In the past few years, we have seen several technological revolutions. Internet, computers and smartphones have totally changed the way we live. Have you ever wondered what lies ahead?
Well, the way things are going, the next big tech. revolution would see the robots entering our home, Artificial Intelligence taking over more of our gadgets and our machine ‘talking’ to each other to get things done for us automatically.
But what about our machines talking to each other, you might ask. Well, that’s where the Internet of Things (IoT) comes into play.
Most people in India still don’t know much about the Internet of Things. Very simply, it is the technology that connects our daily use appliances to each other and to related services. These connected devices can include consumer products, durable goods, vehicles, industrial components, sensors, and many other everyday objects. All these things can be made ‘smart’ by equipping with internet connectivity.
The possibilities of Internet of Things are numerous. I’ve already seen Smart Containers that can inform the connected service about how much content is left in them. All the data gets stored in your smartphone. And when you enter a ‘smart’ grocery shop (there aren’t any yet in India), the shop knows what you need and the staff readies your order without you having to say anything. Or maybe, the grocery might get automatically delivered to your home based upon orders by your containers!
More recently, at the Amazon.in Launchpad inaugration, I saw a pendant that syncs with the smartphone. At the press of a button, it can send alerts and user’s current location to pre-selected contacts. Now, Internet of Things can do even more. Just imagine, with the press of the button in that pendant, the cab service you use most often also gets alerted about your emergency. They at once send you a message about the nearest available cab in your vicinity. With a tap, you order a cab to escape to safety. Maybe, that pendant can also monitor the user’s health and send alerts to user’s doctor in case of emergency.
The possibilities are endless! IoT, powered by better and expanding internet infrastructure and powerful data analytic capabilities is capable of transforming the way we work, live, and play. In fact, projections for the impact of IoT on economy are staggering. As per some estimates, by 2025 world will have as many as 100 billion connected IoT devices with a global economic impact of more than $11 trillion.
However, India is still lagging behind in this race of IoT.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Rajesh Razdan, Founder and CEO of mCarbon. mCarbon is one of the leading providers of revenue uplift and customer value management products for Telecom operators around the world.
And the main point I learnt from the conversation was what a big opportunity IoT can be for telecom providers. Our telecom providers have a lot of data about us. And they can use this data or sell this data to their partners (yeah, I know that sounds like a privacy nightmare!) who can use it to provide a world of connected devices and services to us. Let me share an example that Mr. Razdan gave. Suppose a person is starting towards his office. The telecom provider has the data about the office location and the route the person takes. In case the route has some unexpected traffic jam, the telecom operator can send an alert to the user about it. Our landline phones and modems can become ‘smart’ too! Mr. Razdan also expressed that Internet of Things can also help telecom providers in providing better and quicker customer service. I, for one, would definitely love it if every time my broadband goes down, my provider is alerted and can fix the issue or at least notify me about the problem’s cause and expected time of resolution. That will save me the time and hassle of calling up the customer service and registering my complaint.
I’m feeling very excited about the techno treats we might have in the future because of IoT. It is a mighty power just waiting to be tapped. But, we also know that every mighty power is a mighty danger too. IoT is going to gain immense popularity. The cyber criminals know it too.
Intel Security’s Cyber Threat Predictions for 2017 predicts rising number of threats targeted at IoT devices. As per this report , there’s a rising threat of IoT malware opening backdoors into the connected home. Even scarier is the prediction that these attacks and infections can go undetected for years. The report also predicts that ‘Machine Learning’ will accelerate the proliferation and increase the sophistication of social engineering attacks.
Even in common sense we can see that if stuff like our kitchen containers become connected to the net, not all of these would have a high level of security. So it might end up like opening numerous backdoors for the cyber criminals to step into our homes and bank accounts. Also, the idea of our various service providers knowing every little thing we do is not quite a welcome thought.
But then, the world is already under the web of the internet. There’s little that’s private now. Google already knows an awful lot about us. So do our telecom providers. So the privacy issue is already there and we are living with it because we can’t live without internet and phones. Same will hold true with the Internet of Things.
As for cyber threats, Intel’s report also predicts that Mobile attacks will increase too and they will combine mobile device locks with credential theft. These kind of attacks will allow cyber thieves to access such things as banks accounts and credit cards and rob us of our money. Ransomware on our computers and smartphones are a major threat too. But we can’t stop using our computers and smartphones. We won’t be able to stop using IoT devices either.
The only thing to do is to welcome the future but don’t let go of your common sense and the prescribed security measures.