The Internet of Things (abbreviated as: IoT) is what those in the know have come to call the collection of various sensors and cameras and every other sort of device that’s been connected to the internet. These things have been connected so that they can communicate with one another of like kind to coordinate activities as well as send their collected information back to central collection points for status monitoring, analysis and everything’s else one might be able to think of.
There’s tremendous opportunity for good to be done by connecting these devices together and back to central control points— smart power grids that allow for solar and wind power to be dynamically brought on and offline as needed and able is one of the many potential opportunities that gets talked about. Intelligent traffic light switching to manage the delicate balance of public safety with fuel saving and traffic flow is another talked about use for the IoT.
There’s also the potential for an ugly downside. Many of these devices are little more than a sensor, such as a thermometer, hook up to as little as possible (for cost or deployment and operations) to make them able to report their information out over the internet. Security has been a second thought if a thought at all. There’s already been reports of a ‘smart’ refrigerator being hacked to generate and deliver spam. There is the real possibility that an industrious hacker figures a way to take control of every net connected toaster in the country leading to the unending morning drama of burnt toast one day and slightly warm bread the next.
The way most devices that are part of the IOT communicate is by connecting to the Internet. Within most homes today, there are a handful of computers, tablets, and smart phones that have been registered on the network and allowed access to the Internet. In a few years, there could be dozens or hundreds of items per household connected. For hackers, this presents an unprecedented opportunity.