The Internet of Things (IOT)
The Internet of Things is an emerging topic of technical, social, and economic significance. Consumer products, durable goods, cars and trucks, industrial and utility components, sensors, and other everyday objects are being combined with Internet connectivity and powerful data analytic capabilities that promise to transform the way we work, live, and play. Projections for the impact of IoT on the Internet and economy are impressive, with some anticipating as many as 100 billion connected IoT devices and a global economic impact of more than $11 trillion by 2025.
The concept of combining computers, sensors, and networks to monitor and control devices has existed for decades. The recent confluence of several technology market trends is bringing the Internet of Things closer to widespread reality. These include Ubiquitous Connectivity, Widespread Adoption of IP-based Networking, Advances in Data Analytics, and the Rise of Cloud Computing.
IoT implementations use different technical communications models, each with its own characteristics. Four common communications models described by the Internet Architecture Board include:
- and Back-End Data-Sharing
If the projections and trends towards IoT becomes a reality, it may force a shift in thinking about the implications and issues in a world where the most common interaction with the Internet comes from passive engagement with connected objects rather than active engagement with content. The potential realization of this outcome – “a hyper connected world” is testament to the general-purpose nature of the Internet architecture itself.
While security considerations are not new in the context of information technology, the attributes of many IoT implementations present new and unique security challenges. Addressing these challenges and ensuring security in IoT products and services must be a fundamental priority. Users need to trust that IoT devices and related data services are secure from vulnerabilities, especially as this technology become more pervasive and integrated into our daily lives. Poorly secured IoT devices and services can serve as potential entry points for cyber attack and expose user data to theft by leaving data streams inadequately protected.
The interconnected nature of IoT devices means that every poorly secured device that is connected online potentially affects the security and resilience of the Internet globally. This challenge is amplified by other considerations like the mass-scale deployment of homogenous IoT devices, the ability of some devices to automatically connect to other devices, and the likelihood of fielding these devices in unsecure environments.
As a matter of principle, developers and users of IoT devices and systems have a collective obligation to ensure they do not expose users and the Internet itself to potential harm. Accordingly, a collaborative approach to security will be needed to develop effective and appropriate solutions to IoT security challenges that are well suited to the scale and complexity of the issues.
The full potential of the Internet of Things depends on strategies that respect individual privacy choices across a broad spectrum of expectations. The data streams and user specificity afforded by IoT devices can unlock incredible and unique value to IoT users, but concerns about privacy and potential harms might hold back full adoption of the Internet of Things. This means that privacy rights and respect for user privacy expectations are integral to ensuring user trust and confidence in the Internet, connected devices, and related services.
The Internet of Things is redefining the debate about privacy issues, as many implementations can dramatically change the ways personal data is collected, analyzed, used, and protected.
The Future Internet of Things
It’s not hard to see how and why the IoT is such a hot topic today; it certainly opens the door to a lot of opportunities but also to many challenges.
The new rule for the future is going to be, “Anything that can be connected, will be connected.” But why on earth would you want so many connected devices talking to each other? Do we really need this technology across the board, or can we limit it to certain devices? There are many examples for what this might look like or what the potential value might be. Say for example you are on your way to a meeting; your car could have access to your calendar and already know the best route to take. If the traffic is heavy your car might send a text to the other party notifying them that you will be late. What if your alarm clock wakes up you at 6 a.m. and then notifies your coffee maker to start brewing coffee for you? What if your office equipment knew when it was running low on supplies and automatically re-ordered more? What if the wearable device you used in the workplace could tell you when and where you were most active and productive and shared that information with other devices that you used while working?
Issues and Challenges of a More Connected World:
What we need to think about is with all these of devices being connected together, what can people do to make sure that their information stays secure? Will someone be able to hack into your toaster and thereby get access to your entire network? The IoT also opens up companies all over the world to more security threats. Then we have the issue of privacy and data sharing. This is a hot-button topic even today, so one can only imagine how the conversation and concerns will escalate when we are talking about connecting everyday devices to our already insecure networks. Will the risk be more than the reward at the end of the day? This is for you to decide, but for now.. I think I’ll play it safe for at least a little while longer.