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The Internet of Things brings far-reaching security threats

Kenneth Corbin | Aug. 11, 2014
Bringing new devices online at home and in the enterprise raises a host of security concerns that will require a more hands-on CIO and an organisational rethinking.

Internet of Things Poised to Change (and Challenge) Healthcare, Retail
One of the most enticing applications of a network of far-flung sensors can be found in healthcare, where an entire industry is taking shape to build devices and applications with which patients can engage to monitor glucose levels, blood pressure or heart health, or perform any number of other diagnostic procedures and then relay the information back to a care provider.

"That's a much better set of data in which to diagnose and manage diseases," says Michael Chui, a partner and senior fellow at the McKinsey Global Institute.

Chui acknowledges a host of unknowns, security and otherwise, which arise with bringing physical objects online. Who is named in the lawsuit when two driverless cars are involved in an accident, he wonders.

At least in part, however, he suggests that some challenges, and solutions, could be found in a rethinking of organizations and their traditional roles and processes.

In a retail environment, for instance, the CIO's involvement in store operations might be limited to the cash registers, point-of-sale systems and back-office operations. In a world where mobile payments are a reality and items on the shelf are expected to interact with shoppers' devices, though, the tech team must take a more hands-on role.

"If that's the case, then the people managing IT actually have to touch the merchandise in a way that the store manager never would have wanted before," says Chui, who earlier in his career served as a municipal CIO. Likewise, in the military, he asks: "Does the CIO of the Army have to touch the tanks?"

"It's a tremendous number of organizational challenges when you start integrating the physical world with the virtual world, Chui adds. "You have to change the way you make decisions if you're going to use the Internet of things effectively."


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