The potential lifestyle and business benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) are huge. How great would it be in this future IoT world where information flows freely around us, that a business could pull data on any process, any time, anywhere in real time?
For example it would let companies in the manufacturing industry spot flaws in their process chain and improve productivity, or people in healthcare pull real-time information on their patients that could speed up their diagnosis time and potentially save their lives.
However, despite the potential benefits, there are a few darker elements to the world of IoT.
Security is one of the biggest roadblocks hampering IoT adoption. Hackers are already developing increasingly sophisticated ways to steal our data.
With IoT this issue will explode as each new device connected to the internet that holds a sensor collecting data will provide a fresh attack vector for these hostile parties. As Intel president Renée James pointed out: "[With IoT] we're no longer living in a world where you can say, 'Yeah if you want security then turn it on. If you want a firewall go ahead and turn it on.' It's just not OK, to work like that anymore."
The privacy problem
The technical threat surrounding IoT has been compounded by recent revelations regarding the US National Security Agency's mass-surveillance PRISM campaign.
News of the PRISM campaign broke in 2013 when whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked documents to the press proving that the NSA was siphoning vast amounts of information from a variety of technology vendors.
As noted by technical director at NG Bailey IT Services Indi Singh Sall, these concerns have already led to resistance to IoT. "We have received a couple of opportunities to bring new, IoT technology to the manufacturing industry, but fear of embedding that technology frightens people. At the moment, its a complete no no," he observed.
So does all this spell doom for the interconnected world many businesses are dreaming of? Luckily not.
As Raj Samani, CTO of McAfee, explained to V3, the foundation IoT simply requires a rethink of the way we approach and build technology. "Manufacturers and developers must keep security in mind throughout the entire production process," he said.
While some may argue expecting OEMs across the globe to alter their design philosophies and manufacturing processes to place security at the forefront is wishful thinking, McAfee's parent company Intel has already laid out a clear IoT security strategy.
The comprehensive IoT strategy includes several key steps, starting with the creation of a secure and holistic solution for information-rich environments across multiple environments and devices that can assure firms their devices are operating as intended and have not been corrupted.
While the strategy is still in its early stages, the fact Intel and McAfee have already made some successful inroads with manufacturers is a sign there is at least a chance we can enjoy the benefits of IoT without compromising security.
For a more in-depth look at Intel and McAfee's IoT security strategy, visit the Intel IT Center.
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