Smart speakers in every home? How IoT is taking over

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by Stephanie Chan

New findings shine a light on how devices are becoming necessity for homes.

A new report from Adobe says almost half of all consumer homes in the United States will own a smart speaker by the end of 2018. This whopping finding is a part of the company’s “State of Voice Assistants” report, which also provides stats like what consumers are using their speakers for (70 percent ask for music, and 64 percent ask about the weather). While one-third of those surveyed said they already owned a speaker like Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa, or Apple’s HomePod, another 16 percent said they would buy one by the end of the year. The report finds that 23 percent of smart speaker owners would buy a speaker as a gift this holiday season.

The rise of the voice assistant is steadily increasing as more consumers are looking to talk to their devices out of convenience. Cisco’s meeting assistant for the enterprise, Webex Assistant, is a tool that uses voice to control your work meetings. A participant can start, end, mute meetings, and even look up employees in a directory to call. Like smart speakers, Webex Assistant is harnessing the use of voice to make meetings more intuitive.

With more speakers in homes, this means more devices and more connections that need to be secure. Security in the Internet of Things (IoT) realm is crucial because there are so many devices out there, and adversaries can exploit those weaknesses to get access to different systems or infrastructure. IoT botnets can be a group of hacked computers, smart appliances, or IoT devices.

In 2016, the Mirai botnet was able to take down large areas of the Internet in the United States and Europe. The botnet was able to accomplish this by launching distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and infecting IoT devices like baby monitors. While botnets still pose a big threat today, the Cisco 2018 Annual Cybersecurity Report states only 13 percent of organizations believe botnets will be a major threat to them this year.

So how can everyone from big organizations to homeowners keep their IoT devices safe? Cisco’s security report writes, “Devices that don’t have permissions set up correctly, or are left open and unmanaged, are vulnerable to attackers.” This blog by Cisco’s Chief Security Architect Gavin Reid shares that homes should limit the number of smart devices, and to make sure that whatever smart appliances you do have meet a minimum level of security.

To learn more about IoT and the devices connected to it, check here.