If you aren't quite sure what “Internet of Things” (IoT) means, you're in good company.
A poll conducted for Metova, a manufacturer of components for connected cars and devices, found fewer that 20 percent of consumers had a firm grasp of the meaning while nearly 70 percent owned some type of connected device.
An IoT product is one that has an embedded computing device that allows it to send and receive data using the internet.
Knowing which if your devices connects to the internet is important; if you aren't aware that your thermostat, refrigerator, or garage door is connected to the internet, you're less likely to take security precautions with it. IoT devices are vulnerable to hackers who can take control of the devices and use them for their own purposes.
In 2016, hackers were able to harness tens of millions of unsecured smart devices like thermostats, home security systems and even printers to launch a massive denial-of-service attack against major web sites like Amazon, Netflix, and Twitter. The attack prevented consumers from reaching these sites for several hours.
Dyn, the sites' common DNS provider, said its investigation showed that many of the compromised smart devices had been infected with a malware because of inadequate security protections. Since then, manufacturers have been under increased pressure to regularly update firmware on smart devices.
A 2017 report by Parks Associates showed 41 percent of U.S. homes with wifi planned to purchase a smart appliance or other wifi-connected household device in the next 12 months, meaning there are now probably millions more IoT devices than there were at the time of the 2016 attack.
"Connected devices and real-time monitoring of water, gas and electrical usage have shifted from a novelty to necessity," said Jonathan Sasse, CMO at Metova. "Whether they know it or not, consumers have made the leap to the Internet of Things in and outside of their homes, yet businesses are often unsure of how to approach digital transformation in order to leverage this new realm."