by Ishan Bhattacharya

Why IoT still remains trapped in its hype cycle as we hop on to 2016

Jan 27, 2016
Big DataBusinessConstruction and Engineering Industry

Two major issues that IoT will face in 2016 and beyond, especially in India, are that with growing data flows challenges pertaining to security and more importantly privacy will emerge.

Generating data which can be used to create value for customers and employees is what enterprises are looking for right now and IoT happens to be a key player in this area. Having said that, with IoT surfaces the need to have systems which can efficiently shoulder mammoth volumes of data which will be generated once IoT implementation goes up. IoT might bring about challenges, especially pertaining to storage which IT departments and the government has never seen before.

According to one of the biggest networking company, the internet of things will generate a staggering 400 zettabytes (ZB) of data a year by 2018.

Ravi Ramakrishnan, global IT head and CIO of Uflex Film Division says that with IoT we are talking of daily volumes of continuous data collection and storage by trillions of objects, which actually happens to be more than what the total human population so far has not managed to generate in over fifty years of computing history.

It will be wrong to say that Indian IT leaders are shying away from IoT owing to security and privacy issues.

“Our storage devices have evolved from meagre MB to now PB but still is insufficient for the data flood IoT will bring in. Our big data computer servers and technical architectures are yet to see and face this challenge since current data generation even of emails is human driven and hence has a calculable limit but a machine sensor working systematically will without failing to generate data happens to be a scenario we are yet to witness,” Ramakrishnan says.

With growing data flows emerges challenges pertaining to security and more importantly privacy. In a recent news report European motoring organizations warned car drivers that car manufacturers can get access to so much data that the very concept of having a private car over public transport might just vanish.

When it comes to the manufacturing vertical, especially automobile a lot of concerns regarding data privacy are being raised across the globe. For instance according to a study conducted by German motorists organization ADAC for European lobby group FIA Region 1, found that in addition to trip and distance data, one recent car having IoT capabilities has been reporting things like maximum engine revolutions, the status of vehicle lights and more to its manufacturer.

The same news report highlights that FIA wants car manufacturers to come clean themselves, without waiting to be unmasked and that the organization asked them to publish an easily understandable list for each model of all the data collected, processed, stored and transmitted externally.

“As we give our controls to machines and machine to machine interaction becomes primary with human beings relegated to secondary citizens of the World Wide Web, we have not yet thought of the emotional disturbances which will come in between humans, as in a hypothetical case, our car becomes the first witness against us in an accident,” Ramakrishnan added.

Love IoT? Marry Security first

Security standards needs to be raised to a whole new level as IoT, when it starts picking up, will promote more machine to machine communication in such a way that human intervention might just not be needed.

“IoT, whilst promising significant value, will certainly bring in a slew of challenges and one of the main areas that business and IT leaders should be worried about is next-gen security. Security is that one key aspect that, if left unattended, could pose serious threat to business operations. It is therefore critical, that the implementation of IoT modules is thought out to the minutest thread and security aspects are well thought out and addressed proactively,” says Shalil Gupta, associate VP, insights and consulting, IDC India.

Another area which needs to be alert with regards to security is public sector. Considering government as a vertical which will perhaps be one of the largest implementers of IoT, more so because of growing talks about building smart cities, the amount of data it will gather about citizens is actually kind of scary. They will know everything from what you watch to which restaurants you visit on weekends.

Shekhar Sanyal, Country Head and Director, The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), India, believes that more than security it will be privacy which will be a bigger challenge, as to what data does an individual or an organization can share to get the impact of what one wants versus the pros and cons of sharing the data and the benefit that will be derive.

“This will become as new challenge, especially for the government. The amount of personal data that the government will have is going to be enormous and also there is a perception that the government is not careful with data. While we have the technology to secure data, it is the perception that the government might not be careful with the data that needs to be addressed,” Sanyal says.

Issues concerning privacy will be massive as and when IoT adoption shoots up in enterprises and governments all over the globe, hence a need surfaces to develop some strong best practices to address this.

Sanyal adds that when it comes to forming a boundary around IoT, so as to keep it in check, he frankly feels that nobody, neither India nor other countries, is anywhere. “There are talks going on but nothing concrete. I feel as we go forward there will be a definition of private and public data. In the future what is going to happen is there will be parts of your life which will be considered as public data and can be shared with anybody,” he says.

It will be wrong to say that Indian IT leaders are shying away from IoT owing to security and privacy issues, but yes they are definitely more concerned about the far reaching repercussions of this disruptive technology going wrong. 

“With regards to IoT, cost is not a deterrent and mindset is also open given the kind of potential it has. But yes, security is a major concern as we let inanimate objects drive our life the way we have never done before in our civilization history. Forget physical bombing and assault, the easiest way to cyber terrorism and unprecedented damages will be through the weakest link in the IoT chain which may be a sensor or a network,” Ramakrishnan adds.