Cyber Security and the Networked World
Many people view the growing nature of the internet of things in one of two ways. They either see it as a world where literally every person, place and thing can literally talk to each other through sensors and wireless connectivity, and see this as a massive boon for mankind.
Other people see this same world as being quite horrific, and bringing up huge issues in terms of privacy and security, and do not believe it will ever really happen.
The internet of things essentially refers to a process where pretty much every device that we use at home and at work, everything we wear, everything we use will in some way be connected to each other wirelessly.
This process allows manufacturers and governments to collect huge amounts of information about people in a way that has never been foreseen or planned for. This information is now being collectively referred to as big data, and there is a huge industry trying to work out how this information can be used, largely for the benefit of manufacturers and supposedly for the benefit of government planning in transport and urban development.
The reality is that all major manufacturers of virtually every product on the planet are now either putting sensors into their devices, or planning how to, in order to enable the internet of things to happen.
Whilst there are certainly technical difficulties to overcome, a whole range of what are being referred to as internet of things platforms are being developed, which will in the end enable a seamless integration of these devices.
People may doubt that this will happen, will happen quickly or at all. Sadly this is wishful thinking for a number of reasons.
The main reason is that the main beneficiary of the internet of things well in fact be a vast range of businesses and corporations who stand both to slash costs hugely and increase profits significantly at the same time.
That of itself will drive the Internet of things.
This to an extent is already happening in supermarkets, And is a really good example of how this process will work.
All products in supermarkets have a barcode, at the checkout this barcode is swiped against a screen and is added to the shoppers bill.
At the same time, the barcode feeds into the inventory system of the supermarket and sets in motion a process right back to the distribution center, and ultimately the production process itself.
In addition, supermarkets are now widely installing self-service checkout tills that means the individual customer has to swipe the products themselves, thus reducing the need for staff even more.
Whilst there are huge social and libertarian issues involved in all this, the issue of privacy and cyber security is huge, and is likely in many ways to get overlooked in the rush for profit and cost-cutting.
The amount of personal information being processed by all manufacturers of these devices and products is colossal, and all potentially at risk of being hacked or compromised in some type of data breach. This could lead to a massive erosion of trust in a number of systems currently used, and could lead to significant growth of identity fraud and theft for a whole range of individuals.