With the help of Internet protocols, everything with embedded electronics is to be integrated within a global communication infrastructure. According to a study by McKinsey, the number of connected devices is set to treble by 2020 from 10 billion to 30 billion.
However, it is not the devices (the "things") which set the Internet of Things (IoT) apart, but rather its networking. It ensures that the electronics embedded in the devices can contribute to completely new functions. The IoT closes the information gap between the real and virtual worlds. The result is intelligent systems which support people in all areas of life – in a manner that is hardly noticeable. By 2020, 30 billion objects and devices will be linked to the Internet.
The possible areas of application of the Internet of Things and the M2M technology (machine to machine) include the remote monitoring and controlling of buildings, machines and systems. However, customer service teams, for example, could also provide considerably more targeted help if they have direct access to sensor data from devices. Pay-as-you-use models will also be made possible. For instance, car insurance will only have to be paid for the period during which the sensors report usage via the mobile network. Your bathroom scales will be able to link up with your sport watch. Or miniaturised computers, so-called wearables, will be incorporated directly in items of clothing with various sensors. Smart meters and the smart grid will ensure the intelligent use of electricity: The washing machine will run when power is abundant and cheap. Or these smart innovations will be used in the car industry in order to ensure the safe operation of brake technology. It will be possible to track international mail items or vehicles fleets in real time via a GSM tracker and optimise their route, while bikes will inform their owners when they are stolen and where they are located.
It is more a case of applying various measures at a software and network level in order to ensure information security. The protective measures can prevent the external accessing of integrated devices. For example, via mutual authentication: Within a network environment, devices can authenticate one another with certificates and thus guarantee trusted communication. This is realised using hybrid encryption and certificates.
For the upper network levels, the standard SSL certificates can be used in order to encrypt communication and inhibit external attacks. SwissSign is developing special certificates on adjusted algorithms, meaning it will soon also be able to address the lower sensor levels more effectively. Here, efficient storage management and the effective exploitation of processor performance play an important role.