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Security and Insecurity in the Internet of Everything

October 9, 2013 at 1:22 pm PST

The Internet of Everything is a big thing, and it’s going to get bigger. As more devices, sensors, gadgets, and people get interconnected, you’ll hear more and more about it. But there’s one aspect of the Internet of Everything that I don’t hear a lot about.

That aspect is security, both in the form of actual security and the sense of security.

Let’s go back to the mid-1980s, when I got my start with computers. You could finally buy one and make it useful at home without being a programmer or a soldering wiz. Pre-packaged software was available to do all sorts of useful things, but the thing that stood out for me was financial software. You know, Sylvia Porter, Multiplan, or whatever worked with your brand of computer. (I was a weird kid; I even did mock tax returns in middle school civics class for extra credit.)

But there were a lot of people who would not think of doing their finances on their home computer, for fear of being hacked or having their identity and their money stolen electronically.

Now anyone who’s had a credit card replaced because their account information was compromised will know this is a valid concern, at times. But some of these folks using Quicken on their monochrome Macintosh 512 without any connection to the outside world were convinced that hackers would get in, perhaps through the power line (way before powerline Ethernet adapters).

It took the personal financial software industry (and the PC industry as a whole) a while to overcome the fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) surrounding their products, to the point where people were comfortable storing their personal/sensitive information on a personal computer, connected or not. Fast forward to today when, according to Pew Research, over half of us bank online and about a third bank on our mobile phones.

mobile phone

As more people start to see what the Internet of Everything is about, they’re going to be excited, and eager to get involved. But they’re also going to have concerns and fears about all of this interconnectedness, and what it means for their privacy and security.

You’re not going to want hackers to make your fridge shut down, for example. But we shouldn’t cry over spoilt milk that isn’t necessarily going to happen.

There will be some genuine security issues, at least as long as humans are writing the code (and the documentation), but I expect there will be more fears of issues than actual issues. It’s like wars and rumors of wars. They can both be dangerous, but we can each take an active role in dealing with the latter.

As for me, I’m watching for where interconnectedness is growing fastest, and getting an elevator pitch ready to calm the nerves of my less-technical friends, coworkers, neighbors, the woman behind the counter at Five Guys, my landlord, etc.

Now I’m off to recharge my Pebble and Fitbit for the week, and make sure my unconnected fridge hasn’t turned itself off yet. But before I go…

What are you doing to prepare for the Internet of Everything? And where do you think the most FUD will come from? I’d love to hear your thoughts and predictions in the comments below

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The Future of Payments and Commerce: Digital Payment Strategies in the Age of Omnichannel Banking

Banks, for the most part, have realized the importance of mobile as a channel. Across the globe, empowered executives are being appointed to head up digital channel programs. Their primary mission: define and implement the mobile banking channel and seamlessly integrate it with the other major digital channels—online banking.

For the most part, they have focused their strategies on ”forklifting” online banking features to mobile without worrying much about mobile payments. However, the new reality of channel migration is a bit more complicated: the merger of virtual and digital channels in this new age of ”omnichannel banking” is bringing digital channels into bank branches, customer homes, and places of business, and transforming the world of payments and commerce.

So, how is the omnichannel reality affecting the world of payments, and why should banks care (aside from the fact that payments-related revenues can account for up to 25 percent of total retail banking revenues)?

Most of us are familiar with mobile apps that allow us, when in a retail store, to scan a product bar code, access online reviews, and potentially buy the product from Amazon.com (or a nearby retailer) at a discounted price. This capability is the new reality (and challenge) of omnichannel in the retail world. Such changes, however, will not end here: imagine receiving offers, digital coupons, credit card loyalty points, and more on your cell phone so that you can seamlessly apply them to your purchases when paying with your mobile device upon checkout (at the physical store or online).

The promise of connecting mobile payments and commerce through new capabilities embedded in the mobile wallet is real, and several mobile-wallet providers have emerged, including a number of non-financial-services players (telcos, tech companies, retailers, and others). Read More »

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