IoT Implementation

It seems to me….

As the Internet of Things advances, the very notion of a clear dividing line between reality and virtual reality becomes blurred, sometimes in creative ways.” ~ Geoff Mulgan[1].

Today, in 2017, 49 percent of the world’s population is connected online and an estimated 8.4 billion connected “things” are in use worldwide. There are now more things connected to the Internet than there are people on Earth and the number of IP-enabled (Internet Protocol) devices is predicted to reach 212 billion installed devices by 2020. This expanding collection of connected things goes mostly unnoticed by the public – sensors, actuators, and other items completing tasks behind the scenes in day-to-day operations of businesses and government, most of them abetted by machine-to-machine artificial-intelligence-enhanced communications.

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) will enable increasing amounts of data to be used for all types of purposes, many currently unimaginable. Despite wide concern about cyberattacks, outages, and privacy violations, most experts believe the Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to expand over the next few years, linking machines to machines and people to valuable resources, services, and opportunities[2]. Everything that can be connected to the Web will be. While cyber threats might reduce some personal applications, economic interests will mandate corporate exploitation of its associated benefits regardless of possible threats.

Security concerns about the developing IoT technology are becoming extremely imperative as its availability could become the primary security threat to information processing. The IoT consists of common IP-enabled devices that can communicate over the Internet and transmit what could be very important and confidential data. These devices will form networks, communicate with other devices, and share data.

The primary concern is privacy regulation of the data collected by devices and how it is used and shared which requires the cooperation of enterprises, governments, and standards organizations before the full potential of IoT can be exploited. The enormous number of devices; coupled with the sheer volume, velocity, and structure of IoT data; creates challenges particularly in the areas of security, data, storage management, servers, and the datacenter network.

There are two classes of data in the industrial Internet: internal and external. Internal data covers what the vendor needs to deliver the product or service to the customer. External data is what’s useful to customers and the broader market. With internal data, data from a supposedly personal control system belongs to the seller even if it is generated at the customer’s site. It’s not something that would typically be revealed to a customer. The seller wants to keep that internal product data from being surveilled, even by the customer. If it is external data that’s being produced by a robot or smart transformer, then customers are free to use that data however they please and since it’s their data, they are free to share it with whomever they like.

End users normally do not accept they do not actually have ownership rights to data gathered by off-the-shelf systems they have installed. For example, that all the details about when a smart home set-up they installed switched on their lights or opened their garage might belong to the provider and not the owner. With the IoT still relatively early in its adoption curve, companies are attempting to reach mutually acceptable agreements for handling customer data. There is considerable potential for IoT systems to reveal personal information about individuals and businesses resulting from systems IoT deployments being set up incorrectly.

Consumers currently have no reasonable way to judge whether the devices they buy are designed and concur with common security practices, whether and how they are being tested, or how security-related bugs are addressed and for how long after purchase. Nor do they generally know what kind of data the vendor stores where, shares with whom and for how long, and whether those systems are regularly tested by independent third parties. For higher-risk devices that can either do physical harm (cars), can cause significant loss of privacy (in-home cameras), or endanger physical safety (door locks), some kind of certification that does not just consist of ten pages of disclaimers is absolutely necessary. There will be poorly designed products and applications that might initially achieve marketing success but will quickly be rejected by consumers when deficiencies become better known.

Data that customers elect to share with their providers should only be shared in an aggregated or anonymized form. Providers should guarantee not to use data fusion to reverse engineer information about their customers without their explicit consent. For example, if the customer has several systems all made by a single supplier, the supplier could offer to merge those systems to give better insight into how the combination of those systems is working. Most people are willing to exchange the currency of personal data and privacy to get the most value from the products possible. If customers are willing to share personal data, they may be offered additional services such as data on industrial equipment usage that could optimize or service the equipment. The value of that exchange where both parties are getting something has to be clear however.

Anything that is connected is susceptible to attack or misuse; the very connectedness of the IoT leaves it open to security and safety vulnerabilities. All of this has prompted concern among Internet security experts. As billions of additional everyday objects are connected in the IoT, they are sending and receiving data that enhances local, national, and global systems as well as individuals’ lives but such connectedness also creates exploitable vulnerabilities.

The primary application for IoT is in the commercial environment, not in consumer products though consumer products will increasingly be dependent upon connectivity. Those corporate-specific applications will remain vulnerable to security attacks longer than those available to consumers. It will be necessary for commercially available products to adhere to standards. Rather than individually developing applications, corporations will utilize open-source modules from locations such as GitHub[3].

Risk, however, is part of life and the benefits of being connected outweigh the risks. The IoT will be accepted, despite risks as most people believe the worst-case scenario will never happen to them. Defects and vulnerabilities are a natural part of quickly evolving networks and software, hardware, and security responses are always a step behind. Not only will the trend toward greater connectivity of people and objects continue, it will continue to change boundaries and dynamics whether personal, social, moral, political.… Given time, human ingenuity and risk-mitigation strategies will make the IoT more safe. Though the dangers are real, security and civil liberties issues are magnified by its current rapid adoption.

If anything forces people off new technology, it will be the security measures, not the potential criminality. All devices will become connected by default and require specific effort to disconnect. Even in the case of a major attack, it will not alter the rate of long term connectivity increase. Any impact will only be temporary as online security is basically only an illusion.

There are overwhelming economic incentives for commercial enterprises to develop connectedness: efficiency, information…. Those failing to fully exploit the IoT will be at a significant competitive disadvantage.

Society reaps benefits from connected infrastructure and objects from transportation, communications, business, and industrial systems to individual products and services. People will remain largely unaware of the degree of connectedness present in the products they select and will merely pick products and services based on personal preferences for comfort, convenience, monetary value, etc. They will value today’s convenience over possible future negative outcomes. From primitive Man to the present, we have almost always favored and pursued increased connectivity. This time will most likely not be any different.

That’s what I think, what about you?

[1] Geoff Mulligan is an American computer scientist who developed embedded Internet technology. He is a consultant on the Internet of Things and in 2013 was appointed a Presidential Innovation Fellow.

[2] Rainie, Lee, Janna Anderson. The Internet of Things Connectivity Binge: What Are the Implications?, Pew Research Center,, 6 June 2017.

[3] GitHub is a Web-based version control repository hosting service for tracking changes in computer files and coordinating work on those files among multiple people.

About lewbornmann

Lewis J. Bornmann has his doctorate in Computer Science. He became a volunteer for the American Red Cross following his retirement from teaching Computer Science, Mathematics, and Information Systems, at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO. He previously was on the staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, Stanford University, and several other universities. Dr. Bornmann has provided emergency assistance in areas devastated by hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. He has responded to emergencies on local Disaster Action Teams (DAT), assisted with Services to Armed Forces (SAF), and taught Disaster Services classes and Health & Safety classes. He and his wife, Barb, are certified operators of the American Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV), a self-contained unit capable of providing satellite-based communications and technology-related assistance at disaster sites. He served on the governing board of a large international professional organization (ACM), was chair of a committee overseeing several hundred worldwide volunteer chapters, helped organize large international conferences, served on numerous technical committees, and presented technical papers at numerous symposiums and conferences. He has numerous Who’s Who citations for his technical and professional contributions and many years of management experience with major corporations including General Electric, Boeing, and as an independent contractor. He was a principal contributor on numerous large technology-related development projects, including having written the Systems Concepts for NASA’s largest supercomputing system at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. With over 40 years of experience in scientific and commercial computer systems management and development, he worked on a wide variety of computer-related systems from small single embedded microprocessor based applications to some of the largest distributed heterogeneous supercomputing systems ever planned.
This entry was posted in AI, AI, Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence, Communications, data, Data, Information, Intelligence, Internet, Internet of Things, Internet of Things, IoT, IoT, IP, Privacy, Protocol, Risks, Security, Server, Server, Storage, Threats and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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