From time to time, I get asked “hey Al, where is the market going, what should I transition into, what is changing in the world of information security?” Over the years, this thing we call infosec has changed so rapidly, my answer would be different depending upon what day you called me. However, recently I have seen a definite trend in the types of positions we have been working on and the skill sets that are in demand. There has been a disruption in the force, and it will change how you and the companies you work for collect and use data. It will improve lives, perhaps save some, and make the world around us safer (we hope) but definitely smarter. By now you probably know I am talking about IoT or the Internet of Things. Think NEST thermostat if you are not sure what that means. Devices that are connected to a network sharing data, and information with you, other devices, or if you are a pessimist/realist, bad guys.
Being that I am both a realist and an optimist, I am pretty excited about the potential of this new technology. Other than owning the NEST, my first exposure to this was while walking through the isle at Walmart and noticing a wifi connected croc-pot on display over Christmas. At first I laughed (thinking about a hacker taking control of my cooking device and ruining my chicken tortilla soup struck me as funny at the time) but then I started to think…. how awesome is that! I can turn down my soup 1 hour before leaving home for work, who would have thunk of that! Then the little devil that sits on my shoulder reminded me that a bad guy could (in theory) take over my cooking device and potentially start a fire and burn down my house (not good!)
Obviously, I am not the only person on the planet that realizes there is a big potential for security concerns and potential abuse. Look no further than the recent car hacking stories to realize how serious the threat is from people with bad intentions. And honestly, that is just the tip of the iceberg when you consider the data that is being and will be collected and potentially used for nefarious purposes. How about a bad guy hacking an insulin pump, or a pacemaker for example. Stuff that will make Matthew Broderick’s little WarGames stunt look like 1980ies fiction (wait…never mind).
IoT is here to stay, and all of that stuff needs to be collected stored and transmitted in a safe way. The threat landscape is ever expanding and ever increasing. To meet that challenge we will need talented, smart, and creative security professionals to think outside the box and find new solutions to both new and old problems. There is no doubt in my mind IoT is going to offer security professionals incredible opportunities for both career advancement as well as interesting and rewarding work for many years to come. If you haven’t already considered honing your skills in the areas of cloud security, embedded systems, forensics, and threat detection, I suggest you start. Those skills will be in high demand as long as more and more devices become connected, and that spells opportunity for you!
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