Opportunity and threat
The opportunities provided by the IoT are vast, and they should not be thrown away out of fears around security
“Today, we see the world going through what I’d like to call the smart transformation, driven by disruptive trends like mobility, social, cloud and data analytics. This smart transformation is happening at different levels in different regions across the world, and some societies are more innovative and advanced than others.”
That’s the view of Jean Turgeon, vice president and chief technologist of software-defined networks at Avaya. Indeed, he goes as far as to say that we’re witnessing an inflection point in history, comparable to the birth of cities and the industrial revolution. And while that may come across as a little lofty, there’s truth to Turgeon’s point that never before have there been 7 billion people involved in a global transformation, and yet, thanks to ubiquitous connectivity, this is exactly what is happening now.
While not everyone on the globe is connected to the internet, the trends show that, in the not-too-distant future, the majority of people will be online. But aside from the people, it’s also things that are becoming connected, and this is giving rise to an internet of things ecosystem that can provide benefits to enterprises and people alike.
“The wave is there, and everyone - people, enterprises, technology providers and businesses - is playing their part in its acceleration. Most of us would see this ecosystem in terms of three building blocks: smart cities that provide the infrastructure, the IoT, which is all the things – today and tomorrow – that are going to be connected, and the enterprise and its readiness to complete the circle,” Turgeon says.
However, it must be admitted that a spanner has been thrown in the works of the building out of this ecosystem, in the form of security concerns around the IoT. This year, as the IoT has gained more attention, big security vendors have been quick to point out that, with many recently released connected devices, it is all too easy for cyber-criminals to take advantage of vulnerabilities. However, according to Turgeon, these concerns should not hamper enterprises’ efforts to explore the Internet of Things and contribute to the ecosystem.
“The IoT is under threat because of the security concerns and the many ways that ‘things’ can be hacked and used in malicious ways. You would recall the recent issue of an ethical hacker breaking into an aircraft’s network through its communications system and executing a ‘climb’ command. There will now be many more negative perceptions towards IoT, which is knee-jerk reaction,” he says.
“In my view, the debate we should be having is how far technology can deliver security to citizens and governments? Can we today catch a crime even before it happens? Of course we can, and we are moving quickly in bringing these innovations. For example, ATM frauds are one of the biggest concerns of financial institutions and users alike. So how can you prevent an illegal ATM withdrawal before it happens, using IOT and data analytics?”
Indeed, Turgeon’s view is that, any public security and safety scenario can today be addressed and solved by integrating and customising a number of technologies to deliver a specific outcome – and that includes the Internet of Things.