Larger companies have begun incorporating devices with embedded wireless, Internet-connected sensors into everything from utilities and shop-floor equipment to inventory and the surrounding environment. And the larger the corporation, the greater the benefit. Companies can mine data gathered from these devices and use it to improve efficiency, customer and employee experiences, and health and safety.
According to research firm IHS Markit, the IoT market will grow from 15.4 billion devices in 2015 to 30.7 billion devices in 2020 and more than 75 billion in 2025. And businesses are clearly on board. A recent Vodafone survey found that more than three-quarters of companies believe that taking advantage of IoT is crucial for their future success and that nearly half of companies surveyed plan to increase their use of IoT over the next two years.
Virtually every sector can benefit from sensor-based devices. In the manufacturing arena, for example, IoT can help monitor everything that happens on the factory floor and in the shipping process, helping reduce errors and getting products to market more quickly. Retailers are using sensors in stores to monitor product activity, create a more visible supply chain and improve customer experiences. Transportation and logistics companies use sensors to boost efficiency, while health-care organizations embed them in medical devices to improve their services. Other industries embracing IoT include automotive, aerospace and defense, media and entertainment, power and utilities, hospitality and leisure, and financial services.
Yet despite the clear benefits that IoT provides, security issues loom large. That’s because every Internet-connected sensor is a potential attack point for a hacker. According to a report from McKinsey, today’s corporate networks may have millions or tens of millions of endpoints due to connected devices. In addition, the attack surface stretches beyond the data center onto the shop floor, vehicles and wherever else sensors are embedded.
While all companies should be concerned about the security implications of IoT, multinational corporations have more reasons for worry, because some countries don’t monitor or regulate the types of connected devices or how data can be collected from them. Without these standards in place, it’s much easier for hackers to steal sensitive information, disrupt information flow among connected devices and even damage critical infrastructure.
These concerns have been preoccupying business continuity managers, who must take the time to understand the technology and the potential security breaches that can occur. The first step is keeping a rolling inventory of all IoT sensors deployed throughout an organization. With that information, the business continuity manager, in concert with the IT department, can make sure to implement the right controls and apply patches when required.
It’s also important to develop policies around the specifications IoT devices should have and how they are deployed throughout the organization. Finally, business continuity managers who work for multinational companies should also keep pace with regulatory changes impacting IoT devices.
When it comes to the Internet of things, experts believe we are just on the cusp of some truly great advancements in business. As companies add more and more of these smart, connected devices, they gain more data to make intelligent decisions and the capability to innovate even more. By addressing the corresponding security issues front and center, organizations will be well positioned to reap these benefits.
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