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The internet of things (IoT) brings with it a wide range of IT security headaches, along with compliance nightmares — and turf wars.

Internal problem No. 1: Departments that typically have little to no interactions with IT are now directly ordering corporate IoT devices. Maybe you’ve got Facilities purchasing IoT door locks or Maintenance buying a ton of IoT light bulbs. Given that those departments have been purchasing door locks and light bulbs for as long as anyone can remember and have never needed IT or security’s signoff, this can be a problem.

Internal problem No. 2: In many ways, IoT devices (think of devices for tracking pallets on ships or for monitoring where every fleet car is and how fast it’s been driven) are very different from anything else that IT or security has dealt with. The units are capturing data that has never been tracked before — Hello, Compliance. Go away, GDPR regulator — and in different ways, such as bypassing enterprise LANs and cloud networks and using internal antennas to directly communicate.

Blogger Stacey Higginbotham, who runs the Stacey on IoT blog, wrote last week that companies need to rethink how IoT should be managed internally, with the need for a new role explicitly to just handle IoT issues. Higginbotham suggested chief of automation or IT/OT architect (“OT” being operational technology).

Although I would applaud the idea that there absolutely needs to be some consolidation of IoT thinking and authority, I think this would be better handled with a specialist or a specialty team within IT. Consider the cloud. Even though it brings a wide range of technology, security and compliance problems, companies didn’t generally create “chief cloud officer” titles. When the technology is that important and embedded in so many departments, isolating it from the normal IT channels just makes the problem worse.

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The most interesting part of Higginbotham’s column is a wonderful passage about the experiences of a BASF asset manager named Amy Odom. Odom spoke on a panel about BASF’s IoT-powered equipment systems that used wireless vibration sensors to predict when systems were about to fail and the best guess as to that failure’s cause. BASF is a $63 billion global chemical producer.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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