Ok, everyone has heard about The Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data. So, that on its own is not much of a prediction. But this prediction is about IoT and you.

The Internet of Things is making a fast and furious race to your risk and security programs (in both positive and negative ways), and you will either embrace and manage it or be managed by it. But you ain’t gonna avoid it.

First, let’s take a high-level glance of what IoT is and implies. Just about everything is being embedded with sensors that collect data. Lots of data. And the data is sent from all these sensors to a computer (typically in a server farm or cloud) where it is aggregated (thus big data), analyzed (run through algorithms) and returned into understandable information that enables better decisions, faster.

The IoT is everywhere in our daily lives. Sensors are in thermostats, smartphones, sneakers, roadways and thus, are playing a bigger and growing role in risk and security management. Subscriptions for travel support, security technology management and social media tracking leverage IoT, big data, analytics and cloud computing to give you transparency into the activities and events taking place across your enterprise, including events you would otherwise not know about.

So, IoT can help your organization move from reactive to predictive by harvesting information and directing your attention to anomalies that you would otherwise not know to look at. That’s a real positive to your risk management program. For example, tracking social media posts that mention your company, address or products will alert you to potential disruptions to your business. Organizers of the recent protests in U.S. cities use social media so protesters know where to gather. That same information allows you to provide travel support by rerouting stakeholders from congested areas.

Second is the negative side of “what if we don’t?” IoT means security is out of excuses. “We weren’t aware of that” will soon be unacceptable and bring with it increased liability. Security technology infrastructure can be observed from the cloud and notifications of access control or video system failures sent immediately to a technician. You may no longer be able to wait for that broken video recorder or access control device to be stumbled upon. Learning your CEO was stuck in protester-generated traffic is no longer just bad luck.

IoT is like joining a gym with both the health benefits of doing so while preventing the health risks of not exercising. IoT will be both compel you to leverage Big Data because of its benefits, while not doing so will increase risks. IoT is not a security leadership decision. It is happening at your enterprise and will come through both IT and building automation. You are trapped in the middle of those converging technologies. The best option is to join the IoT gym first, put a good strategy together and embrace the new world. 

Third, why not fight fire with fire? The criminal element is already using IoT effectively. Once you are on the 'Net, you are vulnerable to intrusion, and there have been many media stories about criminals hijacking webcams and baby monitors. Your transparent view needs to be securely crafted or it gives others a view, as well. And as Bob Liscouski wrote in the Surveillance Strategies column: Waze, the traffic app includes police traffic and speeding traps in its service. Criminals can tip the scales in their favor by using this information to evade detection and arrest.

There will be more than 20 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2018, and we will all be leaving multiple digital trails. How security ethically and strategically leverages this massive information resource is to be determined. While it may be easy to predict that IoT is the one big thing to focus on in 2015, it is impossible to know its true impact.   


My first column in the July 2006 issue of Securitymagazine was titled, “Change is Good, Unless it is Happening to You.”  One decade and 120 Trends columns later, you have taught me that change, indeed, is good. It is time to tackle new opportunities, and this is my final column in Security. Sincere thanks to the great folks at BNP Media, our readers, our advertisers and many partners who have been so generous and gracious with their time, energy and ideas that contributed to our success.