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IoT and RFID: What's the Connection?

The Internet is allowing for more hardware and human connectivity. How should industry respond to balance efficiency with privacy?
By David Sawatzke

A Disconnect to the Connected Relationship?
In some cases, the growth of connected devices is not being met with improved best practices from businesses. This reality can place consumers' privacy and security at risk. Although industry and governmental mandates are regulating technologies and promoting standards that allow for interoperability among devices, the IoT inherently exposes industry and consumers to more security threats. Privacy, as it relates to data collecting and sharing, also remains at the forefront of ethical and legal conversations.

For instance, The Internet of Things Improvement Act—introduced this spring by the U.S. Senate's Cybersecurity Caucus—requires all IoT devices purchased by the U.S. government to meet minimum security standards, including measures for secure product development and identity management. As part of the bill, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) must issue recommendations for IoT device manufacturers by Sept. 30, 2019. NIST will also be required to work with cybersecurity researchers and industry experts to develop guidance on coordinated vulnerability disclosures to ensure flaws are addressed when they are discovered.

Appropriate data storage, tracking and/or analyzing also appear to be lacking. According to researchers at SRI International, an independent, nonprofit research center, most IoT devices and networks do not include basic security and privacy practices as part of their design, and those who manage IoT systems are not properly informed when it comes to making decisions that affect the security and privacy of their systems. This creates problems when data is collected with the promise of delivering benefits to the health, safety and productivity of the end user. According to a study conducted by Gartner, a technology research and advisory company based in Stamford, Conn., the biggest barrier to the IoT is that most enterprises do not know what to do with the technology, and there is concern over who will lead IoT initiatives.

IoT Strategies for the RFID Industry
One of the more significant issues has been the management of the data flowing in from the growing number of RFID tags. According to researchers, companies should consider deploying centrally managed and centrally available solutions through the use of cloud-based applications and services that can take more responsibilities away from IT support at the point of activity to reduce associated costs. Building intelligence into tags through the utilization of AI and more competition with how RFID antenna are designed will be key undertakings.

In addition, technology is rapidly evolving to allow for direct printing of electronics in products as they are rendered, and flexible RFID tags that can be combined with printed sensors, printed batteries, thin-film photovoltaic solar cells and other technologies will become more standard. Money may also be saved through electronic printing and conductive ink technologies that enable companies to print chip-less RFID tags onsite.

Gartner researchers claim that implementing proper IoT solutions requires an IoT architect "who must be able to employ solution-level thinking by discussing what IoT specifically can and should do for a specific organization." Balancing proven productivity while maintaining a vision for the future, such as allowing for predictive organizational maintenance, is essential.

David Sawatzke is the VP marketing at Xoriant, a California-based product engineering, software development and technology services firm with offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. The company implements emerging technologies to deliver innovative solutions that accelerate clients' digital transformation initiatives. Xoriant's practices include product engineering, cloud and infrastructure, security, big data and analytics, data management and governance and the IoT.

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