There’s Cisco’s Internet of Everything, IBM’s Smarter Planet, MIT’s Ubiquitous Computing, and The Economist’s The Thingternet. You may even hear it referred to as “Machine-to Machine (M2M)” or “Device-to-Device (D2D) Communications.”
Call it by any other name, but the Internet of Things (IOT) is simply a massively interconnected network of people, processes, machines, and things made possible through the Cloud. Cisco has created a methodological connections counter to track how the IOT components are being connected each day. Its network engineers calculate the economic value of IOT to be $19 trillion.
International Data Corporation (IDC) likewise forecasts billions of things to be connected and trillions of dollars in economic development in its study on IOT spanning the period 2013-2020. This just goes to show the immensity of IOT and how it will impact the future IT world and people’s lives.
The Internet of Things is all around us
IOT is not limited to computers and mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and iPads. It includes just about anything that can be installed with a sensor.
IOT can be found at home. There are home thermostats that sense when people are home or not and adjust accordingly for comfort and cost savings. For an example of kitchen-related IOT, Electrolux is in the final stages of developing an intelligent refrigerator that comes complete with a microphone, speakers, and video camera. Its computer can suggest groceries needed and places to buy them, as well as meal recipes based on ingredients available in the refrigerator.
We can also see IOT when we travel, as new cars include about 50 or more computers. With navigation tools, virtual maps, performance indicators, automated gauges, timely alarms, and more, travelers can be assured of safer trips and smoother traffic flow.
Then there’s Wal-Mart’s famous RFID tag that monitors their global supply chain and ensures products reach their destinations at the right places at the right time. Coca-Cola’s interactive vending machines, which are projected to reach two million in a few years. And UPS connects thousands of delivery trucks to the Internet to make delivery faster.
IT scientists foresee that many more ordinary things will become intelligent as the Internet of Things gains steam. For instance, sensors can be scattered all over rainforests to prevent illegal logging. Sensors can also protect fruits, vegetables, and other produce from spoilage. They can keep farm animals from getting sick, and rivers from being contaminated.
The Internet of Things is limitless.
The Cloud is behind the Internet of Things
What makes the interconnectivity of things possible is a network of Cloud-based systems. Many companies simply don’t have the capability to provide a fail-safe network to support their IOT. The abundance of the Cloud has all it takes to support the high requirements.
IOT is not just about connecting things but looking for a Cloud-based service that can support an immensely interconnected ecosystem capable of enabling all the connected things. SDN, virtual network overlays, network service virtualization, borderless admission control, and security are critical options that need to be considered.
In the technology landscape, fundamental shifts bring new IT security concerns. Continuing developments open new portals of vulnerability and weakening security threshold levels for businesses – significantly increasing the complexity of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) role.
CISOs face new challenges in the IT rat race
A recent example of a real and consummated threat is the hacking of Code Spaces, a code-hosting company. As described in initial reports and on their website, a distributed denial-of service (DDoS) attack took place in June within a matter of 12 hours. An unauthorized person succeeded in partially or completely deleting data, machine configurations, and backups. The hack rendered the company unable to continue operating.
Code Spaces asserts that they have been able to overcome many DDoS attempts in the past. This time, the hacker may have worked around the weakest links to achieve such a debilitating goal. It is thus critical that CISOs and IT security officers take a proactive approach with regard to emerging threats, detecting vulnerabilities in systems, and knowing the danger levels and prevalence of such threats, so that they are better prepared for worst-case scenarios.
Essential expertise for the cyber age CISO
With constantly emerging technologies, the old CISO concept has changed. Beyond being tech-savvy, the new role of CISOs requires a transformed level of management competencies and leadership to succeed in a shifting environment.
New CISO skills include:
Business-mindedness with a new mindset – In the past, CISOs were confined to their own silos attending to technical matters, like maintaining machines and devices. Their new role now requires them to be a part of the big picture. They are needed in the boardroom to present a new vision, muster the resources to turn that vision into reality, and engage employees in new practices.
Leading and influencing by example – True leaders lead by example. They maintain a high standard of ideas, discipline, and ethics that are consistent with their actions. CISOs must earn the respect and loyalty of their team members, including superiors, to ensure the security of their business in cyber space.
Effective leadership communication skills – Good communicators, as opposed to good talkers, are able to reach their audiences, are active listeners, keep an open mind, and can read between the lines. Cyber security is an organizational priority that must engage all stakeholders in the organization to ensure fail-proof protection.
CISOs await a host of new challenges as IT changes happen, with new threats appearing and existing threats evolving. Enterprises now recognize that the role of CISOs is at a turning point, one that should strengthen their ability to repel and withstand such threats.