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Sony Hack Shows Need for 'Internet of Things' Security | @ThingsExpo [#IoT]

Catastrophe Awaits if We Can't Fix Stupidity and Malice

There are boggling challenges on the planet, each of them affecting all of us, one way or another. Food. Clean water. Vaccinations. Health care in general. Then those second-level concerns which are also catalysts for the big problems: transportation, communications, finance.

There are about 7.2 billion people on the Earth-around a modest 7 gigapeople in computer terms. (This should give one an idea of how big all those magnitudes beyond a gigabyte-terabytes, petabytes, exabytes, and zettabytes--really are.)

Trillions of dollars will be required to solve any of the big problems for all the people of the world. I would like to think that millions of dedicated people devising vast IoT solutions will make steady progress in each area over the coming years and decades.

Hacked Off
But first, we need to address the security of our systems. The Sony hack-whether perpetrated by unruly kids, angry insiders, a foreign government or two, or some combination thereof-may wake us up. As I imagine the movie at the center of this incident to be, the issue itself is not funny.

Less reported globally was a cyberattack in Germany that targeted steel mills, causing enormous damage to some blast furnaces when they ran out of control and could not be shut down systematically. The weak link was apparently the interface between the furnace-control systems and an office system that collects and analyzes operational data.

Wow. In a world of sophisticated, inter-connected IoT grids, the potential for catastrophic damage increases dramatically. I can imagine a world paralyzed by IoT grid collapse that could make the great Northeast power outage of 1965 look like a small incident.

What can be done? Two big questions arise for me: how much of the Sony problem was caused by human laziness and stupidity? How attack-proof can we make enterprise IT in general and the interstices of future IoT deployments in particular--ie, is Six Sigma a possible or even worthy goal? Perhaps we can settle for four.

A Tera This, a Tera That
Then problems can be addressed, but they are enormous. As one example, the world today requires about 2.4 terawatts of electricity online, on average, around the clock. This requires about 2,000 big power plants.

Most developed nations use from 3% to 5% of the power on a per-person basis as developed nations.An additional 10,000 plants at an investment of $20 trillion-more than the current US or EU economy--would be required to bring the entire world up to a highly developed standard of living. Additional tens of trillions would be needed for accompanying infrastructure.

Perhaps this could be accomplished in a century, assuming quantum breakthroughs in energy use and production. Anyone alive today has no chance of experiencing such a world. All we can aspire to is to be spoken of kindly in the centuries to come.

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Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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