2017 is finally gone and while it was a tumultuous year on trends political and international fronts, it was an exciting year for technology. Of all the technologies that made waves this year, one that garnered a good chunk of limelight was the Internet of Things, or IoT.Trends

 

Gartner predicts that there will be nearly 20 billion devices connected to the IoT by 2020 and that IoT product and service suppliers will amount to a business of $300 billion in revenue. So here are the top 5 IoT trends that will define the future of IoT in 2018.

1. Smart Home Devices Will Soar In Popularity

Even those who dismissed smart home technology as unrealistic playthings for lazy youngsters are increasingly finding it hard to resist the charms of IoT powered smart home devices. These devices will become hugely popular in 2018 as they become highly intuitive and innovative, extending to not just home automation comfort but also home security and the safety of your family. Dryers that warn you when the lint build up goes too high can prevent a fire. That is the kind of smart home functionality that will see huge adoption in 2018.

Another big driver of the IoT smart home adoption is the need for energy saving. Smart thermostats and smart lighting help conserve energy and keep the bills down, which will be another big reason more and more people turn to IoT powered devices in 2018.

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2. Edge Computing Will Take Prominence Over Cloud Computing

This will be one change to watch out for. For a long time now, IoT devices have relied on the cloud for storing their data. However, IoT developers and manufacturers are now beginning to realize the usefulness of storing, computing and analyzing the data on the edge.

Basically, this means that instead of sending all the data from the IoT device to the cloud, the data is first transferred to a local device situated closer to the IoT device or on the edge of the network. This local storage device can sort, filter and compute the data and then send all or just a portion of the data to the cloud, reducing the traffic to the network.

Known as “edge computing”, this approach has several advantages. First of all, it helps better manage the vast amount of data each device sends out. Lower dependence on the cloud helps applications perform faster and reduce latency. By being able to gather and process data locally, the IoT application consumes less bandwidth and works even when the connectivity to cloud is affected. Owing to these upsides, edge computing will see innovation and wide adoption in both consumer and industrial IoT. Lesser involvement of the cloud facilitates better security practices and reduces connectivity costs. 2018 will see increased use of edge computing in IoT.

3. Healthcare Will See Increased IoT Adoption

One of the most important applications of IoT is definitely in the field of healthcare, and the coming year will see healthcare truly embrace the prowess of IoT. According to data from Frost and Sullivan, the internet of medical things could be expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 26.2% and reach $72 billion by 2021. Devices like sensors, wearable devices, medical equipment, health monitors and a gamut of other medical devices is set to be connected with IoT. From healthcare providers to the general population, everyone is more tech-savvy than before and this is set to increase IoT adoption in the medical world for good. Mobile health applications and virtual assistants to monitor patient health at home, smart wearables and implants that communicate patient parameters, smart cars that monitor patient vitals in transit and a host of other smart connected devices are set to reshape the medical world.

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4. IoT Security Will Be a Bigger Priority

As adoption increases, more and more devices get connected to the Internet of Things. The network expands, volumes of data increase and more information is at risk. Increased use of IoT must be accompanied by increased impetus of IoT security. With vital data floating about in the cloud, health of patients and safety of homes is at risk and IoT will have to be more secure than ever.

As of now, not all IoT devices come equipped with the kind of security features laptops and PCs are equipped with. In the coming year, that will have to change. Machine-to-machine authentication will get layered, biometric logins will become the norm and AI, machine learning and big data techniques will be used to identify and thwart data breaches.

Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report April 2017 identified weak passwords as the main reason behind IoT malware. Most IoT device manufacturers ship the device with a default password and don’t give the customers an option to change the password. This fuels the highest number of DDoS and other attacks. 2018 will see both manufacturers as well as consumers getting more aware about their IoT security.

5. AI and Big Data

With billions of consumer and industrial devices being connected to IoT and transmitting data, the amount of data than needs to be processed and analyzed will grow exponentially. The idea is not just to gather data but to extract actionable insights from this data and that will need some serious big data techniques and artificial engineering to process all that data.

A convergence of AI, IoT and Big Data will give rise to a wave of next-gen applications and advancements. In fact, it may be difficult to look at either of these in isolation anymore.

Security We live in a world governed by connectivity. In many ways, it’s taking over our lives and we need to be prepared to embrace both the benefits and the dangers. For many of us, the word “Trojan” conjures images of the infamous battle whereby the Greeks stormed through the independent city of Troy. Yet in recent years, this word has come to take on a new meaning – ringing alarm bells to those of us that are tech savvy.

Security

In the same way that the Trojan horse became associated with danger during the Greek mythology days, at the beginning of the late 20th century, the word Trojan was applied to describe deceptively benign computer codes that seem legitimate – but are in fact, malware.

To this day, malware Trojans remain widespread. However, today’s internet users have the benefit of understanding these dangers and what can be done to avoid potential hazards. Yet, when it comes to connected devices, the same cannot be said. We are still surprised by hacks – because we aren’t prepared. This is why we refer to the Internet of Things (IoT) as the Trojan horse of our time. So – why aren’t IoT devices safer, and how can we rectify this?

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IoT and security: the challenge

We need to work to ensure IoT is safer, however, there are reasons that this is currently not the case.

1. Security is not part of the design process

Let’s think of why we buy IoT devices. It’s not because it is a comprehensively well-thought-out piece of technology, but because it amazes us with its futuristic features. The intelligent refrigerator or the IoT lamp do not reinvent the refrigerator or the lamp but enhance their abilities by making them smarter. This does not of course mean the same for industrial solutions, but many parallels can be drawn. User studies, as part of the design process, will always come to the conclusion that IoT is a new, fascinating market and the typical IoT users of the first hour seek novelty or usefulness over security.

2. Security would increase the price

IoT devices became attractive to the mass market. The average cost of IoT sensors is falling and by 2020 it is estimated to be about $0.38 (£0.28). Even manufacturers of specialised Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) equipment are in fierce competition with one another. Spending a lot of money on the development of better security features does not make sense for manufacturers. The industry wants to achieve favourable prices through mass purchasing.

3. Security isn’t the number one priority

It all comes down to a two-way attitude from users and manufacturers. We need to be talking about IoT security more – but, given its damaging to a business to slow down market growth, we don’t take the time to speak about it enough.

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IoT and security: the solution

IoT devices cannot be completely monitored. Even if the devices have been specifically deployed by a company’s IT department, traditional corporate security measures do not work. IoT devices can only be controlled to a limited extent by the IT team because they operate beyond their own closed systems. This means that to improve security, we need to consider three things that can help give us “peace of mind”.

1. Importance

We need to pay more attention to data. To secure our data, we don’t need to back up an entire IoT device. Instead, we need to look at the cloud to secure data from IoT devices. However, keep in mind that as soon as a mobile IoT device contains sensitive data, it will be a target to hackers. Not only this, but if an IoT system is managed by a central administration portal which is deactivated, it will no longer report on attacks to individual devices.

2. Trusted storage

IoT devices are predominantly mobile. The difficulty here lies in averting any malicious applications from them. One way to prevent this is by storing the device ID in a trusted area. This means you can decide who does and does not have access to communicate to the device – for example, by using biometric identifiers.

3. Look for radiation effects

Monitoring, no matter how sophisticated, cannot directly detect whether an IoT device has become the gateway to certain attacks. However, radiation effects can be identified. Via the network distributor, a monitoring tool can recognise when an unusually high amount of data traffic occurs. It can also be detected via pattern recognition if unusual traffic takes place in the network. A warning would then be sent to the system admin and the discovery of the device in question should proceed quite quickly.

We may still be at the beginning of IoT security, and we may still have a long way to go. But, if one thing is for sure, it’s that we need to be prepared or risk turning myth into reality as these Trojan horses attack.