In 2020: My Toothbrush Will Be Hacked

In 2020, my toothbrush will be hacked. I’m sure it will happen. I will only discover it when I go to the dentist for my regular check-up and find out that I have a new cavity and [GASP], I’m still not flossing correctly. Most hacking breaches are not discovered for months after they happen.

You see, two years ago I was at MWC Barcelona and amidst all the virtual reality games and smart automobiles, I saw on display… a connected toothbrush. Why? I asked the vendor as it seemed to me a rather wasteful use of technology for a simple task. Well, it seems that the toothbrush connects to an app on your phone and gives you details on how well you are brushing – how long, are you covering all the right areas, etc. What a novel idea. As I am not a gadget geek, I didn’t buy one. After all, I haven’t had cavities in years.

But now, I need a new toothbrush and not wanting to be out of touch with the latest trends, I’ve been considering converting from my old-fashioned manual approach to a battery-powered one. I remembered that connected toothbrush from two years ago and searched online. Low and behold with the holidays approaches there are now several connected toothbrushes available. So, guess what I’m going to buy for myself?

Yet, here’s where the lure of the possibility of 5G technology intersects with consumer need and the growing community of cybercriminals. Connected IoT devices of all types are expected to surge in the next five years. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, by 2025 there will be almost 25B connected devices, compared to about 7.4B smartphones. That’s more than a 2X increase from today’s connected IoT estimates of 11 billion. This includes all kinds of consumer, industrial and commercial devices such as connected cars, personal devices (e.g. toothbrushes), transportation sensors and critical IoT for public safety. At the same time, we are seeing more and more evidence of how seemingly harmless consumer devices can be hacked and used for malicious purposes. The FBI for example recently warned about the dangers of smart TVs that can be vulnerable to intrusion and a Mississippi mother claims her IoT camera was hacked.

Another way to think about this is that in 2020, globally about 394 NEW IoT devices will be connected every second. I figure some of them have to be toothbrushes. Somewhere there is an industrious hacker who wants revenge on his parents for making him brush his teeth every night. And so, the toothbrush hack will be created.
Will I get a new cavity in 2020 as a result?

Brush away.


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December 17, 2019

About Terry Young

Terry Young is Director of 5G Marketing at A10 Networks. She is responsible for developing programs and marketing material that describe business value of A10 solutions for mobile network operators and other service providers. Prior to A10 Networks, Terry has 20 years experience in the telecommunications industry, including AT&T (mobile and fixed businesses), where she developed market strategy recommendations for new business initiatives for AT&T. As a principal analyst for a syndicated market research company early in the 3G technology introduction, her 3G/4G market analysis and forecasts were published by the UMTS Forum. She also previously held positions with several start-up mobile infrastructure and software vendors, including Infoblox and Palo Alto Networks. Terry has an MBA from Arizona State University and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. READ MORE