The Internet of things promises deeper business insights into customers, but the rapid uptick in IoT adoption is also setting off some alarms.
If there is any remaining doubt that the Internet of things is rapidly moving from hype to reality, a quick glance at several research reports should snap the issue into better focus. Juniper Research points out that retailers seeking to capitalize on the IoT will spend $2.5 billion in hardware and installations costs by 2020, nearly a four-fold increase over today's levels.
The new research, The Internet of Things: Consumer, Industrial & Public Services 2015-2020, found that leading retailers using the IoT to generate an ecosystem are poised to gain market advantage and truly capitalize on the opportunity. Linking RFID tags, beacons and connected consumer electronics, including wearables, with software analytics promises deeper business insights and an enhanced customer experience.
In fact, Jupiter estimates that the number of connected devices will reach 38.5 billion in 2020. Moreover, 70 percent of these units will be composed of non-consumer devices.
Yet, a rapid uptick in IoT adoption is also setting off some alarms. A new study from Accenture, Security Call to Action: Preparing for the Internet of Things, notes that there's growing need to focus on hacking and attacking aimed at industrial control systems (ICS), connected vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and connected retail. The latter scenario revolves around data theft, including customer spending and behavioral patterns, location data and biometric records.
Accenture points out this emerging area requires a greater focus on everything from front-end authentication, including passwords, to device security, encryption, network designs and the data protection tools an enterprise—and even business partners—have in place.
Of course, the IoT spans both the physical and cyber worlds simultaneously—and different industries require entirely different security strategies and methods in order to minimize risks. As a result, Accenture points out that there's also a need for strong governance and data assurance strategies. Finally, more advanced digital identities will be required, the consulting firm said. Industry must move away from hard-coded access keys used today and embrace a model that introduces unique identifiers for people and devices.
Bill Phelps, managing director and global security services lead at Accenture, said "The benefits and innovations associated with the Internet of things are easy to see, but companies need to look closely at the security concerns. New technologies always bring new risks, and every industry needs to be able to protect their network by adapting to the new realities."
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