February 24, 2017

The thing about the Internet of Things…

When it comes to the Internet of Things, the talk is almost as big as the numbers. Gartner predicts around 20 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020. Global IoT spending will hit $1.29 trillion over the same period says IDC. Meanwhile, McKinsey forecasts the economic impact could be up to $11.1 trillion by 2025.

Seemingly no end to the ‘smarts’…

The IoT has been used in industry for many years. Its applications range from remote monitoring and predictive analytics, to preventative maintenance, optimised energy consumption and asset utilisation. This has streamlined and automated processes, and improved productivity and profitability within the industry.

The falling cost of RFID tags and rising uptake of smartphones have contributed to newer consumer use cases. Some of the wackier examples from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January included the smart cocktail maker from Pernod Ricard. This tracks home-bar alcohol levels and proposes appropriate cocktails. Smart pyjamas monitor sleep patterns to enable athletes to prepare better for the next day’s training. And wait for it…a smart hairbrush gives users insights into how they brush their hair!

The Internet of Other People’s Things

If you can build it, it can be connected to the internet, or so it seems. But is this really a good idea?

The Internet of Things is fast becoming the Internet of Other People’s Things. 2016 saw several high-profile online attacks, harnessing IoT technology. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks target internet-facing devices, such as CCTV cameras, baby monitors and smart TVs, to overwhelm sites with fake traffic and knock them offline.

Security blogger Brian Krebs found this out to his cost in September 2016 when his website was targeted in one of the biggest DDoS attacks recorded, registering 620 gigabits of data a second at its peak. Attackers also tried to take down the internet in October 2016 by targeting Dyn, an internet domain name system, with an IoT DDoS attack. This crippled CNN, Netflix and Twitter among other sites in North America and Europe.

The Internet of Trust

We are not very good at securing existing endpoints today. More than 3.1 billion data records were breached in 2016, according to risk management company, IT Governance. So, what about new IoT devices with smarts that cannot be turned off, updated or patched? What about devices built to a price, which may not include encryption or security by design?

Security concerns present a considerable barrier to adoption of IoT solutions, even before payment functionality is added. Equally, privacy, data protection, data ownership and other legal issues could prove as significant as any technical issues.

Putting the customer, their security and privacy first will help build and maintain the Internet of Trust, enabling commercial benefits to follow. That’s the thing about the Internet of Things — trust may just be the ‘killer app’.


— ends —