It’s not just our PCs, Mobiles, and tablets that interface with the Internet. An ever-growing network of things is also coming online: locks, refrigerators, TVs, fitness apps, and more. The Internet of Things is composed of all of these gadgets. How did the Internet of Things come into being and what does it consist of? Avast explains it to you.
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Core Concepts: Internet Of Things
What makes an article fall into the field of the Internet of Things? Any gadget or device with an on / off switch that can be associated with the Internet can turn into a connected device. Most connected devices have some kind of sensor that allows them to monitor various conditions. IoT devices can also communicate with each other, in the same way, that computers and phones can send and receive information without human intervention.
The meaning of the Internet of Things additionally includes the massive network that connects devices, people, and even animals through the cloud.
Today, companies are competing to add more sensors possible to connect appliances of all kinds (from toasters to toilet paper holders through the wine bottles ). It is therefore normal to see more and more of them on the shelves of department stores or online.
Apart from home applications, progressed Internet of Things technology deploys a wide variety of trade and industrial applications, which we will discuss later. First of all, to fully understand the Internet of Things, you have to understand its history.
History Of Connected Objects
The history of the Internet of Things begins in 1982 with the very first connected device: a vending machine for drinks. The capabilities of this smart machine allowed it to control and report on its inventory (its inventors could check online if their favorite drink was in stock and even if it was fresh enough).
The smart vending machine was not successful, but it did hint at a future where connected devices would be used on a large scale in the industrial sector, with sensors allowing them to monitor every aspect of the supply chain and delivery processes.
It wasn’t until 1999 that the term “Internet of Things” was coined by technology pioneer Kevin Ashton. That same year, the book When Things Start to Think, by MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld, was published, explaining the concept of the Internet of Things and considering its future role, but without using the term.
Other technological advances have propelled us into the world of connected objects that we know today.
RFID (radio identification) is a tagging system that tracks and categorizes items or devices. Traditionally, this system has been used in the logistics industry (via chips) to perform certain tasks such as tracking containers as they ship around the world or controlling the passage of parts through a production line. Large-scale tracking and control of devices, rooms, or things ultimately laid the foundation for the Internet of Things. Ashton coined the term Internet of Things when he was working in the RFID field.
Leveraging RFID in combination with the Internet, machine-to-machine ( M2M ) technology allows machines to connect and communicate with each other over a network, and make decisions without having human intervention is necessary.
Various other wireless technologies, coupled with the spread of high-speed Internet and ever-cheaper manufacturing costs, have made it simpler to execute the Internet of Things.
Despite their humble beginnings, connected technologies are well on their way to revolutionizing society in ways we can’t even imagine.
How Does The Internet Of Things Work?
The Internet of Things, let’s remember, is made up of ordinary devices that can connect to the Internet and communicate with each other through the cloud. Usually, therefore, it is necessary to add special sensors to ordinary objects like washing machines, radiators, watches, and almost anything else.
Some devices use these sensors to collect and relay information. The very first connected device discussed above, a vending machine, used sensors to control its inventory and relay that information to its owner.
Other devices can receive information and then take an action. For example, smart door locks receive a signal that you want to open them and then perform the operation.
The most sophisticated (and usually the most useful) connected devices can do both. In the context of connected objects in an industrial environment, this may for example involve monitoring machine parts in search of possible malfunctions, which triggers an alarm when a problem is detected. In the home setting, on the other hand, it could be your smart thermostat, which collects information about your temperature preferences and habits, then acts accordingly to heat or cool your home to the desired temperature depending on the temperature. time of day.
In general, intelligent technology contributes to the better functioning of objects, gaining efficiency and synchronization.
Most connected home gadgets connect to a smart home, broadly defined, through your router, allowing you to control many functions of your home via voice commands or your smartphone to save time, money, and money. energy or even both.
On the business side, connected technology helps companies monitor and manage their factories, supply chains, and more. Sensors can also be added to some large-scale machines, such as rigs on an oil rig, to improve production and safety.
How Do IoT Devices Connect?
Thanks to the Internet of Things, web-enabled devices connect and use the data they exchange. The devices communicate through the cloud and connect to the Internet through a Wi-Fi network, a cellular connection (3G or 4G), or Bluetooth.
Very soon, 5G will take us straight into the future: a future made up of driverless cars, fully connected cities, remote surgeries, and technological miracles that today seem to us to have come straight out of a movie. science fiction.
What is the Internet of Things? Imagine a smart home like a spider. The router is its body and each leg represents a connected device. The spider weaves its web to connect, communicate and collaborate with other spiders. At the rate that connected objects are multiplying, we will soon be living in a somewhat sinister world, covered in cobwebs and populated by arachnids.
If you are afraid of spiders, you might feel more secure imagining a cute, fluffy cloud that connects to all of your devices.
How Important Is The Internet Of Things Today?
According to IBM, a typical family home will have around 500 Internet-connected devices by 2022. One home! Globally, previous estimates put the number of associated devices at 38.5 billion in 2020. According to a more recent analysis by Juniper Research, the number of IoT sensors and devices will exceed 50 billion by 2022. If we compare these projections to the forecasts which predict a world population of 8 billion inhabitants, it becomes easier to perceive the immensity of the IoT network.
In reality, it is very difficult to accurately estimate the dimensions of the IoT platform as it is growing every day. Soon, it will become very difficult to obtain products not connected. New companies are inventing and producing new connected products every day (which consumers buy and connect to): The growth of the IoT network seems to know no bounds, as does its development over the next decades.
Some Examples Of Connected Devices
How many smart devices do you have? If you’re like most of us, you probably have more than one.
You must have at least a computer, a phone, and maybe a tablet.
What about household appliances? You might have a smart TV, speaker system, coffee maker, or lock system. A smart home system perhaps, to control everything? Amazon Echo and Google Home devices connect all of your smart home devices.
Or maybe you have portable connected technology? From smartwatches to Bluetooth headphones to smart shoes, there are plenty of IoT devices that you can wear right on your body. Soon, the Internet of Things could even penetrate r inside the human body, using intelligent medical devices like pacemakers for example.
Depending on where you work, you may need to interact with connected products and/or services at your workplace. Your office may have installed a security system with connected sensors that control employee entry and exit, or other smart technology applications.
The Internet of Things is now all around us and it will only gain in importance as technology continues to advance.
The Advantages Of The Internet Of Things
Why do we need the Internet of Things? First of all, because it’s cool to be surrounded by smart, shiny devices. Secondly, because the Internet of Things brings its share of advantages for individuals and professionals alike.
First of all, smart sensors in your devices can improve their performance and efficiency. For example, lighting or a smart thermostat can turn off automatically when you are away from home, reducing consumption and therefore costs. When all your devices are linked together in a smart home, you collect data about your habits and usage. Sometimes even just having statistics on your consumption can be revealing and tell you about possible changes you can make to save time and/or money.
Besides, the Internet of Things can include security applications. Smart locks, alarms, and CCTV systems can secure our homes, while commercial security systems can enhance workplace safety.
The future holds very large-scale connected applications in store for us, such as smart cities. As we said before, 5G will make a difference, not least because of its exceptionally high throughput and incomparably better connectivity.
Just imagine some of its infinite possibilities: what if, for example, street lighting were equipped with sensors capable of interpreting weather conditions and adapting to them accordingly? Or if speed limit signs could automatically adapt to traffic conditions or signal a possible accident? Or what if dumpsters had sensors that could handle waste faster and more efficiently? Public transport, parking lots, and many other urban services could be given a facelift thanks to the marriage of IoT and 5G.
The Internet of Things could also prove to be extremely beneficial for monitoring and responding to environmental conditions. Activities such as detection of forest fires, crop evolution (e.g. monitoring soil conditions to control the grape flavor, and therefore wine quality, for example), and emission control to reduce air pollution could become considerably more efficient.
The possibilities are limitless. As far as our life and our work, in general, are concerned, we are far from imagining the immense revolution which is brewing.
But the Internet of Things isn’t all about joy and happiness.
Security And Privacy Implications
While it’s true that connected devices can improve lives in many ways, they can also pose a threat.
The weakest link in your security can turn everything upside down. You’ve probably thought about protecting your computer and your iPhone (or Android device ) by equipping them with antivirus software, but what about your smart fridge? It only takes one of your connected devices that are insecure for hackers to gain a gateway to your entire network. For example, Avast researchers were able to hack into a smart coffee maker, showing that malicious people can infiltrate unsecured smart devices, both to gain access to your network and to launch a ransomware attack on you. Smart devices can also be intercepted by hackers to join their army of botnets.
Unfortunately, any device that might connect is vulnerable to a malware attack.
Not only are computers, phones, and tablets more secure than other devices because you’re probably using an antivirus, but they also receive regular updates. Oftentimes, these updates fix security vulnerabilities and resolve other issues. When it comes to connected gadgets, companies don’t always keep track of updates regularly.
Think about it: we tend to keep the same household appliances between five and ten years (e.g. refrigerator, toaster, dishwasher …). Will, that same toaster, for example, be systematically updated for 10 years by the company that sold it to me? What will happen if they are busy crafting other items? What if they cease their activities? All companies have only one thing in mind: to bring the revolutionary product to market, safety being only the least of their concerns. It is therefore up to you to do what is necessary to ensure the security of your devices.
Unfortunately, the more devices we use, the greater the risk.
On the confidentiality side, connected devices also navigate troubled waters. Just think about everything a fully equipped smart home knows about you:
Smart locks: they know what time you normally come home, who is visiting you, at what time, and for how long
Smart refrigerator: it knows what you eat, at what time, and what is missing in your diet
Smart speakers: they know the weather in your area, what your usual research topics are, what your favorite style of music is, anything you say near the speaker that is likely to be inadvertently recorded
Fitness apps: they know the activities you do, your state of health, your fitness goals, how often and where you exercise, when you go to bed, and when you wake up when you sleep
Yet the Internet of Things poses new security and privacy challenges for businesses. The more connected a company is, the more possibilities it offers for cybercriminals to attack. Organizations need to exercise caution when securing all of their operations and protecting themselves from sabotage, sensitive data disclosure, and other threats.
Put A Lock On Your Front Door
You don’t leave your house without locking the door, do you? Leaving a connected network unprotected is like leaving the door to your home wide open, in terms of the potential loss of personal property and confidential information. Your digital home should be as secure as your home.
Our top security experts have come together to craft a cutting-edge solution that meets just that need: Avast Omni (only available in the US for now).
We’ll help you build a more secure Internet of Things, adding a layer of protection to every connected device in your home network. You’ll have full control over who and what connects to your Wi-Fi network. Our real-time threat detection sends instant alerts when something goes wrong and immediately blocks any intrusion attempts. Our Parental Controls, on the other hand, will help you monitor your children’s activities, so you know their whereabouts at all times and ensure that they are making safe and appropriate use of the Internet.
As we move towards a future of smart cities, connected workplaces, and fully digital homes, security is more essential than ever. Enjoy total security wherever you connect with Avast Omni.