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How the IoT is Changing Network Monitoring

It’s hard to think of a name more vague than “the Internet of Things.”


The Internet is pretty hard to escape from anymore, unless you hit your roaming limit while driving through the Rockies (or your network monitoring tool misses that hub that went down) – it’s everywhere and everything, being usable from thousands of possible different interfaces. And things, well – they’re not persons or places, but that’s about as far as we can get into their specifics.

What is (not) the IoT, anyway?

A SpiceWorks Community thread from 2014 got to the heart of the IoT’s vagueness issue by asking what should NOT be grouped under its vast, wireless-enabled umbrella. One poster drew the line at his shaving razor, which we admit would seem to gain little or nothing from being connected to the public cloud. Another refused to include toilets in the IoT.

IoT Network - How the IoT is Changing Network Monitoring
The Internet of Things greatly complicates the network.

Anyway, the IoT does refer to a few concrete trends and pieces of tech – more “smart: devices, expanded use of Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/ZigBee, and added time tinkering with those networked home refrigerators and security cams, for starters. Overall it represents an interesting new phase for end users, network admins and organizations. But there are also fresh challenges to deal with, especially when it comes to cybersecurity and use of network monitoring software.

We can think of the IoT as basically bringing the Internet/cloud to a bunch of things that once had no need for connectivity but now might benefit from it. So you have your TVs, wristwatches, toasters, and embedded sensors, to name a few members of this category. The effect of bringing tens of billions of new things online really runs the gamut from good to bad:

  • Sensors in items like farm machinery (to use an example provided by Gartner) could collect and relay data back to its vendor, so that the overall products could be improved by using this new info – handy!
  • Small buttons – like the Tide ones rolled out by Amazon – can be used to order more than just merchandise on-demand. This Community thread outlined how to take one of these Amazon Dash Buttons, discover its MAC address, and set it up to automatically email and assign a help desk ticket with a simple press. Finally, a literal “easy” button.
  • The IoT is synonymous with security risks, though. A 2014 report from HP revealed that 70 percent of devices connected to the IoT were vulnerable to attack, due to everything from lack of transport encryption to failure to properly authorize users.

Scale is really the defining trait of the IoT, whether we’re looking at the sheer amount data it can hoover-up from vehicles or how many ticket requests it can route through something as tiny as a plastic button. Cisco has estimated that 50 billion devices could be connected to the Internet by 2020, up from “only” 15 billion in 2015. If nothing else, that’s a ton of new things to keep tabs on across networks everywhere.

Network monitoring for the Internet of Things

Simply put, the IoT forces you to start watching things that you previously never gave a second thought to.

Read the FULL STORY… 


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