As Cyber Attacks Grow in Volume and Intensity, The Long Term Viability of an Internet of Things Should be Reconsidered

Small to Medium Sized Businesses (SMBs) in the U.S. are starting to directly feel the pain of the increased daily volume of cyber attacks, not to mention the malicious intent of the payloads they often include. Whether this pain amounts to persistent, annoying junk email, or the mess resulting from a mistaken click on a link in one of these junk email messages, or worse, the end result is the same — SMBs are growing more aware of the risks inherent to what this writer refers to as our consumerized, mono protocol data communications world.

Anyone with an interest in the Internet of Things marketing communications theme, which has been echoed by a number of participants, from Cisco, to Microsoft and beyond, should take note of what impact, if any, a more skeptical SMB market will have on the success of this effort. Perhaps it is worth taking a sentence or two to explain why the Internet of Things is actually little more than a marketing communications theme.

“Things” have been connected for data communications purposes long before the Internet became the average consumer’s notion of data communications between computing devices over a wide area network. Whether the protocol was one of the buses (MODBUS, PROFIBUS, FIELDBUS, etc), or a serial, RS-232 hardwire connection between a computer running a Human Machine Interface (HMI) application and a remote process, or just a sensor, smart machines have been connected to computers since the mid 1970s.

With many protocols in use for data communications the threat of malicious individuals manipulating data communications sessions was generally limited to someone physically rearranging some wires on a Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) peg board.

So the Internet of Things, for anyone familiar with industrial automation, and process control, is little more than simply a marketing theme promoted by some of the “also ran” players who did not participate in the birth of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining, SCADA, etc.

But what makes this trendy image particularly scary, and what, in this writer’s opinion may amount to a strangely disinterested market should this cycle of hacking go on and accelerate further, is the reluctance of the businesses with a commitment to it to look into diversifying the number of data communications protocols in use, so as to patch the near defenselessness represented by data communications over TCP/IP and web pages called the Internet.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

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