We hear a lot about how the Internet Of Things (IoT) will radically change our lives, how it will be a huge new part of the tech industry, how much money companies can make in it and how awesome it will be. But we never hear about when that will happen, and we barely see any of that happen.
So far, the only part of the IoT that the average consumer has knowingly seen is the end-user devices like smart watches and in-car infotainment systems. Those devices are the tip of the tip of the tip of the IoT iceberg, so to speak. In order for the IoT to really take off there’s a lot of infrastructure and under-the-hood solutions that have to be put into place first. Here’s a summary of the main technologies that need to be in place:
Secure And Private Device Platform
We’re hearing about security vulnerabilities in mobile devices and IoT devices almost daily. Just a few weeks ago, I reported that a study showed that 70% of IoT devices were vulnerable to attack. What do all those vulnerable devices have in common ? Two things:
- the developers of those devices didn’t take security seriously enough
- none of those devices are running QNX or BB10.
BlackBerry has solved the mobile security and privacy problem. What we need now is for device developers to start taking security and privacy seriously, and be rigorous about making their products secure and respect the users’ privacy. They can start by using QNX and BB10, which have proven to be secure, flexible, efficient and respectful of users’ privacy.
Infrastructure Security And Privacy
Along with device security, the IoT needs infrastructure security and privacy. Not only does network communications have to be secured, but so do the data centers (including the servers and databases) that store and process your data. Think of all the cloud services, or any network service that has been hacked over the past few years. Now scratch them out of the picture. They’ve proven they can’t provide a secure service and have lots of work to do in order to be able to do so.
Then there’s privacy. That rules out Google and all the companies that make money from mining your data. I’m sure they could provide a secure infrastructure if they wanted to, but they’re definitely not interested in providing privacy since that goes against their business models.
Right now, BlackBerry is the only company that I know of that takes infrastructure security and privacy seriously, and they’ve proven it.
Certificates, a.k.a. public key certificates, are digital documents that are used by devices on the network to prove who they are and that the content you receive from them in authentic (has not been forged.) Obviously, certificates need to be unhackable. But they also need to be efficient enough to be used by devices with little processing power and RAM.
There are several companies that have created certificates for the IoT. BlackBerry’s Certicom is a leader in certificates, especially in Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) and has entered the IoT in a big way. In 2015, they announced they had generated nearly 60 million certificates for ZigBee Smart Energy devices — ZigBee is a standardized protocol for networking low-power devices, and is intended to compete with Bluetooth and WiFi in some IoT devices.
The NSA has even licensed 26 of Certicom’s patents, to be used to secure US and allied government information.
With BlackBerry’s reputation for security, expect Certicom to continue to be a big player in the IoT.
Putting a bunch of IoT devices on the Internet will cause network traffic to skyrocket. It’s unlikely any carrier or service provider will be able to handle the traffic from all the IoT devices that are expected to connect to the Internet. In fact, I’ll bet they can’t. So carriers and service providers will have to greatly increase the capacities of their networks in order to handle the traffic.
For a true IoT, where devices are connected directly to the Internet and not just tethered to another device like a phone or tablet, we need IP addresses. And that raises the issue of the impending shortage of the IP addresses. We knew this was coming many years ago, but just about everybody procrastinated, with businesses claiming there was no business case for fixing it.
The end is nigh folks. In July of this year, The Hacker News reported that North America has run out of IP addresses. What they mean is that the final block of North American IP addresses has been assigned. Of course, some organizations aren’t using all their IP addresses, and one workaround would be to reassign those unused addresses to somebody else in North America. But all that will do is delay the inevitable for a little longer.
The real fix is to adopt IPv6 (we currently use IPv4 addresses), which uses 128-bit addresses instead of 32 bit addresses as IPv4 uses. That will provide 340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 addresses. Yeah, that’s a lot. :-D
The good news is that support for IPv6 has been built-in to operating systems and devices for many years. BlackBerry’s Blend uses it to communicate with their phones. So all we need is for the carriers and ISPs to switch to IPv6. If it’s done correctly, you most-likely wouldn’t even know they switched.
So there you have it. Yes, the IoT will be huge, but a lot of work still needs to be done for it to really take off as we’re being promised it would. I personally don’t expect it to really take off until about 2017 or 2018, but obviously that depends on how you define “really take off”.
Fortunately for BlackBerry and their fans, BlackBerry is on the leading edge of the IoT. So we can expect to see more really great IoT things from BlackBerry in the future. Welcome to the Internet Of Things, powered by BlackBerry. I love the sound of that. :-)