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As you check your FitBit for your daily step count and ask Alexa to order your groceries and control your “smart” home, it’s hard to imagine life without the ease of the “Internet of Things.” All of these devices — possible through technological advances that made processors cheap, WiFi the norm, and IP addresses plentiful — fit under this neat moniker coined by visionary British technologist Kevin Ashton in 1999.

Twenty years ago, Ashton was working to persuade his bosses at Procter & Gamble to include RFID chips in their products to track the P&G supply chain. As Ashton told Tech Republic: “They had no idea what I was going to tell them, but they knew the internet was a big deal. If I could get the word internet into the title of my presentation, I could get their attention. I very hastily called the presentation The Internet of Things…”

Ashton spreads the word about IoT

Ashton left P&G for MIT, but the IoT catchphrase traveled with him, and today he’s known as the “Father of IoT.” He’s frequently interviewed about the definition of the “Internet of Things,” which he describes as a “a whole range of different sensors that are somehow connected to the internet that are gathering information about the real world that can then be made useful in some way.” In other words, the Internet of Things represents a network of objects that provide data to computers — something only humans could do back in the 20th century.

An estimated 20 billion IoT devices are in use — meaning there are almost three times as many digital “eyes and ears” in the world as there are human beings. That’s also 20 billion more opportunities for cybersecurity risk and even though your thermostat might not seem worthy of hacking, think again.

The same security best practices you use for your computer and your smartphone (strong passwords and software updates, among others) pertain to your IoT devices. So, be sure to take a moment during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month to assess the security of your connected devices.

Photo: ESB Professional / Shutterstock

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Kate Johanns

Posted by Kate Johanns

Kate Johanns is a communications professional and freelance writer with more than 13 years of experience in publishing and marketing.

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