The Internet of Things (IoT) means everyday objects, such as smart plugs, lightbulbs, locks, coffee machines, and motion sensors can connect to the internet and creating a copious amount of data. This data can be used in ways we could not have imagined even a few years ago. A forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that there will be 41.6 billion connected IoT devices generating 79.4 zettabytes (ZB) of data in 2025. For reference, one zettabyte is equivalent to one billion terabytes, or one trillion gigabytes.
Steve Prentice explained in this week’s Cloud Security Tip “IBM, Forrester, and others have suggested that maybe 1 percent of data generated from IoT connectivity is being used, mostly for immediate learning or predictive activities.” So what exactly is happening to the other 99 percent?
How Businesses Can Utilize Data
It’s easy for organizations to become overwhelmed with their IoT data, but it’s important to not get “analysis paralysis” and do nothing with it. Here are three essential ways every business can utilize their data:
- Improve decision-making: Data doesn’t lie, and will often lead you in the right direction for answering any problem that arises. For instance: Samsung collects usage data from their smart TVs, so they can take the aggregated data from their customers to decide to offer different apps or the best time of day to advertise. The options are endless.
- Understand customers: Trends in the data will help you get into the minds of your customers. For example, Fitbit knows how much we all exercise and what our normal sleeping patterns are — giving them insight into their customer’s habits and learning how to better serve them.
- Improve operations: Proper use of data can help you streamline operations and keep things running smoothly. Here’s an example, Rolls-Royce manufacturing systems are networked in an IoT environment. At their factory in Singapore, they generate half a terabyte of manufacturing data on each individual fan blade they produce. Rolls-Royce will use this data for quality control purposes, an important area for success for any company.
As Steve said in the Cloud Security Tip: “Data always has value, somewhere, somehow.” Data can be of huge value to your business if you use it properly — however, it can also be used against you if you don't secure it properly.
There are three key components to formulating an IoT data security strategy: a distributed strategy, an immutable, and an ephemeral strategy. It’s important to know your data isn’t just lying around, open to the public, so having strategies or systems in place is critical.
An organization can connect all the IT infrastructure (whether distributed, immutable, or ephemeral) pertaining to the IoT solution and IoT devices together into a single network — and this private network allows for secure communications between the deployed IoT devices and the infrastructure that controls or collects data from them.
By utilizing the OpenVPN business VPN, Access Server, as your IoT security solution, you can create your own IoT private network to conduct and establish communications with your IoT devices securely, and you can prevent attacks that seek to alter or eavesdrop on IoT data. This allows you to store and analyze, while also ensuring that only authorized IoT devices can become part of your private network, keeping it protected and secure.