Since the coining of the term in 1999, the internet of things (IoT) has transformed from a mere vision to a palpable reality. This can be attributed to the extensive use of the Internet Protocol (IP), the rise of ubiquitous computing, and the continued advancement of data analytics, among other drivers of development. By 2020, it is estimated that there will be 20.4 billion devices connected to the IoT. Despite its continuing expansion, however, the IoT remains to some degree an obscure concept, something that’s often referred to in abstract terms even as it provides manifest benefits.
The IoT can be described as an extension of the internet and other network connections to different sensors and devices — or “things” — affording even simple objects, such as lightbulbs, locks, and vents, a higher degree of computing and analytical capabilities.
Interoperability is one of the key aspects of the IoT that contribute to its growing popularity. Connected or “smart” devices — as “things” in the IoT are often called — have the ability to gather and share data from their environments with other devices and networks. Through the analysis and processing of the data, devices can perform their functions with little or no need for human interaction.
Given the ever-increasing number of connected devices, the IoT continues its path of evolution, adding different layers to the data that is already being shared and processed, and giving rise to sophisticated algorithms that result in improved levels of automation. And because of the variety of “things” that can be connected to it, the IoT has enabled diverse applications for individual users and entire industries alike.
The Internet of Things has arrived and it’s going to introduce incredible opportunity over the next five years. And while smart things are exactly that, the IoT industry has a long way to go in terms of overall security. Many of today’s IoT devices are rushed to market with little consideration for basic security and privacy protections: “Insecurity by design.”
This puts you and everyone else at risk: from unwittingly being spied on or having your data compromised to being unable to lock your own home. You could even become part of a botnet that attacks the Internet. Your insecure webcam – along with millions of others – could be used to attack the power grid of an entire country.