The Internet of things

What is the “Internet of things”?

There’s a new hype circulating the I.T world and its called the Internet of things or IOT. But what is the internet of things and why the hype? The “internet of things” is a concept where you put a normal device or appliance, usually just a dumb household appliance and place this on the internet for a whole host of reasons such as integrating it with other devices or for home automation purposes. Some of these devices can include, security systems, lights, thermostats, air conditioners, door furniture/ locks and many more.

Some popular examples of IOT at work are:

  • Using motion detectors in a room to turn lights on and off.
  • Using your smart phone to monitor Security cameras.
  • You can interact with your house hold devices directly from your smart phone. You can even utilise the built in GPS in your phone to sense when you are within 500m of your house to turn on your porch light.
  • Predictive maintenance. By introducing sensors in your car, you can be notified when certain parts are up for a service or need attention.
  • Automated inventory management. Heineken are now using IOT sensors to automatically notify staff and vendors when stock levels are getting low.

The introduction of IOT devices at home has proven to make life easier so it makes sense that these same technologies are making their way into the business world. With IOT devices touching the corporate network there are increased security threats that need to be addressed. It is up to the systems admins out there to manage these devices and security threats.

Things we need to consider when connecting IOT devices to your network.

Firstly consider placing these devices either in a DMZ or on a seperate VLAN to your DHCP and/or corporate network. This includes devices that your are connecting via WiFi. Cisco Meraki is a great tool to allow you to segment this particular WiFi network from the corporate network.

Secondly, all devices will usually connect to and are managed by a cloud based service and this will require a login account. I would recommend using either an external web mail account that is not part of the domain or just choose one email address that can be used for all of your IOT accounts and also where possible try and use 2 factor authentication.

Lastly, you will have to think about the infrastructure that is in place to cater for these devices. If you start implementing hundreds of these devices on your network and you do not have the IP address scheme to cater for this then you may want to start thinking about using an IPV6 address scheme dedicated for these devices.

The power of IOT allows you to do some serious automation and where there is automation you will often find cost and time savings to your organisation and employees. The “Internet of things” industry is growing at a rapid rate. New products connected to the internet every day. This is one cog in the next technology revolution that everyone will need to get involved in.

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