The internet of things (IoT) is a very recent concept, and not once controlled under the original definition of networking. The internet is the broad term given to a series of computers and servers across the globe sharing information over the World Wide Web. The deep web and the dark web are internets in themselves, and are not searchable under normal internet search engines. The internet of things however, is the collection of all devices on a specific network.
As you undoubtedly know, there can be hundreds on thousands of devices attached to a single network at once. Train stations, stadiums, conferences, large businesses, shopping centres, all have networks with an enormous number of internet enabled devices attached to them. This in itself is a form of intranet, but if this network is in some way attached to the outside world, then this becomes a separate internet; the internet of things.
In an average house at any one point there might be a dozen devices connected to the router, and through that, the internet. Smartphones are almost always on Wi-Fi, smart TV’s, tablets, computers, laptops, and even recently smart watches. This network of small devices makes up a local IoT. Most of the time, users won’t be sharing data from one device to another like this, but the network persists anyway.
The importance of the IoT is huge for legitimate purposes, and illegitimate alike. IoT devices can help large organizations such as Google and Apple map networks, and give targeted advertising and advice as a result. Most like these features, but the ones who don’t like it are well within their rights. This kind of invasion of privacy is not something everyone is comfortable with, and unfortunately the settings cannot always be disabled. This security flaw was noted in mainstream media with the CIA Day Zero hacks, where it was revealed that many IoT enabled devices such as TVs and Radios were implanted with a form of spyware, monitoring without reason or permission.
One of the very recent popular ways to utilize IoT enabled devices is for mining of cryptocurrency. Many servers inject small lines of code in order to use devices as part of a mining network, without the users’ permission. This has been seen everywhere in recent weeks, from airports to NFL games, and is always found out eventually. There is no evidence that the organizations are responsible for this injection, and it is more likely a malicious user who set it up.
The major benefit to IoT enabling is that of convenience. Most people love to have their device do things for them automatically, like telling them the nearby traffic signals, or to actively monitor the temperature of a room. The IoT ties in with smart houses and devices so heavily that it is difficult to separate the terms. The IoT is seen everywhere today, and has taken hold in supermarkets for many years already. Self-service checkouts which are updated with real time price changes are common in most supermarkets throughout the UK. Even the portable barcode scanners offered to customers at larger chains are involved in the IoT. The internet of things is becoming synonymous with the internet, and it is the natural progression of technology today. Most, if not all, modern devices come with some kind of internet access, and with them all being linked up naturally, it only makes sense that people can utilize them for distributed processing. The IoT is already being utilized by universities to run complex simulations overnight by volunteer student-devices; it makes perfect sense to use the power we have.