Policy and the Internet of Things

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Connections: The Quarterly Journal, Volume 15, Issue 2, p.9-18 (2016)


Critical infrastructures, Industrial Internet, Internet of Things, machine communications, security implications of IoT


Cybersecurity has steadily crept to the top of the national security agenda. Simultaneously, a merger of the physical and virtual worlds is noticeably underway. A confluence of technologies has come together to make this possible under the rubric known as the Internet of Things (IoT). This merger will bring sensors and computing devices totaling in the billions to connect objects together in a network that does not require human intervention, along with which will come much vaunted benefits, knowable risks, uncertainties and considerable security dilemmas. Using the past as a predictor of future behavior, a vast increase in hackable devices will create equally vast vulnerabilities that will now touch the physical world. Yet the IoT will also present opportunities that are just now being imagined, likely making the Internet revolution seem small by comparison. While technological growth often appears to outpace policy, government retains the power to convene and ultimately to regulate. This article examines why policymakers should care about the IoT, the significant trends for the next five to ten years, and likely security implications stemming from those trends. The article finalizes with an overview of policy considerations.