Its that time of year the obligatory look back on the past year and look forward to the New Year. But the Internet of Things is moving so fast that a years worth of reflection seems like an eternity and predicting what will happen next can be foolhardy. 2015 made a splash in the consumer world with IoT wearables becoming the trendy new tech toy, and the Apple Watch proved naysayers wrong by becoming a topwearable connected device immediately upon launch. On the B2B side, companies large and small realized that now really is the time to connect machines and analyze Big Data if they want to gain a competitive edge.
Summing up the past year is a little easier than forecasting 2016, but both share common themes. Weve probably hit peak wearables, making fitness trackers common for those with disposable income and remote health monitoring devices a viable tool for doctors and patients. Likewise, new automobiles are just expected to include Internet-connected features for entertainment, mapping, safety, and diagnostics, either in-dash or via the drivers smartphone. Home automation for heating/cooling systems, lighting, etc. will become easier to use and prices will go down, spurring wider adoption as more consumers see the energy-saving and convenience values. In the same vein, green building controls will advance to higherlevels of sophistication, thanks to IoT technology, so businesses can lower operating costs.
Security and Regulations for the Internet of Things in 2016
One particularly interesting issue to watch for in 2016 is how lawmakers will try to regulate the Internet of Things industry for security problems. After a much-hyped test of hacking into a connected car in June 2015, some US lawmakers introduced the SPY CAR Act in Congress that would require isolation of critical software systems, penetration testing, data protection, and privacy standards. The bill is currently sitting with the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for review. Even before this event, the US Department ofTransportation has been working on legal guidelines for connected and automated cars (such as Googles self-driving vehicles), and details may be published soon. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says, "weexpect the proposed rule on vehicle-to-vehicle technologies to come out before the end of this administration."
Connected cars arent the only security issue for the Internet of Things. Policymakers are considering Internet of Things backdoor legislation, especially in Europe. The fear is that hackers could gain access to personal data or even control a connected device via the Internet. Some legislators want businesses to design their software with encryption and other security controls in an attempt to account for these "backdoors." Despite disagreement in the tech world about the effectiveness of such measures, legal proposals continue to pop up.
In December 2015, the European Union Council of Ministers reached a provisional agreement on a set of cybersecurity rules. The legislation would require companies in critical service sectors such as energy, transport, banking, financial markets, health, and water supplies to secure their systems and report security breaches to public authorities. Also, online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay and search engines like Google would be required to secure their infrastructures.
Similarly, the November 2015 draft of the UKs Investigatory Powers Bill could require companies to create backdoors into any IoT-enabled device when served a warrant by the government. This far-reaching bill, if approved, could affect anything that connects and communicates via the Internet.
At this time,America appears conflicted aboutsuch sweeping measures. In a December 2015 address to the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI Director James Comey stated that the US government is not mandating backdoors into IoT systems, but expects that, "if a judge issues an order, the company figures out how to supply that information to a judge and figures out on its own how to do that."
How will this turnout in the New Year? Only time will tell. But it pays for enterprises to be aware of pending security legislation in the US and Europe. Also its a best practice to build security into IoT devices and applications with an eye towards the future. You might consider downloading our Securing the Internet of Things whitepaper, which is a practical guide to reviewing security risks and management during the design of the devices, the transport of data, and across the overall IoT application.