The advent of the ubiquitous wireless device is here, and proof is in the numbers. According to an article by Cisco’s Chief Futurist Dave Evans, it is noted that there are 1.84 “Connected Devices” per person in the world today with that number projected to rise significantly in years to come. According to Evans, the ratio of connected devices per person will reach nearly 6.58 before the end of the next decade.
What will this great spike in the number of devices come from? The answer is somewhat speculative but a safe bet is on a dramatic increase in M2M devices. M2M in the wireless industry represents a massive opportunity, and for the purposes of this article, let’s assume we are talking wireless M2M.
If I look at my own family’s device use, we have a single home (wired) computer, and an average of two wireless devices per adult on top of that. We probably spend as much time (daily) on our wireless devices as we do on our home and work computers. As Evans indicates there is explosive growth to come, ostensibly in the dramatic increase in M2M.
While Evans cites many positive contributions associated with the dramatic rise in the number of connected devices, he is also careful to mention that more work will be needed, “especially in the areas of security, privacy, architecture, and communications”.
The security concept should be focused upon, as all of our personal and business data flow across a global, connected stratosphere. In my own personal life, I had the dubious distinction of having my PayPal account hacked. To combat that misfortune, PayPal issued me a security key-card that I keep in my wallet, and use every time I access my account. I also have a similar (two-factor authentication) security feature built into my Gmail account. Since I use the public domain (Internet) to connect to my personal information, I trust that the companies I transact business with will have security measures in place to protect my personal data. But I also rely on the added security of strong authentication for my email and online financial transactions. I don’t feel any less secure connecting to trusted sites via my Smartphone, but I’ve put in place the controls to ally my fears.
How does this all translate to M2M in the business setting? In my own work, our company builds wireless security equipment that help engineers connect to network devices. The Out-of-Band Management devices are engineered to provide baked in security, not relying on the network to provide strong authentication or encryption.
The possibilities for applications of M2M devices are astounding. Network cost savings, increased flexibility and more convenience are sure to follow. We do however need to be very mindful of data protection. Companies work tirelessly to lockdown wired networks and regulators have put in place a myriad of standards to ensure information is safe.
As increasing amounts of data are moved from the wired environment to wireless networks, it will become critical for institutions to further secure their M2M assets.