The internet of things, or IoT, is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
A thing in the internet of things can be a person with a heart monitor implant, a farm animal with a biochip transponder, an automobile that has built-in sensors to alert the driver when tire pressure is low or any other natural or man-made object that can be assigned an Internet Protocol (IP) address and is able to transfer data over a network.
Increasingly, organizations in a variety of industries are using IoT to operate more efficiently, better understand customers to deliver enhanced customer service, improve decision-making and increase the value of the business.
Example “Home automation”:
Home automation is one of the best examples of IoT. Smart homes or IoT-based home automation systems are becoming popular day by day. In a smart home, consumer electronic gadgets such as lights, fans, air-conditioners, etc. can be connected to each other via the internet. This interconnection enables the user to operate these devices from a distance. A smart home is capable of lighting control, energy management, expansion, and remote access. Currently, this application of IoT is not utilized at a large scale because the installation cost is too high, which makes it difficult for a majority of people to afford it. However, home automation holds quite a promising future.
How does IoT work?
An IoT ecosystem consists of web-enabled smart devices that use embedded systems, such as processors, sensors and communication hardware, to collect, send and act on data they acquire from their environments. IoT devices share the sensor data they collect by connecting to an IoT gateway or other edge device where data is either sent to the cloud to be analyzed or analyzed locally. Sometimes, these devices communicate with other related devices and act on the information they get from one another. The devices do most of the work without human intervention, although people can interact with the devices — for instance, to set them up, give them instructions or access the data.
The connectivity, networking and communication protocols used with these web-enabled devices largely depend on the specific IoT applications deployed.
IoT can also make use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to aid in making data collecting processes easier and more dynamic.
What are the benefits of IoT to organizations?
The internet of things offers several benefits to organizations. Some benefits are industry-specific, and some are applicable across multiple industries. Some of the common benefits of IoT enable businesses to:
- monitor their overall business processes;
- improve the customer experience (CX);
- save time and money;
- enhance employee productivity;
- integrate and adapt business models;
- make better business decisions; and
- generate more revenue.
IoT encourages companies to rethink the ways they approach their businesses and gives them the tools to improve their business strategies.
IoT security and privacy issues:
The internet of things connects billions of devices to the internet and involves the use of billions of data points, all of which need to be secured. Due to its expanded attack surface, IoT security and IoT privacy are cited as major concerns.
In 2016, one of the most notorious recent IoT attacks was Mirai, a botnet that infiltrated domain name server provider Dyn and took down many websites for an extended period of time in one of the biggest distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks ever seen. Attackers gained access to the network by exploiting poorly secured IoT devices.
Because IoT devices are closely connected, all a hacker has to do is exploit one vulnerability to manipulate all the data, rendering it unusable. Manufacturers that don’t update their devices regularly — or at all — leave them vulnerable to cybercriminals.
Additionally, connected devices often ask users to input their personal information, including names, ages, addresses, phone numbers and even social media accounts — information that’s invaluable to hackers.
Hackers aren’t the only threat to the internet of things; privacy is another major concern for IoT users. For instance, companies that make and distribute consumer IoT devices could use those devices to obtain and sell users’ personal data.
Beyond leaking personal data, IoT poses a risk to critical infrastructure, including electricity, transportation and inancial services.
To summarize, IoT is a fast-growing industry, full of interesting ideas that will revolutionize the way we live our everyday lives, and being a part of all that, in one way or another, can be quite an enjoying experience.