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The Internet of Things and Computer and Network Techs

Interested in becoming a computer technician networking specialist? This is what you should know about the internet of things (IoT).

First, what is the internet of things? What are the challenges of IoT? How is IoT growing? Why is connectivity a concern? Why does more IoT mean more network monitoring? Finally, why does the growth of IoT mean greater security concerns?

With the answers to these questions, a computer technician networking specialist will have built a solid foundation to tackle the benefits and concerns of the internet of things.

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What Is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The internet of things is a network of devices, home appliances, vehicles, and anything with a computer chip and network connectivity allowing it to exchange data.

The internet of things is all around us, and almost everything with a computer chip can access the internet to talk with mobile devices. It might be a baby monitor that syncs with a mobile phone for parents to keep an eye on their child or a surveillance camera that is used to secure a home.

Challenges of IoT

Along with many benefits, IoT also presents great challenges for networks. The number and variety of connected devices in an IoT implementation affects network design, management, and scalability.

Many organizations merge IoT initiatives with existing networks, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Some build IoT networks from scratch. Others opt for cloud based software as a service (SaaS) solutions to manage IoT initiatives.

Challenge 1: Knowledge – Computer technician networking specialists should be well-versed in network standards, protocols, and technologies. They should be able to handle Wi-Fi, cellular, Bluetooth Low Energy, Zigbee, and RFID technologies used in consumer applications and low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) technologies.

Knowledge of lower cost, low-power, long-range solutions suited to large-scale IoT applications would also be useful for a computer technician networking specialist to understand.

Challenge 2: Inventory – Networks may already contain IoT devices, such as surveillance systems, cash registers, badge readers, and vending machines. Recognizing IoT devices and listing them is difficult, given that nearly any device can connect to any available network.

Challenge 3: Interoperability – When large numbers of devices are connected across different industries, the functionalities and technologies adopted by them may not sync up properly. Every industry and company may have customized IoT implementations to suit their respective ecosystems. Many are reluctant to compromise and adopt common standards.

Challenge 4: Security – Security is a major concern in IoT implementation, as physical and network access to network components are vulnerable to attacks. Computer technician networking specialists need to assess threats, secure network architectures and applications, and monitor events and activities. They need to at least be aware of ethical hacking, encryption to ensure data integrity, and threat intelligence.

Challenge 5: Interruptions – If any connected device or application malfunctions, the network can be affected.

The following can help networks bear the impact of IoT.

  • Well planned IoT deployment to anticipate the minimum network requirements of devices
  • IoT gateway to aggregate data, translate protocols, and process data before sending it forward
  • Preparation of adequate capacity, bandwidth, and readiness to analyze and store big data
  • Strict security procedures

High-quality devices attached with sensors and actuators, state-of-the-art data analytics software, and interactive user interfaces connected by a network that functions well make a great IoT project. What makes the project work properly is expert network administration that manages all these components efficiently.

IoT Is Growing

The Business Insider Intelligence research report forecasts that by 2025, more than 55 billion devices will be IoT enabled devices. This number reflects an increase of just over six times more than the 2017 estimate of nine billion IoT devices, and today’s enterprises are helping to drive that growth.

Companies across several industries are using IoT devices to help drive operational efficiency, enhance productivity, and improve the customer experience. Enterprises are increasingly using IoT in the workplace and to support consumers’ needs.

Some ways businesses are using IoT in the workplace include using voice assistants to find important information for project managers and leveraging heart monitors with sensors that enable medical professionals to remotely monitor patients’ heart conditions.

IoT devices are used also to help manufacturers’ equipment communicate to facilitate automation and improve supply chains. With the growth of IoT device use, computer network administrators will increasingly play an important role in the installation and maintenance of IoT networks to help promote business goals.

Connectivity Is a Concern

With so many IoT devices expected to be in use, enterprises will need to have an infrastructure that is robust enough to handle connectivity requirements. The IoT networks of today are often on centralized networks, which can aid networks that have even thousands of IoT networked devices connected to them.

However, there will be an increasing need to shift to decentralized networks in order to support millions and billions of IoT devices. These devices will require support from IoT hubs and cloud servers that will need to assume a variety of responsibilities, including data gathering and the authentication and identification of devices.

This will require the use of edge devices and the support of edge networks to diversify the communication devices that handle connectivity, rather than leveraging centralized on-premise servers or cloud models.

Enterprises will require computer network administrators to have expertise in the technology and practices that facilitate decentralized networks, such as edge or fog computing, peer-to-peer communication, mesh network technology, and IoT gateway installation.

More IoT Use Means More Network Monitoring

As the use of IoT enabled devices continues to grow, so will the need for monitoring its networks. Cybersecurity issues remain a concern for enterprises as IoT networks continue to evolve and are handled by multiple third parties.

The positive aspect of network monitoring is that it is not a new concept. Network monitoring is part of what computer network administrators do to support enterprises’ network systems. However, what will change for network administrators regarding network monitoring best practices is how often networks are monitored and the types of devices that will require monitoring.

Network administrators will need to increase monitoring efforts and capitalize on network monitoring tools to quickly determine network issues. Thus, it is vital for computer network administrators to leverage their multitasking, analytical, and problem-solving skills to provide the type of support that enterprises need to support their network monitoring efforts of IoT devices.

Growing IoT Use Means Growing Security Concerns

While IoT is set to improve enterprises’ operational efficiency and enhance the customer experience, it is also much of a security concern. If vulnerabilities exist within a company’s computer network, it won’t be long before a hacker attempts to exploit it.

These vulnerabilities give way to data breaches, which can create huge liability issues, violate privacy laws, and put consumer data at risk. Moreover, data breaches can adversely impact enterprises, as they are usually costly in terms of data loss, productivity loss, and litigation.

Data breaches can also turn into a ransomware situation, where hackers withhold vital information in exchange for money or cryptocurrency. Thus, enterprises will continue to need computer network administrators with the analytical and problem-solving skills necessary to thwart potential data breaches.

Computer network administrators will be expected to take proactive steps to secure IoT networks, such as running audits and risk analyses and even verifying the third-party vendors that they work with.

Network administrators will need to leverage their analytical skills to assess the health of the network. They will also need to pay attention to details to quickly identify vulnerabilities in the system that hackers can exploit.

Final Thoughts

IoT is on the cutting edge of computer network administration and is impacting the role of network administrators as the technology continues to evolve and as enterprises continue to integrate it into their business models.

Thus, it’s vital for network administrators to be equipped with the cutting-edge skills that today’s enterprises require. Computer network administrators will need to have the advanced technical skills that today’s enterprises need to support IoT devices and the networks that these devices connect to.

Interested in learning more about computer networking and the internet of things (IoT)? Ready to become a computer technician networking specialist?

The Computer Technician Networking Specialist program at Hunter Business School is designed to prepare computer networking students for entry-level positions in the fields of electronics, computer technology, and networking. Students build their own computers and use them in the learning process.

Contact us today to find out more about how to become a computer technician networking specialist on Long Island.