Data Security (Internet of Things)

Data Security – ‘Internet of Things’ – be careful what you wish for….
We are all aware of the collection of data in our everyday lives. Individuals want to consume a product or service and the provider’s gain a value exchange for this personal data. This is all governed by the Data Protection Act 1998 and amended in 2003. There are clear guidelines for the gathering, storage and usage of data and companies face prosecution for failure to comply.

There has been a shift in direction for data collection and this is known as the Internet of Things (IOTs).

“We define the Internet of Things as sensors and actuators connected by networks to computing systems. These systems can monitor or manage the health and actions of connected objects and machines. Connected sensors can also monitor the natural world, people, and animals.”
(McKinsey Report, 2015)

Essentially machines are collecting and correlating data to improve our experiences. This has positive implications for improved health data, smart home appliances, automated cars and even having umbrellas stocked when rain is forecast or a cold drink on a hot day. So when thinking of our data we must consider how the IOTs will impact on data security.

Innovation for good
There is no doubt the potential benefits of IOTs is extraordinary. The McKinsey report highlights several areas that the IOTs will have a realistic of creating value in the next decade. IOTs not only creates employment in research and projects but for business to emerge and improve with the data output.

IOTs McKinsey diagram

McKinsey Report (2015): IOTs

The monitoring of health is an area where the obtaining of data could improve health and save people’s lives. Smart watches could measure and track people and not only provide data for chronic illnesses but detect a stroke or heart attack before it even happens.
Smart cities are becoming more and more likely with research on improving transportation flow with autonomous cars, power usage from metering and water and air quality with sensors. This not only will produce saving for city authorities but improve life for people in the city too.

But what are the costs?
There is no doubt that the potential benefits from IOTs could transform the way we do things in the future. But there is one big question that needs to be addressed, how do we keep data secure?

This is a consideration that needs a lot of thought as once machines are collecting data we need to focus on another dimension of regulation.
An article on data security by the Guardian (2015), demonstrated some areas where the IOTs may have serious concerns for data security. Regulation can become a problem for example in the use of Smart Maters reducing energy bills. The data may fall under several regulator jurisdictions including; energy regulator, broadband regulator and the data may even be outside of the country.
Security is another big risk and the potential for the data to be hacked is a serious concern. Data may be hacked for say a person’s pacemaker or a terrorist organisation hacking a vehicle.

The potential for the IOTs to shape our future, using data, is a positive step forward. Smart devices will emerge to improve people’s lives and society in general. The McKinsey report highlighted a number of areas that will create value in the next ten years. The potential threat for IOTs data to be used negatively is a grave concern. It is important for the regulator to understand these technological changes and reflect these in Acts to protect consumer’s data. It is important to regulate the access and control of the data and prosecute any breaches that will occur.