The Internet of Things will bring many benefits, but it's also creating a security nightmare for which few are prepared.

The horror stories have already started.

The baby monitors transmitting a live feed onto the internet for all to see -- and the smart teddy bear that could be hijacked. The car that allows hackers to take control of systems remotely. The power grid knocked offline by attackers accessing industrial control systems.

The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) will bring with it huge benefits to businesses and consumers, but right now it is also creating a security nightmare.

"There isn't any category of devices that has not been hacked to some degree: we're talking anything from lightbulbs to nuclear power stations. As soon as you connect something to the internet then it's hackable and it's a target," says Duncan Brown, research director at analyst firm IDC.

As sensors and connectivity have become cheaper, it has become more viable to add them to a far wider range of devices than ever before. So the 'things' in the IoT can range from consumer goods like baby monitors, thermostats and cars through to industrial systems.

There are plenty of good reasons to connect such devices to the internet: a connected thermostat allows you to warm up the house before you get home, while a factory could reduce downtime if sensors warn that a critical machine is about to overheat.

The number of things being attached to the internet is vast: one estimate is that there will be 6.4 billion connected things in use worldwide in 2016, with more than five million new devices being added every day. That number could reach 20 billion (or 40, or 50 billion, depending on who you are talking to) by 2020.

But connecting them also introduces new risks. For consumers there is a risk to privacy as these devices will record vast amounts of data about their daily lives that could be pieced together to create a deeply intimate portrait of their existence. For businesses, each of these new devices is a potential gateway into their network for hackers to exploit, and potentially allow them access to not just data but also the controls to physical systems where they could do real damage...

Read more: Internet of Things: Finding a way out of the security nightmare | ZDNet