The Internet of Things (IoT) promises great things for businesses. It offers the opportunity for businesses to open up their existing markets, analyse huge amounts of customer data and from that, develop new products and services, as well as new efficiencies.

We are about to witness an unprecedented level of connectivity, which is both daunting and exciting. We are starting to see the scale of the impact already as connected household products come to the market, but the IoT revolution will be about much more than smart meters and connected fridges.

Welcome to the jungle

The real opportunity for the Internet of Things lies in the business world. For example, the banking industry is experimenting with voice controlled apps to make banking ultra-personal and instantaneous.

Retailers, such as Amazon, are exploring IoT technology to advance their existing business models and to innovate on their customer proposition. For Amazon, its connected "Dash Buttons", devices that consumers swipe to instantly order more nappies or detergent, or other goods that tend to run out just when you need them the most, but for others it could be connected mirrors, in-store sensors and intelligent shelving.

It’s not just in consumer facing services either, IoT is revolutionising fleet management with companies able to monitor fuel consumption in real time, as well predict when vehicles will need maintenance before a failure occurs. In a similar vein, smart sensors can be deployed across an entire value chain from product manufacture, right through distribution to the final store. This kind of deployment means every item can be located and counted, increasing business efficiency overall.

However, as an IoT future beckons for business, we need to consider that while the adoption of new connectivity will bring new benefits there will be new risks as well. The threat to data security is primary among these risks.

Currently, the adoption or push for IoT technologies within organisations is often not coming from the traditional technology focused parts of the business such as the CIO and IT department.

Instead, an IoT focused project may be designed, commissioned and deployed by marketing or facilities management for example. In these instances the efficiencies and new routes to market may be aligned, but the security component could be an afterthought.

There’s more to it than just thinking about security however. It’s important that the security standards set alongside any IoT project are not just “security as usual”. recognise the particular challenges that IoT brings to existing security policies and technologies and architect accordingly.

Mushrooming connected devices means thousands more possible points of entry to your data, and potential breach points for your business. With IoT, the perimeter has not just been extended; you can no longer in any seriousness define its limits. That is just one of the security challenges to consider. As the technology becomes more ubiquitous and more businesses embark on IoT adoption strategies, there will be more security implications to take into account, and just like the future applications of IoT, we don’t know what they are yet.

Therefore any IoT application, product or service must have security designed into it from the outset, and it must be fully scalable. This will need input from the IT and security department but in turn, that department must understand the aims and benefits of the IoT project, so that it can be made secure without inhibiting its function. This will mean some serious new thinking by security professionals who have been used to dealing with conventional networks, traditional working methods and routes to market. 

Currently only a few industries or sectors are embracing IoT fully, which means that the rest of us can learn from their experiences. The Internet of Things is about to change everything, so we must prepare for the security challenges it will create.

This article is brought to you in association with Intel


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