As complex as the Internet of Things appears, it really isn't until you get down to the nitty-gritty. There's the "Internet" and there are "things." If you understand either concept independently, you can understand them as a whole.
Imagine all the electronic devices in your house or office, not just the ones with touch screens and mobile apps. Light switches, ceiling fans or even toasters can all be part of the IoT, a collaborative Internet-based connection that lets these products communicate data to – and interpret data from – each other.
"What level of security will IoT demand?"
Further still, the IoT will also allow these machines to check in with their owners and manufacturers, updating them with any available information including if the device needs repair. Eventually, IT projections will have us speeding directly toward this inevitability.
That is, of course, if the tech industry would quit dragging their feet on the issue of IoT standardization.
With all those appliances and contraptions still in your mind, just think about the kind of brain power required to translate toaster data into light switch data or vice versa.
Properly defined standardization would teach all these different machines to speak the same language across the same medium. Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done.
Figuring out this puzzle involves a significant bankroll, extensive scientific research into extended battery life, and most important of all, someone to lead by example. According to an industry press release, IBM and Cisco are part of an initiative to develop a baseline IoT connection over Low Power Wide Area Networks. This avenue would have equal effectiveness as a way for machines to communicate with their owners, manufacturers and other machines over large distances.
This will hopefully put to rest the question of whether an appliance from Company X will communicate with an appliance from Company Y without any complications. Participating in an open network like the one IBM and Cisco are touting will breach this issue of trust between market competitors before programming language enters the picture. It may possibly even dictate it.
But with every new network comes new concerns. What level of security will the IoT demand?
Last year, Wired published a short fiction piece about life in a futuristic smart house plagued with a computer virus. If you think a standard case of spyware or adware on your personal laptop is a pain in the neck, consider dealing with a program capable of manipulating every connected device in your home – from your refrigerator to your thermostat. Pretty soon, things like shower faucets and front doors will operate with some sort of WiFi-enabled component as well.
Would "house hacking" be comical? Yes, but only if it happens to someone else. Would it be invasive? Of course, more so than any other form of hacking to date.
What about dangerous? In more ways than one.
If a home or a business brings on IoT technology for whatever reason, how would IT equipment manufacturers ensure their customers' safety? In theory, a person with an advanced computing degree and a handful of free time could literally infiltrate a smart home by remotely unlocking the front door. This hacker could also turn on a fire alarm sprinkler system and destroy millions of dollars of equipment in an office building.
With bigger questions looming over the future of the IoT, getting bogged down by connection logistics seems rather short-sighted.
IT and tech industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, leaders in information technology equipment financing. Marlin is a nationwide provider of equipment financing solutions supporting equipment suppliers and manufacturers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.