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Editor, IFSEC Global

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Adam Bannister was Editor of IFSEC Global from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam is also a former Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
January 12, 2017

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The Video Surveillance Report 2022

IoT trends

Internet of things bubble will burst in 2017, predicts Wired Magazine

Wired magazine has prophesied the demise of the internet of things (IoT) in 2017.

As predictions go it’s pretty bold given sales of internet-connected devices already number 12 billion worldwide and are projected to grow to about 30 billion by 2020.

On the face of it, the tech bible has really stuck its neck out on this one.

Except Wired hasn’t actually forecast the demise of internet-connected devices per se; rather, it’s the IoT term itself it believes is on borrowed time, along with an assumption associated with it: that no object, however mundane, cannot be improved with a computer chip.

“The Internet of Things was a made-up term to begin with,” says the article in question. “And now this bit of marketing nonsense carries a sheen of ineptitude, danger, and other shit. “The upshot: the term will die in 2017, kinda like Big Data before it.”

Visitors to CES 2017 in Las Vegas test out some VR headsets

Visitors to CES 2017 in Las Vegas test out some VR headsets

The success of a Twitter account called the Internet of Shit, which tweets disparagingly about the myriad IoT devices being launched to more than 100,000 followers, augurs ill for the IoT, says Wired.

To test out just how widely the IoT concept was being applied to everyday ‘things’, I drew up a list of the most mundane objects I could think of and Googled them with the prefix ‘smart’. Of the seven I Googled, four had already been ‘enhanced’ with a computer chip and Wi-Fi connection (in the IoT camp: toilet roll holder, duvet cover, cushion and mirror; still stuck in the analogue age are sofas, breadbins and shoehorns).

The other problem – and one exacerbated by the sheer volume and range of IoT products – is the cyber threat.

If the media has played its part in hyping up the IoT, then it will also play a key role in facilitating its decline thanks to the slew of stories about the security risks posed by ‘connecting’ your home.

Long focusing their fire on corporations – albeit it’s consumer data that is usually stolen – tech writers and security experts are now warning of a frightening new spectre: that criminals will turn their attention to smart homes that lack the enterprise-grade security enjoyed by Fortune 500 companies (which is still shown to be lacking in so many cases).

Wired noted that in September, nearly 1.5 million IoT devices (mostly surveillance cameras) were hijacked and that the following month, the same piece of malware rendered large swaths of the internet inaccessible to many people.

The IoT has also been damaged by “bricked devices, irritating outages, bankrupt startups, an international emissions testing scandal, and a viral story about a Brit who spent 11 hours trying make tea with a needlessly high-tech kettle.”

Aware of this perception the IoT industry has been scrambling to remedy vulnerabilities such as the widespread use of default usernames and passwords that hackers can easily find by trawling Google.

At CES 2017 Symantec Norton unveiled what it claims is the most secure router in the world and is certainly one of the most aesthetically interesting. A geodesic orb, it looks like it could be an object of portentous power in a sci-fi fantasy film.

Symantec Norton's Core Router

Symantec Norton’s Core Router

Securifi, meanwhile, launched a mobile app that highlights vulnerabilities like easy to guess passwords or open ports and shows users how to remedy them.

The next-generation of Bitdefender BOX was launched in Las Vegas too. Bitdefender’s IoT security hardware protects against malware, hackers, ransomware, phishing and other online threats with data anonymization, malware scanning, machine-learning algorithms and network intrusion prevention technology.

Clearly, the IoT has been on the well-worn path followed by so many tech crazes. First, there’s a lot of hype, but also considerable teething troubles where products malfunction or work less effectively than promised. Developers don’t yet know what customers want from the tech, so there’s a lot of trial and error and dud technology (that people later mock with the benefit of hindsight).

Eventually, issues around usability and compatibility and cyber security will be remedied to a large degree and a clearer picture will emerge of what the IoT – or whatever it is called by that time – is for and what kinds of ‘things’  can really benefit from internet connectivity.

As Wired writes: “The Internet of Things—or whatever you want to call it—has the potential to save precious resources, spot and fight pollution, and help people lead healthier, safer lives. But adding internet remote control to every single product on the market won’t necessarily help us get there. What we need are thoughtful, affordable, durable devices that actually, y’know, make our lives better. A new name, and a renewed sense of purpose, could be just what the Internet of Things needs.”

Click here to read the original feature in Wired, which also makes another four tech predictions for 2017.



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