January 24, 2013

Securing the ‘Internet of Things’

This blog post is also featured as a guest blog post on the WEF blog

Until recently the term Internet of Things (IoT) has been a novel concept and ambitious vision that encompasses the endless technological possibilities that exist in a future where everything is truly connected. Today that world is finally becoming a reality.

We see evidence of this smart world all around us. From Jawbone to Nest to cars that are powered by the Android OS (perhaps a bit farther off), we’re engaging in new ways of interacting with technology through touch, voice and sensors. Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs put this into perspective at the CES conference recently where he commented that our unrivaled adoption of mobile worldwide and the associated shift of mobile technologies into many areas of our lives including TV, office, electric vehicles, health care and education has been instrumental in spurring the momentum of IoT.

The world is ready for this shift and the potential is huge. Currently, there are an estimated 8.7 billion Internet of thing- connected devices. That’s hardly a dent, according to Cisco, which estimates that more than 99% of physical objects that may one day join the network are still unconnected.

Industry and governments are making ready—last year the IoT-GSI Global Standards Initiative was created to promote a unified approach for development of technical standards enabling the IoT on a global scale.  As we lay the foundation for this new world, we must prioritize the security risks associated with this shift. With its many benefits, IoT also poses great security and data privacy challenges that must be addressed and governed. As the physical and digital worlds merge, and we become more reliant on the interconnections forged, we need to collaborate to ensure the integrity of its security.  The consequences of not doing so escalate as the physical world entwines with our digital one. At the Forum this week, we should prioritize conversations about what it will take to protect the critical infrastructure that is powering the ‘internet of things’.

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