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IoT and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

At a recent technology conference in Las Vegas, I was overwhelmed by how far technology has advanced in such a short time – and by how much faster the impact of technology on our lives will grow. We are in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Where are we headed? We’re headed for the clouds – the massive server and data storage networks make it possible to do everything imaginable from a phone or tablet from anyplace in the world where you can get an internet connection. This time-compressed evolution is the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Yes, it does seem strange to talk of an evolution, which is long-term movement, with the short burst of a revolution. But that’s just how fast technology moves.

In 1995, we were astounded that we had PCs on every desk. By 2005, we had democratized data in the sense that businesses of all sizes stored and sometimes shared data they gathered and used. That could be correspondence (email), financial records (banks, large retailers), or business info of all sorts, ranging from sales and inventory records to programming heavy industrial equipment. In 2015, society made a really big leap to the cloud to store and manage all the data we use for practically every aspect of our lives. Even people who never use the internet and pay cash for everything are affected by today’s technology if they drive or vote or pay taxes.

Some things I saw in Las Vegas give indications where we’re heading. Business is undergoing a digital transformation built around their customer experiences and new business models. Some one million digital devices come online every day, and by 2025, 60 percent of all computing will be in the cloud. While we each need to maintain our online security vigilance, the entire computing world needs to step its efforts because no bit of information ever goes away. Further, no matter how deeply hidden any information remains, the tools to find it and exploit it are constantly developing. The bad guys can build botnets (networks of electronic robots) to find IP addresses for any exposed device. The Boa open source server, which was used to automate a lot of web-related functions quickly and securely, was discontinued in 2005. But it’s still used in some devices, and with no technical support, bad guys are free to try to pick away at out-of-date defenses. Opening one door can lead to other doors that can be opened, and in some cases, the hackers who open the doors can’t be traced – or can’t be traced quickly enough.

It’s not just the bad guys using stealthy methods to find information. Anyone can use a Google search to find systems and get into them. Those systems can include security cameras and alarms and smart speakers. A Google search can also turn up expired security certificates, which can indicate vulnerabilities.

So, here’s some of what needs to happen:

  • The owners and operators of every server – from a single location to server farms with multiple links – must make sure their firewalls are “locked-down” and secure. That requires the installation of all security updates and patches as they become available and constant monitoring to make sure all ports are secure.
  • All device manufacturers must keep their firmware updated for maximum security. And, if the manufacturers can’t send you updates, you should get and install them on your own.
  • You need to make sure your firewalls and devices are secure through patches and strong passwords. You also should be running virus and malware scans regularly and frequently.
  • Be extremely careful and attentive when you click on a link. You can’t afford to let down your guard.

We also highly recommend an onsite security audit if you have any hint you may have an exposure. We can check all connections for everything on your network – home or office – and trace back anything that looks like a possible security issue, apply a fix and test it. Security issues never resolve themselves and fixing them involves looking at a variety of complexities.

If your computers or devices are running slowly, if you clicked on an email or link you think shouldn’t have, or if you think you’ve been hacked, call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to set up a security audit. None of us wants to give up our technology; we just need to make it as safe as possible.