Can You Put a Sensor on a Bull and Call it the Internet of Things?

An odd question to ask, right? But the answer is, theoretically, yes, you can put a sensor on a bull and call it the Internet of Things.

That’s not exactly a direct quote from Peter Romness, the Cybersecurity Solutions Lead for the U.S. Public Sector at Cisco, but while discussing what is a part of the IoT in our recent cybersecurity webinar, “Staying Secure and Connected: The Power of the Internet of Everything,” he mentioned putting a sensor the size of a fingernail on a bull will give you global positioning, on the many parameters that are included on typical devices that are network and IP enabled. Crazy, right?

In our event recap, we touched briefly on the key takeaways from the online training, such as the five high priority items identified as needing safety developments discussed by Tom Millar, Chief of Communications at the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT). Also discussed was the “Before, During, and After Continuum” – Cisco’s new approach to creating a more manageable, secure network systems shared by Romness. But as you can probably guess from my bull reference, there’s just one tiny problem we didn’t talk much about – there are too many devices!

Anything with the ability to read data and control it – more than just sensors and devices – are a part of the IoT. This causes the fence of network to become very complex, fragmented, and requiring additional management – all things organizations don’t like very much. So what can you do about it?

Millar suggests “coaching up” – encouraging good behavior in addition to making people aware of all the good practices and tools out there, like how to test and acquire safe components.

Here are additional questions to ask about the problems surrounding the IoT:

  • What are the categories and how to approach them?
  • What types of technology are involved and where do we have gaps in our knowledge?
  • And organizations like US-CERT and Cisco should be asking, where do we have an angle to get industry partners and help them become aware of the best practices in their field and the better ways to procure their tools?

As Romness noted, “there’s not a silver bullet when it comes to protecting the Internet or your own corporate network.” But if companies shift to the mindset of “when are we [instead of if] going to get hacked?” and start doing things pass the traditional ways of keeping things out of your network in order to look for things that may have already gotten in, they can secure the insecure and be one step ahead.

Cisco’s recommendation for more visibility, better decision-making, and saving money in the long-run include:

  • See what’s out there and control it – know what’s on your network and what’s beyond it
  • Know the expected behavior of sensors
  • Monitor traffic
  • Push visibility and control to the edge

In case my bull reference is too far of a stretch for you, be sure to view the on-demand version of this training here to get a better glimpse into the industry’s responses to the many devices of the IoT, including the visibility-driven, threat-focused, platform based solution by Cisco.


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