Implementing IoT

May 2, 2023

Implementing IoT

It’s common knowledge that Implementing IoT (Internet of Things) is underway in every aspect of our lives.   However, below the surface of the cool new technology, there are many questions that must be answered to implement a secure IoT application in the commercial sector.

Iot Header

Let’s begin with a rather clear definition of IoT that we found 1st on Oracle’s website. “The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects—“things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet. These devices range from ordinary household objects to sophisticated industrial tools.”

Ordinary household objects that can employ IoT include a home thermostat, doorbell, garage door,  lamps and lights, nightscaping, and security cameras.  Most of us already have one or more of these IoT items in our own homes.

The Origins of IoT

In 1991 John Romkey and Simon Hackett created the Internet Toaster. The Internet toaster was a big milestone because Romkey and Hackett proved they could turn it on and off remotely via the internet.

Ten years later there were 10 Billion IoT devices worldwide.  And it is predicted that by 2030 there will be 25-30 Billion connected devices (or more) depending on whose prediction you consider to be most accurate.

GLobal IOT Market Forecast

Commercial & Industrial Applications

Common business and industrial IoT applications include  building management,  facility management, and  physical security of company assets and/or personnel.   These are traditional applications that gain vast efficiencies by employing IoT.  However, the nature of these applications  require that serious efforts are made to make certain the IoT connectivity is protected from unauthorized access.   

At NTI, we most often work as part of an architect’s design team to design the technology infrastructure for commercial and industrial markets. As a project’s technology consultant, we are designing, documenting and confirming the implementation of an IT cabling infrastructure that guarantees as much as possible that the wireless connectivity is robust enough to handle exponential growth.   Our cabling infrastructure designs will allow the various required unique IoT related hardware and software components to interact with each other effectively to address a particular application.  NTI will coordinate with these specialists who are implementing software to help secure the overall network, as necessary.

Risk Assessment

If someone were to hack your Ring doorbell, they could see what is happening outside of your front door, so a package delivered by UPS might get stolen.  Other than the lost package, your general risk would be low. But if you had IoT  locks on your front door, your risk level rises, since a hacker could  potentially gain entry.   When considering IoT at home, each of us must  determine the level of risk versus convenience we are willing to implement.

For business and industrial  applications, the risk must also be assessed if even one mission critical application will be using IoT.  Companies have engaged application specialists to select and install  software and hardware including password protection  long before IoT became a household term.   IoT applications raise the bar for security, requiring that all network hardware and software are protected from remote access by unauthorized individuals.  Larger companies may have human resources to address many of these issues but most companies will contract out  cyber security expertise to verify the network of hardware and software is as secure as possible.

IOT implementation
Man touching IOT

Unauthorized Access

Unauthorized access can be achieved by skilled hackers (bad actors) at multiple points in the system.  Enter the cyber security specialist.   Cyber security specialists can help avoid issues such as:  

Hardware -  An IoT device may have a single privilege level.  That can be an issue because a single privilege level can fail against one or more vulnerabilities. If  the compromised device is connected to the Internet, it may be exposed to unauthorized  access.

Software -  IoT devices may ship with up-to-date cyber security software without any known vulnerabilities, but  they must also have updated functionality to patch any vulnerabilities that become known after the deployment of the device.  Delays in patching vulnerabilities can be costly.  For example: the malware Linux.Darlloz was first discovered late 2013 and worked by exploiting a bug reported and fixed more than a year earlier.

Human Error - We are not all cyber security experts and we are all regularly targeted by phishing schemes.   Even the best of us can be caught off guard by an “adversary-in-the-middle” phishing attack.  This is when a bad actor intercepts and modifies communications between two parties, typically a user and a website or service, to steal sensitive or financial information, such as login credentials and credit card data.

Keeping up with Technology Advances

IoT is the latest technological advance to burst onto the scene and explode into universal acceptance.  In the 21st century alone, the cellular phone, WiFi and digital AV all preceded IoT as the new (technology) kid on the block that went from introduction to widely accepted in less than a decade.  

Since 1998, NTI has been continuously learning about emerging technologies.  We evaluate their impact, and educate our clients on those that may be game-changing technologies before they are widely accepted.  We begin our designs 2-5 years ahead of opening day for a project, so recognizing the changes that are already underway is an important part of NTI’s thought leadership.

Project Manager typing up narrative for client

Some of the best known names in technology provide solutions for IoT, each of which rely on a well designed IT cabling infrastructure - names like Microsoft, Cisco, and  IBM.  Given the common uses of IoT in business, getting the installed wireless environment capable of supporting a 24/7 application (i.e. remote security) with as little unscheduled down time as possible is critical.  And designing commercial  IT cabling  infrastructures  is NTI’s expertise.

NTI’s consultants have been thought leaders in the field of low voltage design for the last 25 years.  We have consulted on budgets, designed and documented the IT cabling infrastructure and selected technology systems, managed the procurement process, and overseen the implementation of systems in our scope to verify our design intent.   We  also work with those who install the hardware and software to assure our design meets the needs of all who rely on the IT cabling infrastructure.

NTI projects are led by our principals who manage a team of project managers, subject matter experts and Revit/AutoCAD drafting specialists.   As thought leaders, we are each students of our industry, working together with the objective of providing a best in class design on time, each and every time.

If you are interested in more information, please visit our website or contact us at 470-531-2100.

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