Currently, I do not often communicate with my appliances. I might yell at the television during a close game or mutter about a lack of snacks while rummaging through the refrigerator, but for the most part, my correspondence is human to human.
But that’s changing quickly.
We are entering an era when owners of televisions and refrigerators, luggage and toilets will not only increasingly communicate with those devices, but those devices will increasingly communicate with one another.
The Internet of things—as it is known—is a network of interconnected machines communicating via cyberspace. Ovens telling alarm systems that a fire is imminent. Computer programs alerting alarm clocks about traffic delays. Abandoned suitcases helping their owners find them in crowded airports.
There is the tweeting toaster, which just may have more Twitter followers than you do. And one recent news piece highlighted high-tech Japanese toilets—call them smart loos—that users control via smartphones. These toilets were found to be lacking proper security features, enabling hackers to activate flushing functions with the tap of a few buttons.
While this all may seem light-hearted, this audience of security, audit and assurance professionals is well aware of the serious need for proper information governance. Likewise, you are probably aware that this technological trend will have significant ramifications for our industries.
In the era of the Internet of things, no longer are computers the only computers. Rather, our toilets and toasters, our refrigerators and suitcases are becoming more computerized, more connected each day. This is making them more efficient, for sure, but it is also stretching the security spectrum. Digitized, online devices can/will/are being hacked. And the more connectivity there is among possessions, the more vulnerability there is for the possessor.
In the coming years, this trend will surely raise awareness among the general public about information governance and security and we who are involved in these areas. In the immediate future, ISACA would like to get your perspective—an annual survey sent to all ISACA members will be distributed in a few weeks, and it includes questions about the Internet of things.
Might I suggest telling your toaster to remind your smartphone to alert you when it arrives?
Tony Hayes CGEIT, AFCHSE, CHE, FACS, FCPA, FIIA
International President, ISACA and the IT Governance Institute