In recent years the use of the term the Internet of Things, often abbreviated to IoT, has rapidly increased and entered the everyday lexicon. But what does it actually mean? The Internet of Things refers to the connection of new technological devices to the internet – this can be anything from fridges to dog collars – and allows these devices to talk to each other and anything that has access. Business Insider recently reported that its experts expect there to be 24 billion devices part of the Internet of Things by 2020.

How Does the Internet of Things Work?

The IoT works by linking any device that can be assigned an IP address – this can even include a heart monitor surgically implanted into a patient – allowing them to transfer data over a network. With the advent of wireless capabilities, this kind of technology was born and has boomed in popularity over the years. The term was first used in 1999 by Kevin Ashton in a presentation he made to Procter and Gamble and has been used much more prevalently in recent years. The big names involved in this industry, that you’ve more than likely heard of, who are working to expand this type of technology are Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Fitbit.

Is the Internet of Things Secure?

While the IoT has brought about amazing advancements in technology and provides huge potential for the future, it can also bring about a number of security concerns. With both personal data and IP addresses being stored on the connected devices, there is a big issue with cybersecurity. A prime example of this is the 2013 security hack on the retailer Target which led to 40 million accounts being compromised. This attack occurred when the cybercriminals got access to the point-of-sale system for over 2000 stores and all of this was possible because the criminals got access to the internet-connected heating and ventilation system. However, with developments in technology, security with these kinds of systems has greatly improved. In fact, with use of The Cloud – where your databases, software, and processes are hosted in a location separate from the businesses using it – security has increased. Security expert Andre Pienaar, owner of C5 Security, states in a recent interview, “[your data] is much more secure on the cloud platform, in terms of our cybersecurity.” (See the full interview here).

How is My Data Managed on the Internet of Things?

As a consumer of technology which incorporates the power of the IoT, it is important to read privacy policies as provided by the businesses you are working with. The use of your data will be more tightly regulated with the introduction of GDPR, but it is useful to read through privacy policies just so you are on top of what data on you is being collected, where it is being stored and for which purposes. Security with the IoT can be incredibly strong, but it is best to ensure any company you buy from is keeping on top of this before handing over sensitive data.

The Internet of Things is not only incredibly useful and powerful but growing massively every day as large companies like Amazon and Google invest more time and money into working on it. It has the power to not only take us into the future but to make our lives easier – but just always ensure you know who you are handing your data over to and what they intend to do with it.