Security surprises arising from the Internet of Things (IoT) – Stuart Madnick

MIT Sloan Professor Stuart Madnick

MIT Sloan Professor Stuart Madnick

From Forbes

My brother can’t function in the morning until he has a cup of coffee. So I use his daily routine as an example.

Picture my brother stumbling down to the kitchen one morning only to find his internet-enabled coffee maker won’t work. There’s a message on his iPhone: “We have taken control of your coffee pot and unless you pay $5, you won’t have your coffee.” This actually hasn’t happened. At least, not yet.

I have been talking about the security threats to common household items connected to the internet – that is, the Internet of Things (IoT) – for several years now, and unfortunately, every other dire warning has come true so far. Upper management has to take greater notice of risks exposed both in the products they produce and the products that they use and take action to mitigate those risks. Recent events underscore this need.

Two years ago an internet-enabled refrigerator was commandeered and began sending pornographic spam while making ice cubes. Baby monitors have been turned into eavesdropping devices and there are concerns about the security of medical devices, such as computerized insulin pumps. In October, thousands of security cameras were hacked to create a massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) against Dyn, a provider of critical Domain Name System (DNS) services to companies like Twitter, AirBnB, etc. Then there is the recent disclosure of CIA tools for hacking IoT devices, such as Samsung SmartTVs, to turn them into listening devices. These are only a few examples highlighting the threats.

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Can cybersecurity insurance protect consumers from attacks?–Doug Criscitello

Doug Criscitello, Executive Director of MIT’s Center for Finance and Policy

Doug Criscitello, Executive Director of MIT’s Center for Finance and Policy

From The Hill

As we move beyond the widespread acceptance and use of online banking and trading platforms and push further into an increasingly digital financial marketplace, consumers face new forms of risk—namely, cyber risk—that would have been unfathomable previously. When confronted with risks that could be financially devastating, consumers are driven to mitigate and insure against such perils. Has the time come to purchase insurance for financial cyber risks?

Rational consumers seek to prevent, minimize or avoid adverse financial outcomes by purchasing insurance to protect against actual and perceived risks they can’t easily afford. Insurance essentially serves as a risk management and wealth preservation tool. However, consumers realize that it doesn’t make sense to purchase insurance when the cost of coverage is so high that they will pay substantially more in premiums than expected losses. In other words, they decide that self-insuring is the more cost-effective alternative.

Individuals today are increasingly concerned about their online security but don’t have a clear understanding of the amorphous yet perilous risks they face. In response, new consumer-directed insurance products are being offered to guard against cyber attacks.

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The US can’t beat China’s robots but it can win by building the machines that make them – Matt Beane

MIT Sloan Ph.D. Student Matt Beane

From Quartz

As a US presidential candidate, Donald Trump made keeping manufacturing jobs in the country a key economic issue. He promised to bring back jobs from China, Mexico, Japan, and elsewhere; he pledged to force companies from Ford to Apple to Nabisco to open or re-open factories on American shores; and he vowed to revive the coal and steelmaking industries. His promise to create industrial jobs was key to his electoral victory.

Still, many were—and remain—deeply skeptical of Trump’s plans. Mark Cuban, internet entrepreneur and frequent thorn in the side of the president, says that bringing back manufacturing will backfire and lead to overall job losses. Instead, he says, the US ought to invest in robotics to compete with China. “We have to win the robotics race,” he says. “We are not even close right now.” (For what it’s worth, Trump’s labor secretary Steven Mnuchin recently disagreed, saying robots aren’t even “on my radar screen.”)

Cuban is on the right track, but the fact is that it’s too late to go head-to-head with China on building robots alone. We can’t compete with China’s robot revolution. But we can complement it.

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How to improve productivity? Make sure it’s shared broadly — Simon Johnson

MIT Sloan Professor Simon Johnson

From The Washington Post

We know what productivity growth requires: investments in new technology. For previous generations, this was factories full of machines, first powered by steam and then by electricity. More recently it was the arrival of computers, which changed how work was organized within and across firms.

We often perceive the impact of new technology imperfectly and with a lag, and today is no different. We can see a wave of hardware and software innovations underway — technologies such as 3D printing and distributed ledgers will allow manufacturing and finance to become more dispersed — but it is hard to know exactly where it will take us.

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Four Factors for Realizing Full IoT Value — Stephanie L. Woerner

Stephanie L. Woerner, Research Scientist at the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research

From MIT SMR Custom Studio

Realizing value through the Internet of Things (IoT) may begin with simple goals, but it can also catapult a business toward new horizons. The level of commitment to completing the journey really depends on the presence of four factors:

  1. Translating Threats Into Opportunity.

A major driver in IoT initiatives is finding a new source of revenue in the face of changing industry trends. In CISR’s survey of 352 CIOs, respondents with the highest levels of IoT commitment generated 50% of their revenues from products introduced in the past three years. These CIOs see firsthand how quickly disruptive change can occur.

Consider Schindler Holdings AG, which manufactures, installs, and maintains escalators, elevators, and moving walkways. In this increasingly price-sensitive industry, maintenance accounts for 75% of operating profits. This prompted Schindler to use IoT to not only improve equipment maintenance through the data generated by its elevators but also to reposition itself as a service provider that helps customers with building management using this data. To move in this direction, it developed a Web-based customer portal and a mobile app to provide real-time insights.

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