New research released today by Telsyte says the IoT market is set to soar with more than 300 million connected devices in Australian homes by 2021. That’s more than ten devices for every man, woman and child – and excludes commercial devices and applications. While managing and securing those devices will be a massive challenge, keeping them connected and remotely accessible will also see our telcos scrambling as they seek to further embed themselves in our lives
Telsyte says more than 40 per cent of Australian households now have
Last time I checked my home, I had over 20 connected devices by the time you counted mine and the kids’ computers, a NAS, tablets and smartphones, media streamers, a gaming console and a few smart switches and home automation devices. And I’d bet many regular Lifehacker readers would have more than that.
Security looms as a major issue. We’ve recently seen a Miele dishwasher shipped with a directory traversal bug. What made that flaw worse was Miele’s lack of systems for dealing with the problem. This is a major issue I see looming – many device makers are focussed on providing functionality but lack expertise in non-functional requirements like security.
Many routers, particularly low cost home routers, aren’t designed to manage so many concurrent connections. If you’re planning a major IoT rollout at your home or office, then make sure your WLAN is up to it. And keep an eye on developments with the lastest version of WiFi. WiFi HaLow promises to change the way IoT devices connect and communicate.
Our carriers also see great opportunity. Not all IoT devices are going to be comfortably nestled in the confines of our homes or offices. At a visit to the new Telstra Labs in Melbourne last week, CTO Hakan Eriksson told me of how Telstra was taking what they had learned from the use of the 4G network, and from companies they have supported in their muru-D start-up incubator, to ensure the new 5G network they will start trialling next year will be ready for the explosive growth in IoT devices.
As well as dealing with the volume of data, Telstra and the other carriers will need to tune their networks to deal with changing latency demands.
What’s clear is the number of IoT devices already in the market is significant. And there are lots of problems now with security, connectivity and data management. What concerns me most about Telsyte’s forecast is home users aren’t always the best at managing the technical challenges.
Many of the devices that will hit consumers – I saw a kit at my local Telstra store the other day for example – will require regular firmware updates in order to deal with new threats and to fix flaws that are detected. Very few home users I speak to do that for the gear they already have.
And device makers, keen to ride the wave and make sales as the market expands, will sell devices that aren’t built with security in mind.
That amounts to a perfect storm in my view. One where unsecured devices are shipped to unwitting users in numbers that make last years Mirai DDoS attack seem like a minor blip.