Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Internet of Things (IoT)

Internet of Things (also called “IoT”) is a network of smart devices. The devices need to be smart enough to gather, collect and report data – whether raw or after processing. This Internet of Things (IoT) FAQ post attempts to assist people who were recently introduced to this technology of connecting different devices to the Internet to share data among them or with the human.

Frequently asked questions about Internet of Things

Internet of Things FAQ

I would define Internet of Things as follows.

“Internet of Things is an umbrella term for multiple unrelated networks that contain smart devices — each of which, is capable to send, receive, and process data without or with minimum human interference.”

There are many networks on the Internet that work for one or more organizations/entities. They are protected using firewalls and do not allow access without passwords. Such intranets are mini-networks (both LAN and WLAN) part of which, is based on the Internet.

Intranets are parts of the Internet. If Intranet contains smart devices, it can be called Smart Networks or the Internet of Things. This also means that there are more networks – more than just one Internet of Things on the Internet. These networks work unaware of each other. These are small networks, each containing devices capable of processing information on their own to get a job done.

What are Smart devices?

The general conception is that anything that connects to the Internet is a smart device. In reality, there are certain conditions that the device should fulfill to be called a smart device.

  1. The device should be able to connect to the Internet, on own or with certain triggers.
  2. The device must have an IP address so that it can communicate with others
  3. The device should be able to take in data automatically and process it as the algorithms demand
  4. They should be able to communicate among themselves without the need for human interaction, or they can report directly to a human when required

You can see some simple devices for Internet of Things (IoT) examples here.

What are the basic elements of an IoT?

This depends on how you structure your network. You may use a client-server model or peer to peer (P2P) model to set up how you want your smart devices and computers to function.

In most cases, they are of the plug and play type devices. With that ease of connection, most of us use P2P topology for creating the Internet of things to keep it simple.

Generally, most network admins use P2P and put all of the devices on their side of the firewall so that they can prevent device hacking.

Why would anyone hack Smart Devices’ Internet of Things?

Because smart devices are easier to hack, compared to bigger computers and laptops, until now, the manufacturers of things were not concerned about hacking and other issues. But it happened that few hackers hacked many simple, smart devices, (like a toaster) to launch an even bigger attack on some other websites for attacks like distributed denial of service (DDoS).

What is the security buzz about Internet of Things? Is IoT dangerous?

The Internet of Things contains smart devices without any or many security features. As said earlier, hacking Smart devices on Internet of Things can be the easiest way for a hacker. He or she may take control of millions of connected devices and use them as botnets for destroying or disrupting services of more secure websites of institutions like banks, government-related websites, or any corporate house.

How to secure the Internet of Things?

IoT can be dangerous once all smart devices and networks start communicating among themselves without any human interference. That can happen because Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now present in all operating systems, programs, apps, etc. One just needs to find the devices on the Internet and use them for whatever work they want to be done.

However, that scenario will seldom be possible with manufacturers and network admins applying security features to the devices. The ideal case would be to use a hardware firewall so that the network is not visible on the Internet.  The network and all the gadgets go behind the router, and no node (smart devices and other stuff on the network) can access Internet directly. Entities also need to educate their staff on phishing attacks, especially social engineering.

What Operating Systems do the Internet of Things use?

Among best operating systems for Internet of Things, Windows 10 for IoT is my favorite any day – because of its ease of installation and use on microchips.

There are other operating systems like Linux and Contiki. While Windows 10 for IoT provides you a graphical interface for building a smart device, operating systems like Linux and Contiki provide more control on things by using scripts that need to be written from scratch. Though the Windows 10 for IoT gives you a good interface so that it is easy on users, Contiki helps you create a program from scratch and add security features using command line interface.

Read about the comparison of Windows 10 vs Contiki for Internet of Things. You can see that the learning curve is too high for working on Contiki and Linux while Windows 10 for IoT comes with many features preinstalled. Security is one of them (the discussion about security is still applicable). We published an article on Windows 10 for IoT Advantages against other platforms.

The above Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for the Internet of Things (IoT) are not comprehensive. If you have any more questions or doubts, please leave a comment below.

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Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN

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