We sat down with technology futurist Angela Orebaugh recently to chat about emerging Internet of Things (IoT) trends. In 2011, Angela was named Booz Allen Hamilton’s first Cybersecurity Fellow, a position reserved for the firm’s most notable experts in their field. She is known for her work on National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) security initiatives, teaches an Internet of Things security class at the University of Virginia, and is the author of several books on cybersecurity. We’re delighted to feature Angela on our blog! ~Dave McKinney
Q: What does the role of an IoT futurist entail?
A: I’m researching emerging trends, identifying potential security risks, and developing guidance on adopting new technologies. For example, in the Internet of Things (IoT) space, many clients have yet to see the cybersecurity effects of smart devices in the enterprise. Clients also have legacy systems that they’re considering making cyber-enabled for features like remote accessibility. In both these examples—smart devices, legacy systems—I’m proactively looking at the cybersecurity implications across the entire IoT ecosystem.
Q: What are the trends you see coming for IoT technology in the next 6, 12, 18 months?
A: Within the next six months, I see accelerated adoption of consumer IoT products; especially as new interface devices like the Apple Watch are released. We’re also seeing new smart devices in the consumer space being developed. (Intel’s MICA smart bracelet, Sprinkles’ Cupcake ATM, and Stephen Hawking’s Intel IoT-connected wheelchair are a few great examples.) As we see continued consumer adoption of smart devices, we will also see continued security issues since security is not built in all new smart devices.
We need to have new advances in hardware design and data protection to make sure that the devices themselves, the physical components that they interact with, and the data that they’re collecting, storing, and transmitting are protected. A simple starting point would be for product developers to enable security features on devices. There are a lot of startups out there with a lot of really great technologies. But they need to be implementing even the most basic of security controls such as passwords and encryption on their products.
Over the next 12-18 months, I think we’ll see more legacy systems being cyber-enabled. Systems such as HVAC (heating, venting, and A/C systems) that used to be standalone and include many sensor devices, or control a lot of physical components, will become cyber-enabled over the next 12-18 months.
Q: What are you most looking forward to for the future of IoT?
A: What I’m looking forward to most is all the efficiencies and the positive impact that IoT can have on areas like energy and the environment. There will be a lot of exciting changes we’ll see around smart cities, for example. As they evolve, we’ll also see many longstanding problems in the areas of transportation, first responders, and utilities, addressed. Those areas in particular will benefit from the efficiencies of IoT. That’s really what I’m most excited about.
Q: How can we better secure the IoT for scalable growth?
A: We need new security models to protect the entire IoT ecosystem. Smart devices don’t have built-in firewalls, anti-virus software, or intrusion detection systems—things that we have on our servers and our desktops. They just don’t have the processing capacity to handle that type of overhead.
I think use cases and reference models will also help to move interoperability forward. We need standard security models and guidance that can help across the whole lifecycle of IoT from design and build to implementation and operation.
One organization that’s doing a great job in this area is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). They are proactively working to address these areas with standards, models, and guidance.
Q: How do you think IoT will change different verticals?
A: I think they’re going to benefit from the increased efficiency and the new opportunities to address a variety of problems. So, let’s think of an example. Transportation is implementing IoT solutions to solve parking and commute problems. I think that has a lot of reciprocal effects. We’re saving people’s time, we’re saving costs in terms of gas, but we’re also saving on CO2 emissions for people who may be circling looking for parking spots.
The verticals are also going to see a lot of new security challenges that they may not have encountered before. If they have legacy systems that have always been standalone and are now becoming cyber-enabled, they’re opening up their doors to a whole new world of cybersecurity challenges. In that case, they need to be sure that they’re not putting security on the back burner, and they especially need to make sure that they have the necessary staff to identify and address the security issues before they really become problems.
At this stage of the game, end users have a lot of power and they need to make their voices heard by demanding that security features are included in smart products. They need to let vendors know that they’re not going to purchase their products without security features and data protection built in. Now, more than ever, end users have a lot of power and voice in shaping how IoT grows.
To stay up-to-date with Intel IoT developments, keep your eyes on this blog, our website, and on Facebook and Twitter. Follow our ongoing conversation with Angela Orebaugh at @angelaorebaugh and @IntelIoT.