IoT has become the happening and one of the most prevalent technological innovations of the 21st century. We are at the cusp of a digital revolution, and bringing all of the devices around us to a full circle. Many technologies have individually contributed to reaching where we are now and include the likes of cloud computing, Artificial intelligence, Big data, and machine learning to name a few. The internet of things involves the collection of large quanta of data that is obtained from various IoT connected devices. The IoT devices could be anything from everyday household appliances to industrial machinery. The transfer of information, analysis, and use of it to substantiate an action, in turn, makes these devices “smart”.
Think of a new age door lock – a traditional deadbolt which in turn is connected to a central hub. It will mean that the property owner will now be able to gain access to the property in a keyless manner. The owner can also issue guest keys or digital passes. Every time the door is opened or someone triggers the alarm, the owner will receive a mobile alert that can inform the owner and unlock/ lock the device at the top of the screen. This is an example of how IoT can help you seamlessly connect the devices. The lock will send the necessary information to a server employing an active internet connection. The data then reaches the owner phone. A typical case of seamless transmission of data from one IoT connected device to another.
The Challenges That IoT Puts Forward
When innovations come into the scene, they provide a solution to previous problems and simplify things. Nonetheless, at the same time, there is a new set of challenges that are brought forward with smart business technologies, smart home devices, or industrial IoT devices. Here are some of the prominent challenges that exist:
Security or more specifically, cyber security is that which pertains to the security of information technology. This is not just limited to the data connection and its vulnerability but the actual device or hardware itself. Let us help you paint a picture. Imagine a property that functions as smart property, and is equipped with IoT sensors. A property manager or the owner of the property will be able to maintain and keep check of the device, the incoming data stream, send commands, and what-not. Imagine, if an intruder was able to seize control and manipulate the data or even the sensor itself? Disable alarms? Gain access to the smart property? Switch off safety function and sabotage the property with fire? The harm that can be done is limitless.
We just used a house as an example. What if it is an industrial plant? Unknown individuals that have ulterior motives may shut down machines, overheat or overload the system, steal away sensitive data and so much more. This is why cyber security and appropriate security measures need to be put in place to ensure that data is encrypted, access is limited, and strong authorization is needed to gain use of the data or the IoT connected device itself.
This is a hot topic, with Facebook CEO being called out for privacy breaches and misusing user data. This again stems from the previously stated issue of cyber security. Most online connections are backed behind encryption. The data is essentially converted to gibberish (encrypted) and once it reaches the target site it is deciphered to make sense and showcase the initial intention and meaning of the data sent across. IoT devices and platforms can collect, transmit and make use of the data that is unencrypted, as is the case with many platforms that act as interfaces for the connected devices/ networks, and which are maintained by inexperienced developers.
For a business, especially one that deals with sensitive information, the improper handling of the data can completely turn the customer, the employees, and the organization itself, vulnerable.
When there is a power outage, or the network service provider goes out, the complete system essentially goes offline. There are limited methods of interacting with the devices in such cases. This is why during natural calamities or emergencies, IoT solutions act less as solutions and more as problems. That means that the entire device is made unusable. Other times, they operate at reduced capacity. In worse off situations, the data collection and reporting processes are interrupted. There will be a need to invest in low-power and offline support systems if you are to make IoT solutions full proof and reliable. This will require plenty of testing, which will serve the “always ON” concept that has become true for most facets of modern technology; yes, even when resources are limited.
The Curtain Closer
In due course of time, we will be able to negate the shortcomings and truly embrace the IoT revolution that has marked the beginning of this century.