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Recently published research suggests enterprise IT departments are ill-equipped to manage Internet of Things devices, applications and platforms

Recently published research suggests enterprise IT departments are ill-equipped to manage Internet of Things devices, applications and platforms

Recently published research suggests that while many businesses believe the benefits gained from using Internet of Things sensors, platforms and applications in the workplace far outweigh the associated risks, IT departments find themselves ill-equipped to address those potential risks.

Research carried out by ISACA, a global association of IT security, assurance, risk and governance professionals suggests the level of appeal of wearables and IoT sensors is far from clear. About 50 per cent of over 1,600 EMEA-based IT professionals surveyed by the association believe the benefits of IoT far outweigh the costs; but nearly a third (30 per cent) believe the risks.

Just over half of respondents believe the biggest challenge regarding IoT is increased security threats, while a quarter (26 per cent) are concerned about data privacy issues. Two-thirds (68 per cent) admit they are very concerned about the decreasing level of personal privacy that would result from rolling out wearables and IoT platforms in the workplace.

More than a quarter of respondents said the general public’s biggest concerns about connected devices should be that they don’t know how the information collected on the devices will be used or who has access to the information collected.

‘The Internet of Things is here to stay, and following the holidays, we are likely to see a surge in wearable devices in the workplace,” said Ramsés Gallego, international vice president of ISACA and security strategist and evangelist with Dell Software. “These devices can deliver great value, but they can also bring great risk.”

Gallego explained that while these devices and platforms hold promise, about a fifth of IT pros surveyed believe their organisations don’t have the analytics or skills capabilities to either make good use of the data generated from these devices, or manage the risks associated with these technologies.

“Companies are seeing the benefits of these technologies but also the challenges that represent for the privacy, assurance, risk management and cybersecurity dimensions, With these new technologies and tools at the forefront of business innovation, companies must begin an ‘embrace and educate’  and ‘adapt and adopt’ approach with connected devices and big data,” he said.

Technology limitations exist too

Standards are also a challenge in this space, with a range of semi-open platforms being developed by small pockets of vendors, but without a clear view of one harmonised standard to cover all of the device and protocol specific-adapters that need to link up with middleware – which provides the message/protocol transformation, routing, service virtualisation, and orchestration capabilities, and enables usage monitoring and management.

While IoT is still fairly nascent in most verticals, early adopters like those in energy and utilities (i.e. for smart metering or remote monitoring of grid elements) and healthcare (i.e. for remote patient monitoring) have found a growing need to bridge the gap between M2M and enterprise integration disciplines, which could drive wider adoption according to Saurabh Sharma, a senior software and infrastructure solutions analyst at Ovum.

“Enterprises will continue to use a combination of existing middleware and emerging M2M integration approaches for meeting the requirements of specific IoT use cases. However, a lack of common vendor and platform-agnostic connectivity standards will hinder wider IoT adoption, especially from the perspective of enterprise IoT initiatives of reasonable scale,” he explained.

He said there is an increasing realisation that traditional communication protocols are not appropriate for a “cyber-physical” world, and the lack of M2M communications standards suitable for a range of scenarios “further aggravates the situation.”

“The main issue is that, more often than not, a specific combination of existing middleware and M2M integration solutions can meet only the requirements of specific IoT use cases. This in itself might require custom interfaces and/or the use of proprietary standards…and that’s why a “somewhat” standard IoT middleware stack remains  a work in progress.”