As I’ve previously noted, the most conservative independent analysts of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) predict that global IIoT expenditure will reach $500 billion by 2020. The value created by the IIoT—which includes certain uses of drones—could reach as high as $15 trillion by 2030.  Accenture Strategy predicts that the insurance industry could capture 26 percent of the value from the IoT. However, as more devices, data and actors connect to deliver these solutions, the cyber threat grows.

Connected products and services create new data streams for insurers to calculate risk scores and process claims faster or drive proactive maintenance.

The most common way insurers use drones right now is to speed up property inspections while lowering their risk and boosting their accuracy. These inspections are deployed reactively—in response to a major weather event that damages many properties in an area, a customer request, or according to a maintenance schedule. Sensors in roofs could stream data on their condition to insurers, making a more proactive approach possible.

New outcomes like this one will require new connections, both technical and corporate. As I’ve written elsewhere, the IoT (and the IIoT) will encourage insurers to enter new partnerships with non-insurers to access data as well as monitor and manage risk. It is likely that these connections will create opportunities up and down the value chain for insurers. But they will also create new risks.

Security imperative for drones

Hacking and cybercrime are already important concerns for anyone doing business on the Internet right now. Cybercriminals can bring down major websites—sometimes with the help of IoT-enabled devices. The consequences of IoT and IIoT security breaches are potentially even more severe. Late last year, San Francisco’s public transit system was hacked and held for a ransom of 100 Bitcoin, or roughly $73,000 at the time of the hack. In late 2015, over 200,000 people were left without power in Western Ukraine after a cyberattack disabled 30 electrical substations.

As more physical assets are linked to one another, the incentive for bad actors to compromise security systems grows—as does the consequences of a security breach. The IoT, the IIoT, and drones therefore present a security imperative for insurers.

Drone hacking technology is typically used to access the data it collects or to take over physical control.

What can be done with a hacked drone? An ioti.com article lists the obvious: to create airspace threats, use as a vehicle for weapons, industrial espionage, or to steal sensitive information from WiFi devices. And of course, for drones connected to larger commercial or industrial applications, the question begs: if a hacker can access the drone, it may be just a hop, skip and a jump to accessing the system (and data) that it is connected to.

The industry needs the most robust security systems possible to unlock the full potential of drones and the IIoT. Sourcing or creating such systems would also have spin-off benefits, as insurers could help customers using drones maintain the security of their assets.

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