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7/7/2014
12:06 PM
Frank Palermo
Frank Palermo
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Internet of Things Done Wrong Stifles Innovation

Anticipate and embrace the changes the Internet of things will bring or it will do more harm than good.

The concept of the Internet of things (IoT) dates back to the early '80s when the first appliance, a Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University, was connected to the Internet to check its inventory to determine how many drinks were available. But IoT wouldn't become practical until IPv6's huge increase in IP address space allowed us to assign an IP address to every "thing."

The emerging IoT market we see now is all about a new way of connecting people with products and how products will connect with each other. Before long there will be more "things" on the Internet than people, according to Gartner, with over 26 billion connected devices by 2020. Investors are taking note – pouring $1.1B in financing across 153 deals across the IoT ecosystem in 2013, a rise of 11% year-over-year.

While much opportunity and innovation will result from IoT, there's a dark side that should be addressed early on in the adoption cycle. 

The dark side: privacy and security
The increase in the number of smart nodes brought on by IoT, as well as the amount of data the nodes will generate, will only increase concerns around data privacydata sovereignty, and data security. Additional challenges will include understanding how devices will effectively and securely transmit and store these huge amounts of data. New messaging protocols like MQTT (messaging queuing telemetry transport) will become available to transmit the data securely.

[IoT scenarios that appear disposable hold broad business opportunities. Read The Internet Of Small Things Spurs Big Business]

If it's online, it's vulnerable. With IoT, we're entering an age where hackers can not only break into government agencies and corporations and routinely perform identify theft, but also target connected houses and cars. It's one thing when your PC or phone acts up, but what do you do when you can't turn on your lights, open your door, or turn on the heat?

Security for IoT has been a concern since the arrival of RFID technology so addressing security early on in the implementation stage will be key to safe and practical IoT adoption. When the US State Department first distributed US passports with RFID tags, passport data could be read from 30 feet away using equipment available on eBay for $250. This required changes to secure the RIFD tags. But security and data privacy risks associated with IoT will still remain. If everything is connected to the Internet, in theory anyone can see what's going on anytime they want? What if your connected car is detected at the golf course on a day you called in sick to work?

While some may argue that smartphones have already taken us there, at least you can turn your phone off. Contextual data, like location tracking, can fundamentally undermine privacy if not managed correctly. To do that requires a combination of policy and technology.

Really, really big data
If you thought you had big data prior to IoT, you ain't seen nothing yet. The enormous number of devices, coupled with the sheer volume, velocity, and structure of IoT data, will create challenges in storing, processing and analyzing the data. For enterprises to get the bountiful insights into customer activity that IoT promises, all the data needs to be stored and analyzed somewhere.

Companies should consider using one of the database as a service (DBaaS) offerings to facilitate data ingestion and management. The quicker enterprises can start analyzing their data the more business value they can derive.

Technology is great if you know how to use it
Does anyone worry that a world where everything has a sensor connected to the Internet may be a world that's too complex for its own good? If we couldn't figure out how to operate our VCR or wireless router, how can we figure out how to debug error messages when our cars, refrigerators, and sneakers are wired to the Internet? Is it possible we are on the path to create a world where many of the things we have won't work and a majority of the population won't know how to fix them?

The reality is that the pace of innovation will continue to accelerate, bringing both complexities but also offering efficiencies and benefits that previous 

Frank Palermo is the head of the Global Technical Solutions Group for IT consulting and services company Virtusa. The group is responsible for creating an overall go-to-market strategy for clients in technology areas such as business process management (BPM), enterprise ... View Full Bio
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yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
7/30/2014 | 4:18:36 PM
Re: Internet of Things Done Wrong Stifles Innovation
@Laurianne: We do know that there should be standards enforcing for the IOT, and a lot of organisations (including IEEE) are getting their feet into this sector. However there seems to be too many standards everyone is proposing (and this is normal since IOT is new and everybody wants to make profit hence everyone is proposing standards that give their device architecture the leading edge in the market) and therefore we need dedicated standardizations for each subheading under the heading of IOT.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
7/30/2014 | 4:17:54 PM
IOT security challenges
IOT security challenges are really great, but come with ample amounts of rewards. Since IOT is still expanding, there is still a chance for making errors and resolving them without much after-effect. Naked networks are a seriously big problem and that needs to be solved, without which whatever security IOT may have (in cloud space and also as device security) it?ll get broken eventually.
gev
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gev,
User Rank: Moderator
7/10/2014 | 9:07:35 AM
Security updates for IoT?
So far it is proving very hard to get the latest updates on the Android phones in a timely manner. Your connected toaster will be a sitting duck in half a year without patches. And the more devices will become connected in your home, the more you will turn into IT department, spending your time on tracking versions and managing patches. Good luck and have fun.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
7/8/2014 | 11:58:13 AM
Re: Internet of Things Done Wrong Stifles Innovation
I am curious to get Frank's take on who has the financial incentive to create the IoT gadget standards. I agree that we need them, but I don't see who will spearhead it. Look at where we stand with retailers and credit card companies. In a financial standoff about costs of upgrading cards and systems.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
7/8/2014 | 1:08:20 AM
Re: Internet of Things Done Wrong Stifles Innovation

Thanks for this, Frank. IoT is a hot topic these days (I feel like I'm seeing more and more articles on the front page of InformationWeek every day), and it's easy to see why. It has the potential to positively affect our everyday lives... and negatively affect them, as you rightly point out, which gets people passionate and talking about it. It also lights our sc-fi loving nerd hearts on fire with all the crazy possibilities that could happen, which doesn't hurt. Still, there are very real and practical concerns that bear talking about before we get in over our heads, not after.

In my humble opinion, regulations are an inherently iffy topic when it comes to IoT. After all, all 'IoT' really means is 'an internet-connected computer inside a device that's not a computer' (or, devices that don't already normally have computers in them). So that brings up the questions of:

1) How can you regulate that? You can't really tell manufacturers what they are and aren't allowed to ship for IoT any more than anywhere else. It's up to the consumers to buy it or not.

2) Who's to say existing laws/regulations don't already apply to these devices - and, if so, who decides which ones and how they're adhered to?

3) Why would manufacturers do any more work than they have to? Pontificating that 'we shouldn't cut corners' never really caused anybody not to, did it? They're trying to get stuff to market ASAP... and many won't do anything not absolutely required.



ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
7/7/2014 | 3:14:11 PM
Re: All about motive
Tom, I could agree with your statement that "most of what machines have to tell us isn't that valuable." But the exception -- the breakdown, the leak, the absence of breathing -- can be extraordinarily valuable. That's stuff that companies can put a price on, and decide if the cost of collecting the data is worth the pay off. 
Ali Alkhafaji
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Ali Alkhafaji,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/7/2014 | 3:02:42 PM
We always find a way..
The scariest part about innovation isn't just the speed but the acceleration as well. Innovation becomes faster every moment and constant adaptation is no longer an advantage but a requirement. However, even as security, safety and adaptation are far behind innovation, we always find a way to get there. Mind you there will be quite a few hiccups along the way that will call for urgency in getting those three up to speed.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/7/2014 | 2:57:21 PM
Re: All about motive
Sure, in a high-end neighborhood or where you know the home contains valuable, portable and easily sellable items.

However, again, lacking that certainty, you're doing a fair amount of work with no guarantee of a payoff, and adding the possibility of the homeowner having a big dog -- or being a fan of the second amendment and castle doctrine. Just not seeing widespread feasibility. 

 
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
7/7/2014 | 2:55:42 PM
Re: All about motive
One unsettling scenario: Sophisticated hackers teaming up with lower level burglers to hack into houses, swipe valuables, and share the spoils. Makes me very hesitant to ever have a home alarm system that's IoT-connected
DonQ765
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DonQ765,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/7/2014 | 2:42:03 PM
Re: All about motive
Unless the reward is hacking a home owners garage door opener or smart locks...hack the home, steal the property
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