The hype surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT) has been talked about a lot in the media. But it is yet to be meaningful to the masses: many people still don’t know exactly what it involves. So why should you care? And, with the concept of IoT becoming more commonplace, how is it affecting our lives?
The ‘thing’ in IoT can be anything; ranging from implanted glucose monitoring systems to smart fridges which can tell you when you’re out of milk. One of the first examples of an IoT device was a Coca-Cola vending machine at Carnegie Mellon University in the early 1980s. Programmers linked the machine to the internet so that they could check whether it was fully stocked or needed to be replenished, which saved time and improved efficiency.
It may soon provide new ways to make businesses more efficient, and bond the digital world with the real. IoT devices can produce real-time data that uncovers new insights; the data from these insights can give rise to new services and even improve safety.
What has attracted much media attention over the last couple of weeks however, are instances such as the Jeep Cherokee hacking. Luckily, it was only carried out as a test by researchers; but the realisation that they had taken control of a vehicle away from its driver was alarming nonetheless. Stories like these scare many into perceiving IoT as a disaster waiting to happen, bringing to light widespread concerns, such as hacking vulnerabilities and data privacy. For example, someone could deny you access to your car until you pay a fee, or block your key’s signal as you try to lock a door. This is why cybersecurity is an ever-pressing issue in contemporary society: without the correct security measures in place, anyone could infiltrate your possessions if they are connected to the internet.
However, a fundamental change in technology and society won’t occur unless there are issues to resolve. Case in point: the car hacking discovery was soon followed by a solution – 3DB Technologies developed a 5mm by 5mm chip to block possible car hackers. They are now working on commercial relationships with car manufacturers including BMW and Audi with the aim of having the chips integrated into keys by 2018.
Will this be soon enough? IoT faces a number of challenges and scrutiny already, which will only intensify as it progresses. But with each security breach, or hack, there will be patches and solutions to follow. Arguably, it is our duty to ensure that we educate ourselves on cybersecurity and become more technologically savvy to help protect ourselves. A proactive method of analysing the technology for flaws before they surface is a culture that needs to be instilled.