IoT begs the question: Are we really stronger together or divided?

Let’s face it. The idea of the connected “smart” building is appealing. Being able to control the temperature with an app, or to aggregate data from vending machines so inventory orders can be automated, has a certain amount of allure.

Except that when everything is connected, your network is only as strong as its weakest link, and how strong do you think the cybersecurity is on the dishwasher?

Several incidents have made it into headlines that illustrate how vulnerable the Internet of Things (IoT) really is, from the ski hotel that tried to make it so guests could never leave to some teenager who sent ACSII art through 150,000 printers around the world.

As humorous as these stories read, it’s a bit more serious when you realize a vulnerability no one caught in the vending machine is taking down systems company-wide.

More and more manufacturers are leveraging network capabilities in their products, so the trend of network-friendly appliances is likely to only continue growing. For example, German manufacturer Miele has created a heavy-duty industrial disinfector (a glorified dishwasher) for hospitals that recently connected to the Internet when it was only supposed to stay within its local network.

Miele is looking into what happened, but the bottom line is pretty clear cut. Hackers can and will target any vulnerability they can get in their sights, and while it mostly leads to minor inconveniences for users, it’s indicative of a more problematic trend. It’s only a matter of time until you need a firewall for the restroom appliances.