There’s a new hype circulating the I.T world and it’s 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 Internet of Things (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 Internet of Things (IOT) sensors to automatically notify staff and vendors when stock levels are getting low.
- Health and fittness wearables monitor heart rate, caloric intake, sleep, track activity, and many other metrics to help us stay healthy. In some cases, such wearables can communicate with third-party apps and share information about the user’s chronic conditions with a healthcare provider.
- Freight, fleet management, and shipping represent another promising area of use for IoT. With smart BLE tags attached to the parcels and items being transported, you can track their location, speed, and even transportation or storage conditions.
- IoT can be used to improve the quality of urban life and the experience of its city dwellers. Increasingly, smart cities across the world use IoT to resolve issues with traffic and transportation, energy and waste management, etc.
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 Internet of Things 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 separate VLAN to your DHCP and/or corporate network. This includes devices that you are connecting to 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 webmail 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 to 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 for 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.