The Internet of Things marketplace is growing exponentially with new connected devices. There are now Internet connected lightbulbs, garage doors, and refrigerators available for sale. Who knows, perhaps even an Internet connected can opener could be next. The companion can opener app would allow the owner to check on it, via smart phone, from anywhere in the world! It could even have a warning system that could be pushed to the phone to alert the user whenever the can opening blade begins to dull. It seems about as good of an idea as an interconnected crock pot (yes there is actually one for sale), and it seems like a good way to put old 486 machines and 56 K modems back to work – since can openers don’t require fast processing speed or bandwidth.
While some Internet of Things devices actually make sense, in general the IOT is approaching a point beyond stupid on the “dumb-ass” number line. Worse yet, many of these are running in low level assembly code and have little to no security against hackers using their Internet connection as a point to repetitively ping Websites or DNS servers in Distributed Denial Of Service attracts, (DDOS). This is what happened a few weeks ago when hackers brought the Internet to a crawl. I am a proponent of teaching coding to children in school as both a way to focus the thought process and instill analytical thinking, as well as train for high-tech employment; along with teaching coding, I feel that ethics and social responsibility should be added to the curriculum. I taught high school kids for 6 years and found that some lacked basic empathy. I use to incorporate values and empathy into many of my discussions, but with standardized programs and testing the way it is today in education, I wonder if teachers are able to bring it into their coursework.
Inga Beale the CEO of Lloyds mentioned in her blog of Nov 25 2016 that their research has showed that out of 350 European business leaders surveyed, 90% of those involved in retail mentioned that they have had a data breach within the past 5 years, and up to “96% of healthcare and medical businesses” experienced hacking. Her conclusions include having businesses establish cyber risk strategies, and of course buy appropriate insurance policies to cover damages. While I agree with her as far as her suggestions go, the coding ethics education and teaching students empathy as I have suggested will help, along with additional coursework in cyber security. But I submit to you that the main driver of freeing the Internet of some of this soon to be IOT train wreck, is for government to mandate that security be in place on Internet connected devices. I understand that this is a sticky subject, but the Internet has evolved into a valuable global resource. Just as nations are beginning to take climate change seriously and are adopting the Paris accords, there must be a worldwide agreement on Internet security. The days of hit-or-miss telegraphs spread across the Wild West in the cowboy days in America were replaced with an orderly communications system, and as much as individuals dislike regulation, security protocols must be mandated for Internet connected devices. This is most needed to start immediately with the IOT, or heaven knows what havoc that Internet connected can opener may be capable of producing.