Three Trending Topics in IoT: Privacy, Security, and Fog Computing

3 November 2015 Technology Transactions Today Blog
Authors: Shabbi S. Khan

Cisco has estimated that there will be 50 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices connected to the Internet by the year 2020. IoT has been a buzzword over the past couple of years. However, the buzz surrounding IoT in the year 2015 has IoT enthusiasts particularly excited. This year, IoT has taken center stage at many conferences around the world, including the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2015), SEMI CON 2015, and Createc Japan, among others. IoT took center stage at the 2015 FOLEYTech Summit with Chris Rezendes of IoT Capital Partners and Inex Advisors serving as the keynote speaker.

Here are three trending topics that were discussed at the 2015 FOLEYTech Summit by a few IoT experts: Brian Bedrosian, Broadcom; Wynn Grubbs, Plumchoice; Roger Krakoff, IoT Capital Fund; Tom Luczak, Flowthings; and Foley Partner Chris McKenna.

1. IoT will Redefine the Expectations of Privacy

Privacy is of utmost concern to consumers and enterprises alike. For consumers, the deployment of IoT devices in their homes and other places where they typically expect privacy will lead to significant privacy concerns. IoT devices in homes are capable of identifying people’s habits that are otherwise unknown to others. For instance, a washing machine can track how frequently someone does laundry, and what laundry settings they prefer. A shower head can track how often someone showers and what temperature settings they prefer. When consumers purchase these devices, they may not be aware that these IoT devices collect and/or monetize this data.

The world’s biggest Web companies, namely, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Yahoo are currently involved in lawsuits where the issues in the lawsuits relate to consent and whether the Web companies have provided an explicit enough picture of what data is being collected and how the data is being used. To share some perspective on the severity of the legal issues relating to online data collection, more than 250 suits have been filed in the U.S. in the past couple of years against companies’ tracking of online activities, compared to just 10 in the year 2010. As IoT devices become more prevalent, legal issues relating to consent and disclosure of how the data is being collected, used, shared or otherwise monetized will certainly arise.

2. Data and Device Security is Paramount to the Viability of an IoT Solution

At the enterprise level, data security is paramount. IoT devices can be sources of network security breaches and as such, ensuring that IoT devices remain secure is key. When developing and deploying IoT solutions at the enterprise level, enterprises should conduct due diligence to prevent security breaches via the IoT deployment, but also ensure that even if an IoT device is compromised, access to more sensitive data within the network remains secure. Corporations retain confidential data about their customers and are responsible for having adequate safeguards in place to protect the data. Corporations may be liable for deploying IoT solutions that are easily compromised. As we have seen with the countless data breaches over the past couple of years, companies have a lot to lose, financially and otherwise.

3. Immediacy of Access to Data and Fog Computing

For many IoT solutions, timing is everything. Many IoT devices and environments are “latency sensitive,” such that actions need to be taken on the data being collected almost instantaneously. Relying on the “cloud” to process the collected data and generate actions will likely not be a solution for such IoT environments, in which the immediacy of access to data is important. “Fog computing” aims to bring the storage, processing and data intelligence closer to the IoT devices deployed in the physical world to reduce the latency that typically exists with traditional cloud-based solutions. Companies developing large scale IoT solutions should investigate architectures where most of the processing is done at the end of the network and closer to the physical IoT devices.

The Internet of Things has brought about new challenges and opportunities for technology companies. Privacy, security and immediacy of access to data are three important trends companies must consider going forward.

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