The definition implies that the Internet of Things is a network of intelligent, interconnected devices. What devices can be part of the IoT? Find out about the most important advantages of this technology and the risks it can pose.
IoT, or the Internet of Things – the basic definition
Internet of Things (IoT for short) is a concept that, according to the British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton, means a network of intelligent, interconnected devices. The definition was created in 1999 – since then the concept of IoT has been constantly developing. Today, our community is witnessing tremendous technological progress, including the growing popularity of the Internet of Things.
Internet of Things – What Is It Exactly?
The Internet of Things was called a network made up of connected devices. This is the case, for example, when home appliances communicate with each other to obtain additional information – so they don’t need human intervention to function properly. A smart house is a house equipped with devices connected via IoT. Internet of Things is also a paired smartwatch and a smartphone that exchange data with each other using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth wireless connectivity.
The concept of Internet of Things is slowly becoming a mandatory element of many business processes – companies can use smart devices to learn about customer needs, be able to quickly analyze them and adapt the advertising message, and even the type of products or services offered. Smart cities are also being created, i.e. smart cities that use new technologies – e.g. traffic and energy consumption monitoring systems – to make life easier for residents, and usually also to take care of the environment. Examples of metropolises developing in this direction are Singapore, Dubai, Oslo and Copenhagen.
Internet of Things in practice
Internet of Things is a technology that is helpful in virtually every industry – from home appliances, through the automotive industry, to devices used in medicine by health services. The flow of information between different machines allows for their intelligent cooperation in the service of man. For example, surveillance cameras can work together with motion sensors and, after detecting the presence of an intruder, send a warning message to the smartphone of the owner of the facility. The Internet of Things is also expandable – the same cameras can send a notification to an alarm and activate it, or even lock smart locks and trap a burglar inside.
When it comes to business applications, IoT devices allow you to automate many tasks and thus optimize various processes. The Internet of Things also enables better monitoring of work and creating the conditions in which it is most efficient. Intelligent devices can run diagnostics on their own and detect potential failures and problems in advance, and then prevent them without the need to involve a human being.
The Internet of Things was able to develop thanks to the worldwide deployment of a new generation of mobile telecommunications networks – 5G. This standard enables even faster data transmission between connected devices, it also allows to reduce delays and increase the stability of connections. Devices connected to each other via the 5G network can send and receive data even when there are one million machines per square kilometer. In the case of the 4G standard, it was possible for the maximum density of 100,000 devices per square kilometer.
IoT can be a tasty morsel for cybercriminals – if they gain access to a smart device, they can take control over it and use it for their own purposes. So you should take care of its security as well as in the case of a smartphone or laptop.
IoT devices and examples of threats that are associated with the development of the Internet of Things
Before discussing the risks associated with the Internet of Things, it is worth mentioning the types of machines that can use this technology. There are a lot of them, and the list is constantly growing.
What devices can be called IoT devices? Some of them are:
- equipment monitoring the health of patients in hospital rooms;
- automatic ventilation in buildings;
- home sensors – e.g. smoke or motion sensors;
- coffee machines with sensors for monitoring the quality of water and coffee beans;
- smart light bulbs;
- cameras included in the monitoring;
- room air conditioners;
- air purifiers in apartments, houses and offices;
- fitness bands monitoring the health condition and activity of the exerciser;
- cleaning robots and mopping vacuum cleaners;
- blinds controlled remotely or automatically;
- self-steering drones;
- smartwatches that help in planning and implementing sports training;
- household appliances – remotely controlled washing machines, dishwashers and smart refrigerators;
- climatic conditions monitoring stations;
- irrigation systems for agricultural crops;
- heating systems in buildings and thermostats.
What are the risks of the Internet of Things? One of them is the loss of privacy – intelligent devices collect a lot of data, analyze it and use it to choose the best settings and modes. For example, smart lighting has information about when the household members get up and go to sleep. Meanwhile, the Google assistant knows the preferences for the stores in which the user makes the most purchases. The task of companies offering IoT devices is to reliably secure this type of data.
Other dangers associated with the Internet of Things include the risk of an intelligent system hacking and being taken over by a cybercriminal. In theory, any attempted external attack should be prevented by the hardware itself, but there are occasions when a hacker detects a vulnerability. Thus, another mission of companies offering IoT solutions is to properly encrypt the data of smart devices and to prevent control by unauthorized persons.
The Internet of Things brings many opportunities and facilities in our lives, but also involves numerous threats. Companies that market products using Internet of Things technology should ensure that IoT devices are properly protected against external attacks. Then, the data stored on them will be well protected, and the risk of misuse of intelligent devices by unauthorized persons will also be minimized.