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Internet of Things

The Issues That Must Be Addressed As IoT Expands

Todd Thibodeaux

President and CEO, The Computing Technology Industry Association

Welcome to the Internet of Things (IoT). What exactly is IoT?

It’s the practice of interconnecting the physical world with cloud computing-based services through the use of electronic devices, software, and sensors.

Put another way, IoT allows things (computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals, and people) to collect and transmit data that is used to generate insights, which are then analyzed and turned into actions that (in theory) help improve an activity, operation, or process.

Consider the car you drive. The car’s engine (a thing) sends pressure and temperature data that is evaluated to determine if the engine is performing as expected (an insight), which is then analyzed and used to proactively schedule maintenance on the engine (an action).

Why IoT?

The implementation of IoT can help businesses and consumers take much of the guesswork out of their decision-making processes. The access to more data from more sources is at the root of the benefits delivered by IoT. With better data collection and analysis, organizations can become more responsive, improve productivity, and increase profits.

While IoT is still the most widely adopted technology in CompTIA’s emerging tech tracking, there are still only formal IoT initiatives taking place at just over a quarter of all companies.

The  complexity of IoT can be a lot to handle, even for companies that are pushing the envelope with technology, but nearly two-thirds of companies say they are incorporating IoT technology into existing business processes. That’s a positive sign.

Contributing to the market

IoT is also making inroads into the consumer market. In fact, you’re likely already an IoT user even if you don’t realize it.

Do you use an Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod, or other virtual assistant to play music, set alarms, get weather updates, or control home appliances?

Does your refrigerator let you know when you’re running low on milk?

Does your home have a smart lock, keyless entry, or doorbell camera?

Do you wear health and fitness devices to measure calories burned, steps walked, evaluate sleep habits, or monitor a health condition?

More users, more vulnerabilities

The growth of IoT-connected devices has raised the level of discussion about privacy and security. More devices connected to a network increases the number of potential vulnerabilities, especially in areas such as critical infrastructure.

The practice of securing technology has become more difficult as new trends have entered the landscape. With cloud computing, companies had to secure resources outside their perimeter. With mobile devices, companies had to ensure data could be secured wherever it traveled.

With IoT, companies face a monumental challenge: applying digital security to processes that have never before been digitized.

Likewise, in a hyper-connected IoT world, the depth and breadth of data privacy concerns will greatly exceed those of today. While many users willingly hand over certain data in return for access to services or capabilities, recent disclosures of how data is being used by collectors may make consumers more cautious.

Issues related to acceptable use, opt in vs. opt out, right to be forgotten, data breach notification, data ownership, customer privacy bills of rights, and cross-border legalities are just some of the issues with which regulators are wrestling.

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