The internet landscape is burgeoning. It’s not just about computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones anymore. Now a multitude of devices are internet-connected. The list of “smart” devices includes washing machines, robotic vacuum cleaners, door locks, toys, and toasters. The Internet of Things is the umbrella term — and, yes, you can now buy a smart umbrella — for anything that connects to the internet.
What is the Internet of Things, or IoT?
The Internet of Things — IoT, for short — is made up of devices that connect to the internet and share data with each other. IoT devices include not only computers, laptops and smartphones, but also objects that have been equipped with chips to gather and communicate data over a network.
The range of existing and potential Internet of Things devices is enormous. Consumers often use their smartphones to communicate with IoT devices, whether it’s a smart speaker or home thermostat. Connected devices offer convenience, like helping you make a grocery list, or savings, like when you turn down the heat at home while you’re on vacation. By 2025, it is estimated that there will be more than 41.6 billion IoT devices
The Future of IoT
- Artificial intelligence will continue to become a bigger thing. Smart home hubs, thermostats, lighting systems, and even coffee makers collect data on your habits and patterns of usage. When you set up voice-controlled devices, you allow them to record what you say to them and store those recordings in the cloud. In most cases, the data is collected to help facilitate what is called machine learning.
- 5G Networks will continue to fuel IoT growth. Major wireless carriers will continue to roll out 5G networks. 5G — fifth-generation cellular wireless — promises greater speed and the ability to connect more smart devices at the same time. In time, more 5G IoT devices will connect directly to the 5G network than via a Wi-Fi router. This trend will make those devices more vulnerable to direct attack. For home users, it will become more difficult to monitor all IoT devices, because they will bypass a central router.
- Cars will get even smarter. The arrival of 5G will shift the auto industry into a higher gear. The development of driverless cars — as well as the connected vehicles already on the road — will benefit from data moving faster. You might not think of your car as an Internet of Things device. But new cars will increasingly analyze your data and connect with other IoT devices — including other high-tech vehicles on four wheels.
- Security and privacy concerns will drive legislation and regulatory activity. The increase in IoT devices is just one reason security and privacy concerns are rising. In mid-2018, the European Union implemented the General Data Protection Regulation. GDPR has led to similar security and privacy initiatives in several nations around the world. In the United States, California recently passed a tougher privacy law. What does this mean for you? Such efforts could give you more control over your data.
- Cybercriminals will continue to use IoT devices to facilitate attacks. In 2016, the world was introduced to the first “Internet of Things” malware — a strain of malicious software that can infect connected devices such as DVRs, security cameras, and more. The Mirai malware accessed the devices using default passwords and usernames. As the number of smart devices rises, so do the number of ways that a criminal could attempt to steal information, including email phishing attacks, smishing (text message phishing attack), as well as vishing (phone call phishing attack).