The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is a term used to refer to the interconnection of multiple interacting smart devices, systems, machines and people to better report, evaluate and adjust settings, expectations and behavior (think along the lines of Nest, HomeKit, Apple Watch and Smart Grid). It’s not merely about “things,” though they lay the infrastructure (of course). It’s about improved and integrated service, convenience, convergences and efficiencies.
IoT is already here. According to technology research company Gartner, 4.9 billion connected “things” will be in use in 2015 which makes it up 30 percent from 2014. By 2020, a projected 25 billion devices will be part of the Internet of Things.
CNN Money reports a Zebra Technologies study that nearly all retailers are preparing for IoT; 67 percent of respondents say they have already implemented IoT and 26 percent are preparing to implement sometime this year. The day is not far off when your business must consider IoT strategies to remain competitive and satisfy consumer needs.
The big question is security. Some argue that the vast quantities of personal and other sensitive data make IoT ripe for exploitation. The FTC recently issued a report that IoT presents serious data security and risks that require taking proper precautions to protect the privacy of customers, employees and family.
Related Article: How to Protect Your Small Business From Cyber Attacks
As an IoT advocacy site points out, however, automated and virtual security is critical to any commercial-grade IoT applications. A number of companies and industry consortiums, such as the 112 members of the Linux Foundation Collaboration project AllSeen Alliance, promise to be working on IoT standards that will be much more efficient and secure than those currently used on the Internet.
In the meantime, here’s what you need to consider both as a user and a participant.
Don’t Be Sony Pictures
Sony Pictures recently experienced a rather embarrassing hack (which was actually the latest in a series of embarrassing hacks). Although some blame North Korea, disgruntled employees or teenagers with too much time on their hands, some argue that Sony bears some responsibility. Sony should have been better prepared against cyber-attacks, particularly after its Play Station network was breached. Your business and your employees need to adopt Scouting rule number one: be prepared.
Get Better Security Technology
The first word in cyber security is password protection. It shouldn’t be the last. Two-step authorization provides an extra layer of security. You enter a password, then enter a unique, one-time numerical code sent to your smartphone. If you don’t have the smartphone in your possession (most hackers won’t), you can’t get the code to gain authorized access to your business systems and personal data.
Related Article: Better Safe Than Sorry: Two-Step Authorization
The More Security, the Better
When it comes to security, you can’t have enough. Developers are talking about things like facial recognition, and the iPhone already has fingerprint Touch ID. USA Today reports that Bitdefender's Box, a small, white, router-looking box ($199, then $99 a year), encrypts data going into and out of your home or business so that it's much harder for anyone to steal.
The more layers of security you can add, even beyond what an IoT provider may offer, the better.
Nothing is perfect, of course, but take as many precautions as possible because hacking happens. Particularly in the context of IoT, you are not jeopardizing just yourself, but a whole lot of other things.