Definition

IoT device

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: A comprehensive guide to enterprise IoT project success
Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

An IoT device is any nonstandard computing device that connects wirelessly to a network and has the ability to transmit data; these are the things in the Internet of Things.

IoT devices include thermostats, light bulbs, door locks, fridges, cars, implants for RFID and pacemakers (among an almost infinite list of possibilities). The concept behind the Internet of Things (IoT) is all these things working in concert for people in businesses, in industry, or at home.

Here’s an example of the smart home enabled by IoT devices: The user arrives home and his car communicates with the garage to open the door. The thermostat is already adjusted to his preferred temperature, due to sensing his proximity. He walks through his door as it unlocks in response to his smart phone or RFID implant. The home’s lighting is adjusted to lower intensity and his chosen color for relaxing, as his pacemaker data indicates that it's been a stressful day.

IoT devices are part of a scenario in which every device talks to every other related device in an environment to automate home and industry and communicate more and more usable data to users, businesses and other interested parties. However, as is often the case, the technology has moved more quickly than mechanisms to safeguard user privacy and security.

It is estimated that 70 percent of IoT devices have unpatched vulnerabilities. In the smart home scenario discussed above, there are at least two potential fatal exploitable vulnerabilities. (The car and the pacemaker have both had demonstrations of exploited vulnerabilities.)

Concerned about the dangers posed by the rapidly growing IoT attack surface, the FBI released a public service announcement, FBI Alert Number I-091015-PSA.

This was last updated in February 2016

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