In 2007 we were hearing the first stirs of a “new” type of computing called “Cloud Computing”. At the time it involved taking the computing platforms, application programs, and networking services that had traditionally been located within a Local Area Network (LAN) and relocating them wholly or in parts to a distant location outside of the confines of the LAN.
Now, nearly 10 years later we are hearing a great deal about another huge idea, IoT, The Internet of Things. Much like the 2007 Cloud stirrings and rumblings, the term IoT currently remains somewhat vague and not particularly descriptive of the “things” it contains. However, it has become associated with baby monitors, fitness trackers, and home security systems, to name a few. These and a myriad of real-time information collecting systems are rapidly providing us virtual connections to such “things” and the Internet is providing the communication channels for us.
The point is not to try to explain either in too much detail. After all, those first glimpses of the Cloud have morphed into Google Drive, DropBox, iCloud, and other “Uppernet” data storage systems. They also have provided the means for large enterprises to modernize, reduce expenses, and improve efficiency by decentralizing their infrastructures. So now when we talk and write about the Cloud most informed Internet users understand that “it” exists somewhere else – rather than on their own phone or computers – and that most users probably had no early understanding about the amounts of data that they would be storing or what might happen to it in the future.
Rather I want to suggest that the social, technical, financial, and to some extent political forces at work have enabled these vague concepts to take form as the emerging landscape of our Global Information world. These technologies and interconnected systems have begun to squeeze out many of the legacy communications platforms like newspaper, broadcasting, “pots” telephones, “snail mail”, and pose new challenges to our traditional notions of privacy, freedom, and security both in public and in private.
Social media interaction (or, perhaps the lack of real face to face interaction) has been one result of cloud computing. The coming of age of new media giants like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsUp and others has been fostered by the technologies built into the cloud. The reduction of costs brought on by cloud efficiency within the exploding connectivity market now make cloud services the de-facto standard for modern media implementation. Digital content delivery courses these same data pipes and the cloud is a significant part of their backbone as well.
The technical advances of the past ten years in mobile wireless and the globalization of content delivery systems, especially in the third world, has transformed the cloud into the “backend” storage and computing systems for global connectivity in commerce, entertainment, geopolitics, and, yes, for cyber crime as well.
IoT is the next logical extension of the traditional information and control systems that have been physical (rather than digital) and have depended on proximity to work. By that I mean that you had to “be there” to read them. The home heating/cooling system thermostat, treadmill and excercise cycle, and even your home security system are all examples of traditional “controls”. Even the security system had depended upon a wired connection to a “pots” telephone line to report and intrusion to a “switchboard” were a live person acknowledged the alarm and dialed the police. Now, IoT devices collect the “data”, send it wirelessly, and trigger automated systems to complete the dispatch of assistance. The largest difference is that the components now depend upon the Internet backbone and mobile devices (like the smartphone) to deliver the relevant information – a reading, report, summary, image, video, or other important stuff.
One of the more important limitations of IoT today is security. Instances of hacking and cybercrime that utilized unprotected IoT components have compromised Cloud computing systems because the IoT devices sending data were not secure, nor had their makers considered the implications of their openness to compromise.
And now my shameless marketing: SafeJunction technologies like SafeShare have been designed to protect IoT devices of all kinds and their Cloud back ends from security and privacy compromise. For more information please contact SafeJunction.