In October, hackers used millions of connected home devices to execute a denial of service attack to take down popular sites from Twitter to Netflix, Reddit, and even Curbed. While the attack was massive in scale, security experts have since pointed out that it was largely benign: No one died.
But with the proliferation of Internet-of-Things devices, experts warn that cyber-attacks will soon have very real and tragic implications. Everything from our cars and buses to boats, and medical equipment stand to be linked online, becoming vulnerable to hacking.
In recent government testimony, experts urged policy-makers to anticipate and prepare for a near future where insecure devices pose a significant risk to human life.
Security scholar Bruce Schneier has advocated for a new cyber-oriented government agency to spearhead new regulations for all connected devices that would make them less susceptible to attacks. “We can’t have different rules if the computer has wheels, or propellers, or makes phone calls, or is in your body,” Schneier said in a Congressional hearing last month.
Cybersecurity expert and University of Michigan professor Kevin Fu has also called for more government oversight of the Internet of Things, arguing for a federally backed independent safety entity akin to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The organization would test device security and evaluate actual cyber-attacks to understand the best ways to prevent them. At the same time, industry groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Consumer Technology Association argue that such rules and restrictions would hurt innovation.