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2018 Predictions for the Internet of Things (IoT)

As with any new year, there are with plenty of expectations and predictions.  There is nothing different about this year.  Especially as it relates to the Internet of Things (IoT). With over 20 billion current “connected” devices and an expected 6 trillion dollars by 2020, there are not a “lack” of predictions.  Even less surprising are the security concerns surrounding these devices.  With every new device that is activated, security exposure becomes exponentially greater.

IoT Will Grow

The growth in IoT is one of the most obvious predictions.  Forrester Research has predicted the IoT will become “the backbone” of many industries as it continues to grow.  IoT will continue to expand next year, with more devices coming online every day.

  • Retail – This vertical is projected to reach $35.64 billion by 2020. Retail companies are betting that Internet-enabled products will grow the value of their brands and will allow them to improve the experiences of their customer base.
  • Medical/Healthcare – Healthcare is suffering from a lack of large-scale interoperability of its medical devices and systems. This is leading to massive amounts of unstructured data being collected and inherit operational issues. The industry is looking to IoT enabled solutions to connect with patients, track medical analytics and enhance operational efficiency.
  • Manufacturing/Industrial– According to IDC’s report, manufacturing companies globally will spend up to $189 billion on IoT solutions. From shop floor control to inventory management, sensors, controls and devices are being connected up to gain better insight and analytics.  Every day, companies are finding new ways to make their supply chain more autonomous and efficient.

IoT Infrastructure becoming increasingly complex and fragmented

While the benefits of IoT and the new services that it can enable will be attractive to enterprises and customers alike, the growth of IoT presents challenges. Every system upgrade, new connection or third-party application added to existing IT infrastructure will increase complexity and additional points of failure.  To make it more complex, these devices are usually not enterprise grade and lack the management controls expected from an enterprise appliance.  IT departments must take an assertive role through this transformation to ensure their environments do not descend into chaos.

More IoT Startups will pop up

More startups will emerge in the Internet of Things market in 2018. These startups will look to capitalize on building their businesses around interoperability, analytics and security enablement challenges.  Many of these startups will realize that they need the vertical market expertise and their customer relationships to be successful.  The technology is one thing but building expertise in targeted markets will be just as challenging.

IoT security concerns will continue to grow

IoT integrations in the publicly available systems are growing security concerns. Forrester predicts even more damaging cyber-attacks across a wide swath of IoT implementations. Due to the lack of controls and governance, Forrester is predicting more attacks on IoT devices, as well as the platforms they run on.

Interestingly, IoT cybersecurity also plays a big role in another recent Forrester report. The firm’s 2018 cybersecurity predictions see money-oriented IoT attacks on the rise, taking precedence over attempts to cause damage or sow chaos for political, social or military causes. IoT-targeted ransomware that targets vehicles, point-of-sale machines, and medical equipment is reportedly being explored.

The disconnect between IoT and security doesn’t make sense. On the one hand, people say that IoT is hurtling forward like a runaway freight train. On the other hand, the same people warn that in many ways, IoT is not ready for prime time and has deep, inherent vulnerabilities. Yet, most tend to agree that IoT is a good thing, and very few seem to be interested in slowing down or making the kind of massive investments it’s likely to take to bring real security confidence to the industry.  Not surprising like most technological advances in the past decade, most companies are focused on time to market which leads to shortcuts and less thought out security solutions.

Buckle up and get ready

Although the growth within the IoT space is very exciting, there is an inherit concern about the security around these devices.  Millions of unsecure, Internet-enabled devices will provide new threat vectors for hackers and malicious users. As there are a lack of proper IoT-oriented security standards and configuration practices, expect these devices to be increasingly used as weapons for DDoS, identity subversion and other attacks.  It will be interesting to see how the industry will address the looming security problems facing IoT in 2018.  Looking forward to what 2018 has in store for the world of IoT!