No doubt you’ve heard the term Internet of Things being bandied about lately. If you’re wondering what exactly it means, here’s a quick explanation.
The Internet to date has been a network of computers, each of which generally represents a human content provider. People write blogs and articles, they post updates and images, and they browse and download stuff. In other words, they provide and request content, and they communicate with other people. But as more and more devices get connected, these “things” become content providers and consumers – creating, requesting and providing data to each other, making up an “Internet of Things.”
Your New Worst Friend?
The question is, how will this change the way the world works? For one, this introduces a whole new level of privacy and security issues. It’s one thing when your friend posts check-ins advertising your bar-crawl habits to the whole world. What happens when your GPS connected martini glass does it automatically?
Similarly, we all saw the kind of digital disaster increasing levels of connectivity wrought on Wired journalist Mat Honan. What happens when it’s not just your MacBook, but your home that gets hacked into? (If you haven’t heard about Mat Honan’s experience, you can read about it here.)
Of course, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Internet Of Things is not quite in all our homes yet, which is an excellent time to start thinking about such things. Is the security and stability of these networks up to snuff given the kind of safety-critical systems we are connecting to them? When your music, media and entertainment related apps crash or lock up, it can be rather frustrating. On the other hand, it’s a little more serious when your heating system crashes and overheats, or your alarm system refuses to let you out of the house, or both!
In an upcoming post, I’ll cover some issues found in the automotive industry as they moved from straightforward electrical and mechanical systems to wireless networked systems. I think there’s a lot to learn, since cars are probably are our most successful networked, sensor-driven environments yet.
In the meanwhile, what security concerns do you see in your increasingly networked world?
Icons in images designed by Double-J Designs.