The IT realm is experiencing the rapid advance of technology that connects, monitors, and shares almost every aspect of the digital age, thanks to what is now referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT promises to provide unprecedented access to the devices that make up everything from assembly lines to transportation systems to weather sensors. IDC projects that the IoT market will grow to $7.1 trillion over the next six years.
However, unfettered access to that much data is becoming a recognized security concern, and the onus of security is being placed on network administrators. With that in mind, security hardware vendor Fortinet set out to survey consumers to find out how big of a concern IoT security actually is.
The resulting report, "Internet of Things: Connected Home," was produced in partnership with GMI, a division of Lightspeed Research. More than 1,800 consumers between the ages of 20 and 50 who claim to be tech savvy participated in the survey, which was administered in 11 countries around the world, including the United States, Australia, China, Germany, India, and the United Kingdom.
The majority of respondents believe that an environment where appliances and electronics are seamlessly connected to the internet is "extremely likely" to be a reality in the next five years. The actual number was 61% in the US, and an overwhelming 84% in China.
Backing up that adoption reality is the fact that 4 out of 10 people surveyed indicated they'd be willing to pay more for a home that was optimized to take advantage of IoT technologies (nearly half if you include the "maybe" group). Half of those surveyed also said they'd be willing to pay more for better internet service capable of smoothly handling an IoT connected home environment. Fewer than 20% of respondents from the US stated they would absolutely not pay more for Internet service to accommodate IoT. The survey also indicated that there was significant concern about sensitive data being exposed as a result of IoT. Some 70% of the survey participants indicated that they are "extremely concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about data breaches or having sensitive personal information compromised. The majority of respondents expressed fear over privacy and trust issues and nearly 60% of those surveyed in the US agreed with the statement, "Privacy is important to me, and I do not trust how this type of data may be used."
As far as the possibility of a breach is concerned, 67% of Americans answered they would feel "Completely violated and extremely angry to the point where I would take action" if personal data was accessed without knowledge or consent. A fact further strengthened by majority of those surveyed offering that their government should regulate how data is collected, and what vendors are allowed or not allowed to do with it once it's collected.
With such phenomenal growth predicted and potential adopters voicing their security and privacy concerns, it becomes very clear that network administrators must start immediately considering how IoT will impact security across the enterprise, and should already be planning for the security technologies, encryption schemes and access policies that will bring security to the data collected. What's more, that data may need to be incorporated into big data analytics platforms, meaning that more layers of security will become necessary. The lesson here is to approach IoT with care and consider the value of the data gathered, as well as the impact any type of breach may have. That should provide the fodder for building security systems that can deal with the sudden rise in data collected, stored and mined.
Frank J. Ohlhorst is an award-winning technology journalist, author, professional speaker and IT business consultant. He has worked in editorial at CRN, eWeek and Channel Insider, and is the author of Big Data Analytics. His certifications include MCNE, MCSE, A+, N+, L+, and Security+.