IoT: Pioneering New Technologies


I respect the criticisms of the Internet of Things, particularly when you consider the security concerns and some of the more frivolous IoT applications that seem to draw public attention. Let's face it, if you phone home to preheat the oven for dinner you probably aren't doing so because you need to but because you are satisfying your inner gadget geek.

Credit: Pixabay
Credit: Pixabay

Don't get me started on gizmos like the Amazon Dash buttons and the smart refrigerator that generates your grocery list. (All of those needlessly open up possible security gaps in your home network).

There certainly are IoT opportunities at the residential level when you consider efficiencies in heating, cooling, energy use, and home security, although such systems do raise their own security concerns. So consumers, manufacturers, and low-voltage equipment integrators have to practice due diligence.

The real value from the IoT is still going to be in the business world, whether the applications are in facilities management, manufacturing, retail, transportation, supply chain, or other environments where the IoT can help to deliver operating efficiencies, faster service, and reliability.

There's something else that the IoT brings to a business, early steps into a new world of computing where we are heading anyway. It's a world where mobility, advanced networks, machine learning, cloud computing, and analytics all play together. A report by Forrester Research highlights how those varied technologies serve roles within an IoT initiative.

The IoT is a prime candidate for breaking away from the traditional central IT model. Most enterprises have enough experience with cloud computing today to enable companies to add the compute and storage resources needed for IoT applications in the cloud, rather than provisioning new hardware.

New IoT applications also allow companies to move intelligence -- analytics -- out to the network edge, and to use the mass of IoT data to implement machine learning. Both will require some new skillsets within the technical staff, but both also can help speed and improve decision making.

Then there are mobile technologies. With IoT initiatives we can better utilize those millions of phones that we can't seem to live without. We already are seeing retailers use IoT concepts in beacons to identify customers and their buying patterns as they walk into a store, providing the retailer with a chance to promote specials at the most opportune time. IoT technologies also can tell our phones and us how to avoid delays on our commute. And, they can update customers and shippers about the status of products passing through the supply chain or delivery process.

The irony is that for all the talk about the IoT, some of these capabilities were in place or at least in development before most of started chanting the IoT mantra a couple years ago. Yes, there will be those frivolous applications, and yes there will be some more security breaches. But those are part of the learning process. The IoT will get there, maybe not in the precise form that we envision -- or in some cases curse -- today, but it's real. Remember that every technology does a bit of shape shifting as it moves through maturation.

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James M. Connolly, Editor of All Analytics

Jim Connolly is a versatile and experienced technology journalist who has reported on IT trends for more than two decades. As editor of All Analytics he writes about the move to big data analytics and data-driven decision making. Over the years he has covered enterprise computing, the PC revolution, client/server, the evolution of the Internet, the rise of web-based business, and IT management. He has covered breaking industry news and has led teams focused on product reviews and technology trends. Throughout his tech journalism career, he has concentrated on serving the information needs of IT decision-makers in large organizations and has worked with those managers to help them learn from their peers and share their experiences in implementing leading-edge technologies through publications including Computerworld. Jim also has helped to launch a technology-focused startup, as one of the founding editors at TechTarget, and has served as editor of an established news organization focused on technology startups and the Boston-area venture capital sector at MassHighTech. A former crime reporter for the Boston Herald, he majored in journalism at Northeastern University.

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Re: IoT and security
  • 11/30/2016 2:00:43 AM
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@SaneIT that makes me think psychologists and sociologists would want to surf webcams for research purposes...

Re: IoT and security
  • 11/30/2016 1:53:55 AM
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@Maryam I don't have experience with a Smart TV myself, but the people I know who have them say theirs run Android. Would securing them be any different than securing any other Android device, then? Or are there other OSes that are more widely used?

Re: IoT and security
  • 11/30/2016 1:44:40 AM
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I'd think a good number of open webcams are used as baby monitors. If so, would watching them be the live equivalent of watching cute baby videos on YouTube?

Re: IoT and security
  • 11/24/2016 5:15:19 AM
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..

Jim writes that ...


... baked in security would add to costs in a consumer device market with thin margins. However, as Greg Reber discussed last week in an A2 Academy session, the cost justification for this type of security has to be in the cost of not doing it.

So, the manufacturers might have to raise their prices a bit and compete better on their "security message". Sell on the basis that they are more secure than the cheap competitors.


 

I'd question just how effectively security in this sense could be marketed, especially if the "non-secure" alternatives are priced considerably lower. Ah ... I think I can take my chances with the risk, as long as I can afford this shiny new toy ...

Which brings me back to my earlier contention that it would take governmental mandates to ensure that "baked-in" security. Maybe starting 8 years and 2 months from now? I'm not holding my breath ...

Re: IoT and security
  • 11/23/2016 10:58:50 AM
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I'll have to watch the documentary and form my own opinion. I often confuse Snowden and Assange in my mind, and I think they are two separate cats with two separate motivations, with the one closer to the Joker in the last Batman series.

Re: IoT and security
  • 11/19/2016 4:01:15 PM
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Thanks for asking, Broadway... I was impressed by Snowden as an intelligent, grounded guy. This may have been the POV of the documentary, but there was nothing in the film that depicted him making it all about himself. In fact, he was gambling that other analysts concerned by governmental overreaches would follow suit with their own leaks. That obviously didn't happen.

Snowden didn't come across as a grandstander or sociopath. There may be a pardon request to Obama, and my guess is it won't happen.

Others who saw "Citizen Four" may feel differently... I'd love to hear other reactions.

 

Re: IoT and security
  • 11/19/2016 4:13:31 AM
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@terry, this is a little off topic, but from you saw in the Snowden documentary, what do you think of him. Is he crazy? Can his level of paranoia be trusted?

Re: IoT and security
  • 11/18/2016 1:20:21 PM
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Yes, security is expensive and on the consumer side it's not an easy thing to sell.  The average person has enough trouble setting up a wifi access point that they just let their cable company do it for them.  Some of the early adopters of IoT will manage to install smart light bulbs but won't even think about security because it's not their area of expertise.   I suspect that there will be some niche markets for installers and maintenance of these systems but it will be tiny for the next 5 years at a minimum. 

Internet of Things - Awesome Tech
  • 11/18/2016 7:17:53 AM
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Internet of Things is a awesome technology and will be rulling world in coming days. IoT in short form, being part of all electronics in real world like cars, household things, weather stations, medical areas, satellites etc.

Re: IoT and security
  • 11/17/2016 4:59:03 PM
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@Terry. Right, baked in security would add to costs in a consumer device market with thin margins. However, as Greg Reber discussed last week in an A2 Academy session, the cost justification for this type of security has to be in the cost of not doing it.

So, the manufacturers might have to raise their prices a bit and compete better on their "security message". Sell on the basis that they are more secure than the cheap competitors.

The cost of not doing so brings in several possibilities. If an unsecured webcame, thermostat, smart light bulb, or IP phone gets hacked and a consumer suffers damages (even as simple as embarrassment), the manufacturer is liable. Note, insurance companies can pretty quickly make a manufacturer or other company understand the cost of not meeting the insurer's standards.

An even great cost of not baking in security could come at the corporate-to-corporate level. Take the case of the Dyn DDOS attack. Initial reports say that Dyn was the victim of attacks carried out not only by consumer devices but networked gear in other corporate environments. The result was that Netflix and other Internet companies were taken offline, and even TV stations were largely knocked off the air (when cable companies couldn't pick up the TV feeds).

If all of those Dyn customers sued Dyn, then Dyn could turn on the manufacturers who sold unsecured devices. Even  if Dyn didn't win, as the saying goes, "The case will be in court for years." Then everyone is paying the lawyers.

If you are selling a $100 security camera and the added security steps add $10 to the price, maybe market it by saying that the $90 competitor provides the world with a free look at the kids' bedroom.

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