How much attention should be paid to the Internet of Things (IoT)? Some recent events in the last three months provide a compelling answer. Earlier this week, Forbes reported that global software developer SAP announced a list of new partnerships in order to get more involved in IoT. TechCrunch shared news today that Amazon acquired 2lemetry, a startup based in Denver that has created a platform to track and manage IP-enabled machines and other connected devices.
Since IoT refers to devices that can be web-connected (e.g., thermostats, fitness bracelets, garage doors, refrigerators, TVs, industrial machinery and building alarm systems) even Congress has taken notice. In February, USA Today explained how two tech-savvy members of Congress (Reps. Darrell Issa and Suzan DelBene) formed a new Congressional Caucus on IoT to educate their colleagues while a bipartisan group of four senators had the Senate’s first-ever hearing on the topic.
The Federal Trade Commission has calculated that the number of Internet-connected devices currently exceeds 25 billion worldwide. This number is expected to double in the next five years. Samsung CEO BK Yoon shared in January how his company will contribute to this number. At the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show, he promised that all Samsung TVs and products will be web-connected in five years.
While IoT benefits businesses and consumers in terms of convenience and efficiency, it also presents risks to security and threats to privacy. According to a 2014 HP report, Internet of Things Research Study, 70 percent of devices have vulnerabilities that would allow a cyber attacker to access valid user accounts. Furthermore, CIO magazine identified what it believes to be the three biggest IoT privacy/security challenges:
1) Unlawful surveillance/invasion of privacy
- Internet-connected modules installed on various devices (e.g., toys, cars, and home appliances) can be used for unlawful surveillance according to the InfoSec Institute.
2) Threats to enterprise data and network security
- Any device with built-in network connectivity creates a backdoor connection risk that could be exploited for the unauthorized transfer of sensitive information by a cyber attacker according to Lumeta.
3) Lack of a sound, comprehensive way to manage all IoT devices
- The current state of IoT lacks a set of standards for application program interfaces (APIs) which are the building blocks of IoT and critical for managing the variety of web-connected devices according to Brivo Labs.
Given all of this information, IoT should be on your radar and garner more of your attention over time. This includes your attention as a business person and a consumer.
(Photo: Wearable Technology, Flickr)