Enterprises will take up wearables for the internet of things, say researchers

Enterprise information security may need re-evaluating as researchers predict wearables could become an interface to the industrial internet of things (IoT)

Smartwatches and other wearables will find a welcome home in the enterprise, say researchers, underlining the need for businesses to prepare to secure the growing internet of things (IoT).

“We continue to be bullish that ultimately the hype of IoT will be proven to be warranted back on business impact,” said Brian Partridge, research vice-president at 451 Research.

 “By 2019, we expect that machine-to-machine (M2M) and IoT suppliers will find fertile ground in vertical markets, such as retail and government, which will adopt IoT/M2M to enable strategic digitisation strategies such as smart cities and the use of digital signage, mobile point of sale and connected kiosks,” he said.

The researchers predicted mobile IoT and M2M connections will increase nearly fourfold globally from 252 million in 2014 to 908 million in 2019.

They said hardware and bandwidth costs will have dropped to a point where nearly every enterprise can reap the benefits of virtualising the physical world. Cloud-based middleware and data platforms are making it easier to securely generate insights from machine data at greater scale than ever before possible, increasing connections to the IoT. Researchers said discussion around the issue is generating greater overall awareness of the transformational potential of IoT/M2M in competitiveness and support of disruptive business models.

M&A activity spikes as connection volumes grow

According to the latest report from 451 Research, building excitement about what is possible has generated a substantial amount of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in preparation for the next decade of IoT-driven business transformation.

Connected passenger vehicles and connected energy will pace the market in connection volume while emerging systems – such as "pay as you drive" insurance – will grow the fastest, the report said. 

Read more about the internet of things (IoT) and security

Other research by 451 Enterprise Mobility analysts Ryan Martin and Chris Hazelton showed that 39% of US IT decision-makers at companies that use or plan to use wearable technologies will deploy them in the next six months; while 24% plan to deploy in the next 12 months.

In addition, 81% of US IT decision-makers who say their company plans to deploy wearables in the next six months will favour smartwatches.

“The release of Apple Watch has opened the floodgates governing wearable adoption,” said Martin. “But now that the river is running, it’s less about where it will end and more about where – and when – to start. We expect wearable technology to deliver a key interface and input into the industrial IoT.

Limited IoT exposure masks scope for future data breaches

According to Martin, wearables have the potential to become an interface for industrial IoT access.

In May 2015, Beecham Research warned that the IoT industry needed to do more to secure data.

According to Beecham Research technology director Jon Howes, the only reason there have not been any serious IoT breaches already is because the IoT has not yet been deployed in the large-scale consumer or enterprise applications that would make them attractive to attackers.

“Traditional M2M applications are typically very focused, using specific edge devices, a single network and custom platform, making it relatively easy for security professionals to secure to the acceptable level,” he said.

However, Howes said IoT cuts across different sectors and embraces multiple devices and networks – from satellite to cellular – along with a growing number of IoT platforms and big data systems, which present threats on many different levels.

“Wherever there is a new interface between devices, networks, platforms and users, there is the potential for a new weak link,” he said.

Without concerted action now, Howes said he believed the proliferation of different devices, networks, platforms and applications to support the IoT multiplies the vulnerabilities and greatly increases the scope for malicious attacks.


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