What is Internet of Things (IoT)?

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Introduction

Internet of Things or IoT refers to the millions of smart device that are already connected in the internet. Many smart devices are now able to share data with each other, with the aim of making information more accessible. Because of the rapid advancement and acceptance of the technology, devices as small as a candy bar or as large as an airplane can connect seamlessly to the Internet of Things. Sensors and other systems on a chip (SoC) are now being added to otherwise conventional devices, to enable them to produce real-time data without the need for human intervention. The term Internet of Things are generally generally reserved for not traditionally known for having an internet connection; for this reason, smartphones and computers are not considered part of the IoT framework, though smartwatches do fall under this category.

What are some examples of IoT Devices?

Did you know that almost any device could now be had as an IoT smart device? Previously a simple light bulb would only need to illuminate, but now one is able to purchase a smart light bulb which can be controlled using a smartphone. It is possible to adjust the colour and intensity of the light, automatically turn it on or off or even provide details on how long the light has been on. Another example is the development of driverless cars which make use of real-time data provided by sensors around the vehicle, which allow it to analyse its surroundings while on the road.

There has been recent development for the Raspberry Pi which is a microcomputer that remote desktop software could be used with in conjunction with the Microsoft IoT operating system.

History of Internet of Things

While the Internet of Things has only been a recent development, the concept was formed by Kevin Ashton in 1999. Advancement in internet technology over the years has realised the vision of the concept. Kevin Ashton gave a presentation for Procter & Gamble in which he described IoT as a technology that connected several devices with the help of RFID tags.

Benefits of IoT for Business:

Internet of Things would not be feasible if it did not provide tangable benefits to businesses. One example of the benefits of IoT for business is open-access to data within the business; this means access to real-time data and real-time updates for owners and employees.

Is the Internet of Things secure?

Security is of the utmost importance to technology nowadays, which is also one of the main challenges facing IoT. Smart sensors can collect data of what we say or monitor our behavior (Google Alexa, Apple Siri, etc). While keeping it secure is an important factor to most consumers, many IoT devices tend to be unsecured. Many IoT devices found in the market are claimed to not have data encryption in place for the input information to the device, which places consumers at risk.

As you may have noticed, most applications on our computers and smartphones frequently updates their app and most of the time the reason behind it is security patches. This is a features that IoT devices lack, the capability to be patched by updates, which means they are permanently at risk. Hackers are now actively targeting IoT devices such as webcams or IPCams as they are at risk of having an obsolete security patches and it is easily accessible.

Not only are consumers affected, but various governments are growing worried about the risks. While the cost of making smart devices becomes negligible, these problems will inevitably become more widespread in the future.

Security risks of IoT applies to business as well, though the risks are even higher. If your business focuses on industrial sphere, connecting industrial machinery to IoT networks increases the potential risk of hackers discovering and attacking these devices. That means businesses will need to ensure that their own network are isolated and protected, having a data encryption with security of any other components that is a necessity. The current state of IoT technology makes that harder to ensure, however, as does a lack of consistent IoT security planning across organisations.

Do you have privacy with Internet of Things?

Considering that almost all IoT devices have sensors which collect data on everything you do, this poses a serious question on personal privacy. For example, if you have a ‘smart home’: Once you wake up, your devices can tell that you are already awake (when the smart clock is activated), how you brush your teeth (thanks to your smart toothbrush), what music or artists you listen to (thanks to your smart speaker), inventory of food stocks and foods you like (thanks to your smart fridge), and who visits you and passes by your house (thanks to your smart doorbell).

All data that is being transferred to your IoT devices is important, though not all smart home companies gets an income on selling your data such as ads on the your browser searches or some videos related on what you usually watch, but some do.

Having all of the data from your IoT devices configured together can create a surprisingly detailed picture of your habits. It would be easy to create a profile based on your likes and dislikes, your favorite restaurants, your favorite foods to order and other aspect that was recorded by the sensors.

IoT for Privacy and Businesses

As the above example of smart homes illustrated, it is feasible for the entire house is listening and recording any searches, commands, behaviour and conversations you have while at home. Business owners need to understand the ramifications of confidential information possibly being leaked in a meeting room equipped with smart speakers and cameras that could potentially record all conversation.

Having a single badly installed IoT product could easily make the whole corporate network vulnerable to attack by hackers, or simply leak confidential data. It might seem like a trivial threat, but in the event of having an IoT device that has a vulnerability, it could be exploited by hackers without the consumer or company being aware.

IoT Benefits and the cloud

With the advancement of the internet, data processing has become more and more important. Most organizations can benefit from subscribing to a cloud service instead of buying or operating their own data server, which would require a significant financial obligation. Companies such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web services and others offer these kinds of services.

How IoT and 5G connect and share data

IoT devices use a variety of methods to connect and share data, although most will use some form of wireless connectivity: homes and offices will use standard Wi-Fi or Bluetooth; other devices will use LTE or even satellite connections for communication. However, the vast number of different options has already led some to argue that IoT communications standards need to be as accepted and interoperable as Wi-Fi is today. 

One area of technological advancement in the next few years will undoubtedly be the use of 5G networks to support IoT projects. 5G offers the ability to integrate as many as one million 5G devices making large-scale industrial IoT deployments more possible.

One likely trend is that, as the IoT develops, it could be that less data will be sent for processing in the cloud. To keep costs down, more processing could be done on-device with only the most useful data sent back to the cloud – a strategy known as ‘edge computing’. This will require new technology – like tamper-proof edge servers that can collect and analyse data far from the cloud or corporate data center.

IoT and the Future

As the price of IoT devices continues to drop, adding an IoT device becomes more cost-effective even if the benefits are not noticeable. IoT is still evolving as time goes by. 5G networks are still under development but some huge organization is now deploying it slowly. Many huge companies are on the race to deliver an IoT device that is beneficial, secured, and has a user-privacy.

As the number of connected devices increases, many families are already adapting to the change while some families continue to stick with the non-technology home. There would come a time when a chair would have even more functionality than the main purpose of the chair itself.

4 Replies to “What is Internet of Things (IoT)?”

  1. I didn’t notice that most of my “smart” device still have some security risks. I just need to make sure that my Internet connection is secured.
    Good read for this.

  2. Nice little article on IoT. As new technologies grow we need to have security in place. This article shows how to have an environment for IoT and it uses. Good Article.

  3. It is fascinating to learn about how the smart devices interact with each other, and to imagine how the technology can be developed in the future. Good article!

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