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Editorial: Cybersecurity in an IoT world

Oct. 26, 2018
On an afternoon in late September, I took my car to the dealership for a routine oil change. When checking in, a maintenance representative tells me the service center’s entire day has been chaotic due to a virus throughout their computer system. It forced the center to shut down the whole system for more than an hour that morning, and given the amount of volume that center regularly receives each day, I can only imagine the scene there as employees had to suddenly manage service and take new orders without computer assistance that almost all nationwide retail-oriented businesses rely on. Thankfully, everything was back to normal by the time I arrived, but it made me think about the role cybersecurity plays in everyday life.

Also in late September, news broke of a major security breach of Facebook that exposed more than 50 million user accounts to hackers, with reports saying user login accounts were being fleeced on the dark web for less than $3 USD. At least 16 separate cybersecurity breaches occurred at U.S. retailers from January 2017 through August 2018. Many of them were caused by flaws in payment systems, either online or in stores.

Evidenced by those events above, you hear about major companies and institutions suffering cybersecurity breaches often today. But sometimes you don’t really realize how widespread it is until you hear about it from the affected party like my car dealership.

A 2018 report published by cyber-security firm Shape Security showed that 80 to 90% of attempted log-ins to a retailer’s e-commerce site are by hackers using stolen data. That is a mindblowing statistic. According to a study by KPMG, 19% of consumers would completely stop shopping at a retailer after a breach, and 33% would take a break from shopping there for an extended period.

And while those stats are for the retail world, I think test & measurement buyers would be just as reluctant to buy from a vendor that experienced a breach, if not more so, considering the equipment and precious cargo at stake that T&M products account for.

With the Internet of Things connecting so much of the industrial world today at an increasing rate, the threat of a security breach will only continue to soar for anyone depending on IoT capabilities. A 2017 report by Market Research Future (MRFR) said that the industrial cybersecurity market is projected to reach approx-imately $24.41 billion USD by 2023 with a 10.97% CAGR during that period.

Statista found that the U.S. Government spent $13.15 billion on cybersecurity in 2017, with that figure expected to be just shy of $15 billion in 2019. Another report released this past October by MRFR valued the current global healthcare IoT security market at $4.8 billion USD, with it expected to reach $15.82 billion in 2021 with a CAGR of 22% in that period.

It’s a shame that so much money, time and resources has to be devoted toward cybersecurity when it could be put toward more productive things, but that’s the world we live in.

Oh, and if you didn’t see Rick Nelson’s editorial in EE’s October print issue, or haven’t seen my recent blogs on our website, you may not know yet that Nelson retired as EE executive editor in August, and I have succeeded him as editor-in-chief as of early September. Nelson will still be involved with EE in a consultancy role going forward and can be reached at [email protected], while I can be contacted at [email protected].

About the Author

Mike Hockett | Former Editor

Mike Hockett was Editor in Chief for EE from September 2018 to Sept. 2019. Previously he served as editor for two manufacturing trade publications: Industrial Distribution, and Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation. He began in sports writing for a trio of newspapers in Wisconsin and Iowa and earned a BA degree in print journalism from UW-Eau Claire.

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