By now, we’ve all heard about the Internet of Things (IoT) via various news articles, social media posts, and maybe even stock analysts. How you define IoT depends upon what you’re doing: for some, it’s self-driving vehicles, sensor networks for monitoring, ‘smart cities’, or walking into an Amazon grocery store and picking up lunch without having to stop at the checkout counter.
With so many people are betting a lot on the future of this technology, you probably don’t realize how much IoT is already a part of your daily life. Wearable devices equipped with sensors that collect biometric data (Orangetheory Fitness, for example), smart home systems that equip users with new ways to control lights and thermostats, those magic wristbands everyone uses at Disneyworld, and the list just goes on. Given how much IoT has already infiltrated daily life, it begs the question: has IoT infiltrated the Network? If not, will it – and if yes, when?
The IoT era is coming (some might say it’s already here); IoT will, without a doubt, make its way to your network. You may already have smart devices connected to the Network, depending upon what type of network you manage:
- If your organization is responsible for moving vehicles, you probably already are managing smart devices. Police cars, buses, delivery vehicles, and the like are, in many ways, like small offices: they are often outfitted with cameras, sensors, phones, printers, tracking devices, and so on.
- Security cameras and devices are employed by a variety of different business types — from colleges to manufacturing facilities to department stores. These cameras need to be connected to the Network and properly secured.
- Hospitals and medical facilities are, more and more, becoming both entwined with and dependant upon the Internet of Things – from managing inventories using connected assets to workflow to smart medical devices that can provide crucial information to patients and medical providers.
Networking all of the different kinds of IoT devices presents a challenge because the communication and connection requirements for IoT-connected devices can vary drastically from what has typically connected to corporate networks. Organizations need to protect their own devices, IoT or not, and they must also defend against threats targeting external devices that might connect to their network.
So…how can organizations today keep up with these changes and know what’s connecting to their network? Although it might seem like an easy solution to say ‘no’ to adding IoT-connected devices, that’s just delaying the inevitable and/or living in denial. While businesses recognize that IoT is critical to success, security bubbled up as the number one issue with over half of study respondents reporting the fear of an external attack being a key barrier to IoT adoption, and 84% reporting that they’d already experienced an IoT-related breach.
With all of these changes — and the addition of all of these new devices and applications — networks need more visibility, not less. How can you get this visibility? Automated network documentation and diagrams can tell you what you have, where it is, and what its connected to — along with vendor information, licenses, certificates, passwords, updates, and so on.
As IoT continues to gain a stronghold, documenting the entire network will only become more crucial in keeping up with devices, changes, troubleshooting, security.