The Real Power of IoT is in the (Big) Data

It’s often said by folks who know about the Internet of Things (IoT) that within the next 5 years or so, 50 billion devices (give or take) will be connected to one another through the Internet. Generally speaking many believe that these devices will open up a world of innovation and creativity driving new solutions in smart cities, energy production, manufacturing, transportation and healthcare, to name a few industry sectors.

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 Infographic developed by Intel. See

What is sometimes left out of the conversation, however, is the potentially more life-altering impact that the data created by all these devices will have on everyday life. Enter “Big Data,”  the enormous amount of information that will be generated by those billions of connected devices in our cars, our homes, our factories and our cities.

This nexus was recently made crystal clear in Howard Baldwin’s  Forbes article that discussed Big Data analytics and the value of the same in the IoT:

“…[O]nce the Internet of Things gets rolling, stand back. We’re going to have data spewing at us from all directions – from appliances, from machinery, from train tracks, from shipping containers, from power stations…” 

Forbes IoT and Big DataCiting Drew Robb in his Enterprise Apps Today article, How IoT Will Change Big Data Analytics, Baldwin said that, by way of example, “Duke Energy’s Emerging Technology office is thinking about how to take advantage of communication from buildings, vehicles, people, power plants, and smart meters.”

According to Baldwin, “As one of Robb’s sources noted, “Every enterprise needs to factor in how the Internet of Things is going to affect them and their business, and must respond by establishing the right infrastructure to support this level of Big Data and analytics. If they don’t, they will fall behind.””

There will undoubtedly be thousands of companies who figure out how to add connectivity to their devices. The real prizes, however, will go to those who understand how to successfully harness and analyze the big data created by those devices, making possible previously unimagined ways of doing things and living our lives. Now  is the time to begin that journey.


Financial Firms Spending $2 Billion More on Cybersecurity

We can now add U.S. banks, insurers, money managers and other financial companies to the growing list of organizations spending more to protect and guard against the growing problem of cybersecurity. As reported by the Wall Street Journal this week, “Financial-services companies plan to bolster their cybersecurity budgets by about $2 billion over the next two years, according to accounting and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.”

“While Internet breaches have hit everyone from big-box retailers to the U.S. Postal Service, banks and investment firms are in the spotlight because they have been attacked frequently and handle reams of sensitive client data, including millions of checking and savings accounts. Banks’ response has been to spend more. Citigroup Inc. ’s annual cybersecurity budget has risen in recent years to more than $300 million, people familiar with the bank said.” (Emphasis added).

WSJ Firms bolster Cybersecurity budgets

“Overall, the number of financial firms reporting losses of more than $10 million from cybersecurity incidents increased more than 140% from a year ago, according to the PwC report. Financial-services companies accounted for 34% of all breaches in 2013, almost three times the percentage of the public sector, which garnered the next highest reading, according to the Verizon 2014 Data Breach Investigation report.” (Emphasis added).

Considering the risks involved and the highly sensitive and private nature of the information handled, stored and processed by these firms, this is definitely welcome news. It is also, however, a sign of things to come and an unwelcome indicator of the current threat level that companies in all industries face. Cyberthreats are real, they are increasing, and they can be devastating to consumers and the companies who serve them. Organizations across the spectrum would be well served to conduct their own risk analysis and dedicate whatever resources are needed to address these threats and ensure to the best extent possible the privacy and security of the information they are entrusted with.

WSJ cyber spike graph


Are 3rd Party Vendors Our Biggest Cybersecurity Risk?

It’s happened again…

Following reports that the Target security breach was carried out by way of a breach at a third party (HVAC) supplier, now comes news that the Home Depot breach – that compromised more than 56 million consumer credit and debit cards – was accomplished by criminals using a third-party vendor’s user name and password to enter the perimeter of the Company’s network. This marks the second such vendor-accessed high-profile high-volume cybersecurity breach in the last twelve months, with a resulting unlawful disclosure of a combined two hundred million customers’ personal and confidential information.

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In both cases, compromised or stolen data from the vendor was used to penetrate the outward facing retailer’s cybersecurity defenses – once in, criminals were able to hack,  navigate, expose and capture personal information.

“The attacker is just going after access vectors that for whatever reason remain weak,” said TK Keanini, CTO at Lancope, in an email. “[ ]  Supply chain is ripe and attractive because 1) it often has more access than it really should to the firm; and 2) the firm grinds down these suppliers’ margins so low that suppliers then cut costs by cutting security spending: It is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.”

Unfortunately, these breaches are certainly not the last we’ll see that are vendor-originated. They do, however, fully illustrate the need for organizations to carefully and thoroughly vet their suppliers, including and perhaps especially those who provide products and services seemingly unrelated to technology or networking. Procurement, legal and IT should all be part of the vendor selection and on-boarding process to help best protect the organization, its assets, its reputation and its customers.

IoT Standards Movement Continues to Grow

The proliferation of standards for the Internet of Things (IoT) continued its growth today when the AllSeen Alliance, a “nonprofit open source consortium dedicated to driving the widespread adoption of products, systems and services that support the Internet of Everything,” announced that its group had expanded with the addition of nine (9) new companies and one new sponsored member.

dog hunter (IoT WiFi modules, control and sensor management solutions), FengLian (commercial WiFi and intelligent home product and support provider), ForgeRock(R)(identity relationship management solutions ), INSTEON (networking technology for the connected home), MobilityLab (next-generation enterprise mobility solution MobileSputnik), NETGEAR (global networking company), Organic Response (sensor-based lighting control system), Quanta Computer (Fortune Global 500 Company, the largest manufacturer of notebook computers) and VeriSign, Inc. (global leader in domain names and Internet security) have joined the initiative according to the press release. New sponsored member Korea Electronics Technology Institute also joined the group. The Alliance now totals 80 companies and 12 sponsored members.

“AllSeen Alliance members are collaborating to advance the seamless connection of a range of objects and devices in homes, cars and businesses by building out an open source software framework, called AllJoyn(TM). Through code that is available today and continuously updated through contributions by members and the open source community, AllJoyn acts as a common language for devices to interact regardless of brand and other infrastructure considerations.”

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Standards-making bodies such as AllSeen have been growing rapidly over the past few years, as the quest for common languages, rules, requirements and protocols tries to keep up with the advancements in technologies now driving IoT.  Other groups including but not limited to the Industrial Internet Consortium, the Open Internet Consortium, JCA-IoT, IoT GSI, GSC MSTF, Thread, and the International Organization for Standards are all attempting to develop commonalities to support and drive the interoperability of the estimated 50 billion devices that will make up the Internet of Things in our homes, cars and workplaces by 2020.