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Three Major Challenges Facing IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) — a universe of connected things providing key physical data and further processing of that data in the cloud to deliver business insights— presents a huge opportunity for many players in all businesses and industries .

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Many companies are organizing themselves to focus on IoT and the connectivity of their future products and services. For the IoT industry to thrive there are three categories of challenges to overcome and this is true for any new trend in technology not only IoT: technology, business and society [1, 2, 3].

Technology

This part is covering all technologies needed to make IoT systems function smoothly as a standalone solution or part of existing systems and that’s not an easy mission, there are many technological challenges, including Security, Connectivity, Compatibility & Longevity, Standards and Intelligent Analysis & Actions [4].

Figure 1: Technological Challenges

Security: IoT has already turned into a serious security concern that has drawn the attention of prominent tech firms and government agencies across the world. The hacking of baby monitors, smart fridges, thermostats, drug infusion pumps, cameras and even the radio in your car are signifying a security nightmare being caused by the future of IoT. So many new nodes being added to networks and the internet will provide malicious actors with innumerable attack vectors and possibilities to carry out their evil deeds, especially since a considerable number of them suffer from security holes.

The more important shift in security will come from the fact that IoT will become more ingrained in our lives. Concerns will no longer be limited to the protection of sensitive information and assets. Our very lives and health can become the target of IoT hack attacks [1].

There are many reasons behind the state of insecurity in IoT. Some of it has to do with the industry being in its “gold rush” state, where every vendor is hastily seeking to dish out the next innovative connected gadget before competitors do. Under such circumstances, functionality becomes the main focus and security takes a back seat.

Connectivity: Connecting so many devices will be one of the biggest challenges of the future of IoT, and it will defy the very structure of current communication models and the underlying technologies [2]. At present we rely on the centralized, server/client paradigm to authenticate, authorize and connect different nodes in a network.

This model is sufficient for current IoT ecosystems, where tens, hundreds or even thousands of devices are involved. But when networks grow to join billions and hundreds of billions of devices, centralized systems will turn into a bottleneck. Such systems will require huge investments and spending in maintaining cloud servers that can handle such large amounts of information exchange, and entire systems can go down if the server becomes unavailable.

The future of IoT will very much have to depend on decentralizing IoT networks. Part of it can become possible by moving some of the tasks to the edge, such as using fog computing models where smart devices such as IoT hubs take charge of mission-critical operations and cloud servers take on data gathering and analytical responsibilities [5].

Other solutions involve the use of peer-to-peer communications, where devices identify and authenticate each other directly and exchange information without the involvement of a broker. Networks will be created in meshes with no single point of failure. This model will have its own set of challenges, especially from a security perspective, but these challenges can be met with some of the emerging IoT technologies such as Blockchain [6].

Compatibility and Longevity: IoT is growing in many different directions, with many different technologies competing to become the standard. This will cause difficulties and require the deployment of extra hardware and software when connecting devices.

Other compatibility issues stem from non-unified cloud services, lack of standardized M2M protocols and diversities in firmware and operating systems among IoT devices.

Some of these technologies will eventually become obsolete in the next few years, effectively rendering the devices implementing them useless. This is especially important, since in contrast to generic computing devices which have a lifespan of a few years, IoT appliances (such as smart fridges or TVs) tend to remain in service for much longer, and should be able to function even if their manufacturer goes out of service….

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