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April 10, 2015

IoT: The legacy

CBR looks into the future of IoT and the security aspects of it.

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Everyone wants to leave some sort of legacy.

The word legacy from the Late Middle English, descends from Latin lex ‘law’, the source also of law. The phrase law and order is found from the late 16th century, explains the Oxford Dictionary.

It was Charles Dickens who first said the law is an ass, or rather his character Mr Bumble did in Oliver Twist: ‘"If the law supposes that," said Mr Bumble…"the law is a ass…a idiot."’

But what does this word mean to the Internet of Things?

First of all, the future of IoT needs to ensemble in a single definition. Currently consumers and enterprises are using expressions like Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial Internet (InI) and Internet of Everything (IoE). Three different ‘Things’ that match the meaning of each others.

The most logical transition will be the standard adoption of Internet of Everything (IoE).

Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the World Wide Web once said: "This is for everyone".

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Following his statement, the IoT seems to be going "back home" by replacing ‘Things’ with ‘Everything’. Which leads to the question: but can we not call it Internet of Everyone as well?

Not really. By everyone we would be only mentioning people, not including the gadgets themselves. So Internet of Everything is the closest it can ever be to Mr Berners-Lee quote.

Having established that, how can the IoT set a pathway for a safe future?

Today is the fifth annual IoT Day. There will be dozens of events being hosted worldwide and the internet will be packed with ‘Things’ and alikes dropping from every continent.

According to Gartner, there are currently 4.9 billion connected devices in use and the information technology guru predicted the number to soar to 25 billion by 2020 incrementing the necessity to better protect equipment from cyber attacks.

2020 seems to be the year when IoT will strike strong; the year everyone in the industry is looking forward to.

Most big investments within this – still relatively new – sector are set to give their first results between 2016 and then.

Although the future seems bright, many considerations are in need of debate.

For example, in November last year, Russian webcam hackers were spying on thousands of users across the world and transmitting their lives live on the web.

Cyber attacks like this could become ever more common as more and more Things get connected.

Richard Moulds, VP Strategy at Thales e-Security, said: "The scale, complexity and geographic spread of IoT networks, coupled with the amount of data that makes them tick, make them highly vulnerable.

"A main reason for these concerns is that the devices themselves are often in vulnerable locations, may have very little physical protection, and the networks through which they communicate can’t always be trusted."

When we published our April Fool’s day piece alerting to an IoT security breach that forced kitchen devices to reject junk food, the joke could actually be real as in the future intelligent artificial memory is introduced.

Devices are becoming smarter and able to understand a) human behaviours; b) how to function by themselves.

Technology security firm Veracode alerted this week that consumers are at risk of cyber attacks or physical intrusion of their homes as IoT enabled devices, associated mobile applications and cloud services do not feature the required security systems.

Brandon Creighton, Security Research Architect at Veracode, said: "It’s hard to not be excited about what the IoT has enabled and will bring in the future, although that doesn’t mean cyber security should be sacrificed in the process.

"We need to look at the IoT holistically to ensure that the devices, as well as their web and mobile applications and back-end cloud services, are built securely from their inception. Security should not be treated as an afterthought or add-on, or we risk putting our personal information in jeopardy or even opening the door to physical harm."

More needs to be done to ensure IoT does not die while walking down the aisle.

And companies like Intel, which has spent $7.7 billion to acquire McAfee to ensure the safety of its chips are probably the turning point to this affair.

More and more people are embracing a technologically connected world, which will foster globalisation to a completely new level perhaps not seen since the begging of the Discoveries age by the Portuguese in the 15th century.

All in all, just like the legacy left by the Discoveries Age, IoT will leave a mark in this world until the end of days.

But first, let’s actually enjoy what IoT has to offer in all its splendour.

Have a great IoT Day everyone!

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