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Friend or Foe? When IoT Helps You Get Hacked by Your Security

August 8, 2013 at 6:00 am PST

IoT Needs Physical and Network Security 4Earlier this year, the number of connected devices reached the 10 billion mark, surpassing the world’s human population, and experts expect that number to reach 50 billion over the next two years. This phenomenon, known as the Internet of Things (IoT), comprises a highly distributed model of connected objects, devices, and sensors that are used to communicate data. Everyday products can then use that data to analyze, plan, and make intelligent decisions. While IoT promises to fundamentally change our daily lives, arguably the most significant impact of IoT will be to the business world.

While consumers will enjoy new levels of connectivity with IoT, businesses will receive the lion’s share of the benefits. IoT will usher in a wealth of intelligence that businesses can use for planning, management, policy, and decision-making that will help them maximize productivity and efficiency while minimizing costs. In fact, some of these business applications already exist. For example, by connecting their cameras to the network, retailers can use analytics tools that can help them improve customer service, understand traffic patterns, and enhance inventory decisions. Read More »

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What Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and the Internet of Things have in common

Cisco published earlier this week the 2013 Cisco Global IT Impact Survey, exploring the relationship between IT and the business goals of the companies they support.  Among other things, 42 percent of those interviewed responded that they know about the Internet of Things, “as well as I know Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.” In other words, beyond a passing knowledge of e=mc2, the relevance of the Internet of Things to IT is about as illuminated as a black hole.

Does that really matter at this point? you might ask.  Isn’t the Internet of Things about Nike FuelBands and talking toasters?  In fact, a lot of what we call “industrial automation” or “safety and security” is the leading edge of the Internet of Things.  It’s already here today, called into the service of greater efficiency, productivity, and safety.  This is “operational technology” instead of “information technology”:  in other words, technology that directly monitors or controls physical objects and processes, such as assembly lines on a factory floor.

This has enormous implications for IT:

1. Security threats go from the merely cyber to the cyber-physical. Gartner summed it up nicely in the WSJ last week.  And let’s not even talk about Shodan

2. Beyond BYOD.  The consumerization of personal electronic devices transformed the enterprise networking landscape.  IT adapted to the new security threats posed, figured out how to associate multiple devices to a single user, etc.  Now imagine “bring your own programmable logic controller.”

3. Redefining networking scalability and data management.  And we thought video was a huge driver of traffic on the network.  SAP and Harris Interactive recently estimated that 4 billion terabytes of data will be generated this year alone. (For some idea of the scale, take a single IoT use case — smart meters.  Jack Danahy estimated 400MB of data per year.  Not much, you say? Multiply that by, say, 1 million households, and you get 400 terabytes already. For a single use case. In one city.)

IT has much to offer, and should.  As proprietary connectivity networks converge onto TCP/IP, IT can bring its expertise in securing IP-based networks. With experience in deploying cloud services, IT can bring in network management best practices.  And with expertise in software-defined networking, IT can help re-architect networks to support immense scale, real-time requirements, analytics at the edge, and more.

From the outside-in, the Internet of Things may seem like a fast-moving train that’s zooming by too fast to board. But if you’re in IT, get on board: you’ll experience relativity and relevance.

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Secure your retail premises with new Cisco Video Surveillance Manager 7

In June 2012, National Retail Federation released its  National Retail Security Survey.  In that report it suggests retailers in 2011 lost $34.5 billion to retail theft, or shrink – the loss of inventory due to employee theft, shoplifting, paperwork errors, or supplier fraud. Overall that accounts for approximately 1.41 percent of retailers sales last year.

One of the areas which retailers have invested in to address the shrink and security issue in gereral is video survieillance.  This can cover areas including loading docks and the parking lot  at distribution centers, or along the aisles and checkout in the stores for theft or criminal activities. 

Cisco  recently announced a new Video Surveillance Manager 7 with Suite of Hyper-Scalable Connected Physical Security Solutions that can help retailers address their video surveillance needs in a scalable and flexible manner. Read More »

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Video in K-12 Education

Video and education are a natural pair in many ways. With distance learning on the rise, it’s no surprise that more universities are turning to video as a way to scale their faculty and brand in ways never before thought possible. But what about K-12 education? Does video make sense in this learning environment?

To answer this question, we decided to take a look at one of our most innovative K-12 education customers, Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS) in Alabama. With 91 schools, 60,000+ students, and 8,100 employees spanning 1,200 square miles, MCPSS needed a comprehensive solution to help connect and share knowledge across campuses.

Campus communications, professional development, inter-school collaboration and lecture capture were just some of the areas that MCPSS was looking to address with Cisco’s Video solutions. With this in mind, MCPSS installed digital signs in the lobbies and cafeterias to help keep students, parents and teachers informed, while also helping to spark “incidental learning”.

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JetBlue Pilot Incident and Expected Response?

April 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm PST

In our weekly review call for the Cisco Cyber Risk Report for March 26-April 1, 2012 we discussed the incident of the JetBlue mid-air emergency incident. The incident has been widely reported, but a short summary is that the pilot was reportedly acting irrationally, which caused the co-pilot to lock him out of the cockpit and led to the crew and passengers having to subdue him until the aircraft could be landed and authorities removed the pilot. While the investigation of this incident continues, there have also been several of these types of incidents. A review of the incident raised several security questions with us over the incident response policies and procedures.

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