'Demand for data will make total connectivity inevitable'

"All devices will go online regardless of their utility because of the data they can generate": cyber-security guru Mikko Hyppönen

"The Internet revolution has already happened," says cyber-security expert and F-Secure chief research officer Mikko Hyppönen.

"What is happening now is the next revolution, which is the IoT revolution. The internet revolution took computers online. The IoT revolution is taking everything else online," he told SC Media UK at the F-Secure headquarters in Helsinki, Finland.

Hyppönen says that smart devices going online is only a fraction of the whole equation. Eventually anything that uses electricity will go online. And the Hyppönen law states that anything connectable is hackable.

"But as connectivity becomes cheaper, it’s not just the smart devices that go online but also the stupid ones. I am actually much more worried about stupid things going online than smart things," he said.

Hyppönen defines stupid things as the ones that consumers don’t don’t really need to be online, such as toasters. They will nevertheless be online because of the data that they generate. And data is money.

Indian billionaire and Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani has been lobbying for restrictions on cross-border user data movements for some time. He owns telecommunications services company Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, whose customer base has burgeoned to 339.74 million since its launch in September 2016. 

Tech titans Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft have blazed the trail of data harvesting and monetising. Naturally, Reliance prefers to hoard the data generated by its users in India.

IoT devices going online opens new levels of highly personalised user data. Cisco's annual Visual Networking Index predicts that machine-to-machine (M2M) connections that support IoT applications will account for more than half of the world's 28.5 billion connected devices by 2022.

"There are plenty of companies out there who would like to make money out of data, just like there are companies who want to build their machine learning capabilities. How do you teach machines? Well, you teach them with data," he said.

For that, the businesses have to collect data somehow. If one is in the business of selling toasters, it becomes perfectly natural to take their toasters online. 

"Then you know where your customers are, how  many customers you have, which countries your customers are in, which part of what city do they live, when do they toast, what do they toast, how often does the toasters get fired. This is valuable data."

The only way to collect it is to put everything online, and this is going to happen, whether we like it or not, he added. And if everything is online, everything is hackable.

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