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Shutterstock image (by a-image): Internet of Things (IoT) concept icon.

By 2020, experts forecast that 26 billion devices will be connected to the Internet, and some predict two or three times that number.

Researchers have concluded that agencies must decide how best to take advantage of the Internet of Things for core missions while protecting privacy and enhancing security. And that security model will likely have to be unique because every endpoint and network connection is vulnerable to hackers. Cybersecurity would also involve protecting IoT hardware and sensors, securing 4G and Wi-Fi, and preventing tampering with power grids and utilities.

Also at issue are federal laws that protect consumer and government data, such as the Privacy Act of 1974 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which were designed long before the IoT existed. Geo-location histories, financial information and health data are often stored on smartphones and other devices, and people naturally want assurances that their personal information is secure.  the report suggest that transparency about data policies and management would help.

The General Services Administration’s Smart Buildings initiative is cited as as a good example of an agency using the IoT to its advantage. Under the program, GSA installed sensors on government buildings to measure and manage environmental impact, energy efficiency, operating expenses and other factors.

The report recommends that the government create a strategy to educate the public and federal agencies alike about the IoT and its implications. The authors also urge Congress and the White House to avoid heavy regulation that could hinder the IoT’s growth and said they should instead focus on creating consumer-based standards and ensuring privacy protections.

Read the full report.


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