Technology firms have warned of an increase in software security breaches, with drones and the internet of things (IoT) expected to be the main targets.

The IoT refers to a network of objects or devices — "things" — that have embedded technology to enable them to interact with each other. For example, most cars are installed with tracking devices that, among other functions, monitor driving patterns. And there are home devices such as TVs and security cameras that are also connected to the internet.

According to technology firm NordVPN, IoT devices will come under increased attack as they become more commonly used, because these smart devices "stick", meaning they are rarely replaced or upgraded.

IoT device makers have often included only minimal features, shortening the development process and cutting costs, NordVPN said.

"This is particularly dangerous for privacy, since lesser security features mean easier backdoor access. When one device is compromised, the hacker can easily overtake the whole system of interconnected devices," it said.

McAfee Labs said its threat predictions for this year showed that IoT devices were attractive to cybercriminals because they were a potential source of data.

"During the next two to four years, we will see more instances of IoT devices used as gateways to data and intellectual property theft, critical infrastructure disruption, and other major attacks," it said.

Many new IoT devices coming to market had weak or no security, it said. IoT devices that were already in use often had similar weaknesses or known vulnerabilities that could not be patched or upgraded.

Harish Chib, vice-president for Sophos in the Middle East and Africa, said users of home IoT devices might not notice that their devices had been attacked.

Many new IoT devices coming to market had weak or no security. IoT devices .. already in use often have similar weaknesses or known vulnerabilities that could not be patched or upgraded

But once attackers had come to "own" a device on a home network, they could compromise other devices, such as laptops containing important personal data.

"We expect to see more of this, as well as more attacks that use cameras and microphones to spy on households. Cybercriminals always find a way to profit," he said.

NordVPN said it expected drones to be targeted by cybercriminals as well. Drones, also referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles, are becoming increasingly popular.

Uses for drones include taking pictures, making video recordings, monitoring crops and delivering packages.

NordVPN said it was possible that a hacker could take control of a drone carrying a package meant for the consumer and then intercept the package.

In addition, many law enforcement agencies were using drones for surveillance. Those drones might be intercepted to disarm the video and audio feeds, said NordVPN.

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