Millions of Today’s IoT Devices Will Be in Tomorrow’s Trash Heap
Make no mistake; the Internet of Things is, depending on who you ask, already here, or soon to be on its way. More devices than ever before are connecting to the Internet, which has many security professionals up in arms to protect their networks. Yet, even if the Internet of Things is here, how long can we realistically expect most of these devices to stick around for?
According to ZDNet, the IoT is likely going to become a huge technological disaster, which will lead to more technology filling up landfills than ever before. His reasoning: “most Internet of Things devices won’t be updated promptly enough to continue being useful for longer than 10 years, maximum. Furthermore, Internet of Things devices are at the mercy of whatever cloud services are used to control them; for example, NetGear’s VueZone home security cameras, even though there’s technically nothing wrong with the hardware or the cloud service behind it, will no longer work – simply because the cloud service is no longer cost-effective for NetGear to continue offering it. Granted, NetGear is replacing the service with a different, perhaps more functional, one, but the fact remains that the company has existing customers that are being ignored after making a significant investment in VueZone.”
VueZone isn’t the first IoT technology to be forsaken. Other companies, such as Aether and Revolv, have left their customers up the creek without a paddle by shutting down their cloud services for devices. In some cases, this stops the IoT device from working altogether. This is particularly frustrating for individuals who have invested in IoT technology, as it threatens to make their investment both fruitless and wasteful. The reason is that proprietary vendor-locked cloud services, which may be used to operate devices through an online back-end, may no longer be available.
As noted by ZDNet, this trend isn’t limited to IoT devices. Some devices, particularly older Apple products, will be unable to update to iOS 10, which will limit their usefulness in the long run and remove previously-enjoyed functionality. About 40 percent of all iPads will be unable to upgrade to iOS 10, which is a significant chunk of users getting the short end of the stick. As consumers realize what’s happening, will they be happy to hear that their decision to trust in the manufacturer was a poor one?
And that’s not even mentioning security.
If a manufacturer stops providing updates to IoT devices that are commonly used, what will happen to the users who are now using unsupported and unsecured devices? Hackers will use this opportunity to create threats that specifically target these IoT devices, and will use them to steal data and infiltrate networks that were once safe, but now aren’t.
It seems that one of the largest concerns over this end-of-life for some Internet of Things devices comes not just from the fact that consumers will lose faith in it, but the fact that so many useless devices will inevitably find their way into the environment as e-waste. Many electronics and computing components are made using metals that are toxic to the environment and dangerous when disposed of improperly, which can have deadly consequences. Plus, if a device contains data, but is suddenly unavailable and incapable of functioning, the user might immediately (and irrationally) throw the device out through sheer frustration, putting any data stored on the device at risk.
Basically, it comes down to security, accessibility, and functionality. Most IoT technology today will probably fall to the ravages of time, simply due to the fact that manufacturers have little interest in designing them for security, while retaining their functionality.
What do you think about the Internet of Things? Would you be willing to sacrifice security and risk future functionality just to have the latest and greatest gadgets? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to our blog.