Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Some thought concerning a rapidly emerging internet of things 1: starting a new series

Posted in business and convergent technologies, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on May 22, 2013

I have been writing on an ongoing basis in this blog about what could be called the internet of people, and about using the tools and resources, and the connectivity reach of cyber space for achieving meaningful goals through it. A second separate, parallel if connected network has also begun to take shape as an internet of things.

• And if the number of people – the number of connectable nodes involved in the former is limited as an absolute maximum to the few billion who populate this planet,
• The number of devices and objects – the number of nodes achievable in the later can realistically be expected to expand well into the trillions.

I have at least briefly touched upon the emerging existence of an internet of things a few times in the course of writing this blog, but the first time I explicitly wrote about it was quite recently with a 16th installment to a series on information systems security: Information systems security and the ongoing consequences of always being reactive – 16: the internet of things and the emergence of next generation DDoS attacks.

• I began discussing this emerging reality there and in that context, as it is when a complex and comprehensive system is first being planned out and implemented, that basic systems security and risk management capabilities have to be built into it,
• If basic risk management and related considerations are not built in from the beginning, all subsequent efforts will have to keep addressing them ad hoc and forever.
• I cited in that posting, as a still unfolding historical example, how gaps in basic source identity validation that were overlooked in the early pre-public internet: the original ARPANET still haunt us as root vulnerability causes of much of the malware and black hat hacker activity that we still see today.

So I first formally began addressing the issues of an emerging internet of things, in terms of a need to build this right, and from a solid and well thought out and implemented foundation that is as flexibly and robustly secure from tampering as possible. And at the end of that information systems security posting I said that I would follow it with a series on the internet of things per se, and on what it is and on what it is headed towards becoming. I begin that here.

I defined some key terms in my security series posting that I will be referring to in this series, and begin here by noting two of them (though I strongly recommend reading that posting too.) I divided the emerging internet of things into two basic and fundamentally distinct spheres of activity:

• The Internet 1.0 of Things where more and more items and objects are tagged and in ways that can be connected into the internet and tracked through it. These objects – these nodes in this system are passively connected in so this can also be thought of as the passive internet of things.
• The Internet 2.0 of Things where more and more nodes and types of node are added that do communicatively, 2-directionally interact with the internet and with other nodes, and more actively and even proactively than would be possible with simple ID tagging or other 1.0 activity. This can be thought of as the active internet of things.

I cited barcode tagged and RFID tagged objects as the primary (as of now) sources of passive nodes in this overall system. Active nodes are already much more diverse than that, and even just in the still embryonic stage of development that we are in for this internet of things. I cited as one source of such examples, smart appliances as would be found in an emerging 21st century kitchen. I add here an entirely separate area of examples that, referring back to that security systems posting for its topic area, will become all but ubiquitous and that will become crucially important and even nationally from a security perspective: Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems.

I actually did raise the possibilities there of small, home-SCADA systems for managing the emerging household of tomorrow, but large scale industrial and core infrastructure SCADA systems are going to become progressively more fine-grained networks of active 2.0 nodes in a globally interconnected network of things too.

I am going to start delving into some of the details in all of this in my next series installment, where I will focus on the passive, internet 1.0 of things and how a myriad of objects and items are being connected in, with the implications that this creates. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and its continuation page, and at Social Networking and Business.

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