The “Internet of Things” (IoT) has been all over headlines lately. As our obsession and need for life to be digitized and at-our-fingertips at all times grows, so have the many applications for giving everyday items enhanced capabilities by connecting them to a network. For those of you who have heard of IoT but actually have no idea what it implies, here’s the simple explanation: The IoT is the interworking of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other everyday things with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.
Think about all the advancements we’ve seen in just the past few years: turn your car on from your smartphone, lock your front door from the airport and track where your kid is driving from across the country. These capabilities certainly weren’t around when my parents were growing up –they weren’t even around when I was growing up. Steve Lohr of The New York Times reports that the number of internet-of-things devices in the world has surged nearly 70 percent in the last two years, to 6.4 billion.
But what happens in a world where all of our devices are connected? Major convenience? Yes, of course. Major potential for cybersecurity breaches? Without a doubt.
So while you can check the video cameras in your house from work, potentially so could the neighborhood crook. While you can lock your car doors from your phone, almost as easily a hacker can unlock your car doors from theirs. So, I guess it means a convenient world for everyone – the good and bad guys.
IoT is not something we should fear, rather an advancement we should adopt with caution and while keeping an eye on the bigger picture. Now when selecting a connected device, it might be wise to ask the manufacturer what kinds of security parameters the device is equipped with.
Or more importantly, ask a better question: Whose responsibility is it to protect your connected network from intruders? Internet companies? Device manufactures? Both? This is a growing discussion and will only be resolved as we continue to advance the IoT and connected devices.
In the meantime, I gotta go – my smartphone just told me my dog is overheating.