By the Blouin News Technology staff

The unknowns of the internet of things

by in Enterprise Tech.

(Source: Perspecsys Photos/flickr)

(Source: Perspecsys Photos/flickr)

by Juliana Kenny

Despite the great buzz around the internet of things and its pending global takeover, many questions remain unanswered about how a network of billions of communication-capable devices will actually function. Here, Blouin News looks at some of the reasons why the internet of things still has a long way to go:

Security might be the top concern for both public and private sectors regarding the internet of things. More than one research firm has predicted that billions of connected devices will be online by 2020. Given the global security problem with devices that are currently connected to the internet, and the yearly rise in cyber crime, the prospect of adding billions more is daunting to developers, network providers, and governments, to say the least.

A white paper published this month from Electric Light & Power in conjunction with Cisco and Intel explores the security issues of the internet of things just on the utility side of the market. While utility companies have already begun to look at IoT as a way to cut costs and increase grid liability, any grid with more connected end points unveils more potential vulnerabilities for that system. The white paper states:

The true value of IoT can only be realized if the perimeter is able to detect and prevent sophisticated attacks. And at the same time, any IoT solution must alleviate the compliance burden imposed by standards such as NERC-CIP, and other cybersecurity and physical security standards.

The security standards must also apply to networks that connect consumer-facing devices as well, not just utility grids.

But these billions of devices won’t be connected at all without a proper infrastructure — something that the EE Times writes is currently too “immature to reap profits for many corporations and investors.” The publication quotes Bryan Hale, president of Resin.io, a startup that just received $9 million in funding for its technology that addresses managing and remotely monitoring millions of deployed IoT devices: “There are already a lot of do-it-yourself types of IoT devices on the market. They aren’t updating firmware or software for their devices, and we see a lot of scary scenarios emerging.”

The data side of the internet of things remains a question as well. With tons of devices producing tons of data, where will all this data be stored?

Not to mention the lack of an internet of things protocol at the moment. Tech bigwigs are doing their best to create a protocol for IoT — for example, the AllSeen Alliance’s AllJoyn platform. AllJoyn is gaining momentum with developers, but the protocol element of IoT is still anyone’s game. Google, Samsung, and Apple are a few companies that have their own platforms.

The internet of things presents a new and unique set of vulnerabilities. The unknowns have many scratching their heads in anticipation of just what a world of billions upon billions of connected devices will look like.