John Hering describes the merging of the physical world with the digital world

Until recently the term “Internet of Things” had been a novel concept and ambitious vision that encompasses the endless technological possibilities that exist in a future where everything is truly connected. Today, that world is finally becoming a reality.

We see evidence of this smart world all around us. From Jawbone to Nest to cars that are powered by the Android OS (perhaps a bit farther off), we’re engaging in new ways of interacting with technology through touch, voice and sensors.

Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs put this into perspective at the recent CES conference: “Young people today are born mobile”. Our unrivaled adoption of mobile worldwide and the associated shift of mobile technologies into many areas of our lives, including TV, the office, electric vehicles, healthcare and education, have been instrumental in spurring the momentum of the Internet of Things.

The world is ready for this shift and the potential is huge. Currently, there are an estimated 8.7 billion Internet of Things- connected devices. That’s hardly a dent, according to Cisco, which estimates that more than 99% of physical objects that may one day join the network are still unconnected.

Industry and governments are preparing. Last year, the IoT-GSI Global Standards Initiative was created to promote a unified approach for development of technical standards enabling the Internet of Things on a global scale. As we lay the foundation for this new world, we must prioritize the security risks associated with this shift. With its many benefits, Internet of Things also poses great security and data privacy challenges that must be addressed and governed.

As the physical and digital worlds merge, and we become more reliant on the interconnections forged, we need to collaborate to ensure the integrity of its security. The consequences of not doing so escalate as the physical world entwines with our digital one.

At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2013 this week, we should prioritize conversations about what it will take to protect the critical infrastructure that is powering the Internet of Things.

Author: John Hering is Chief Executive Officer of Lookout Mobile Security and a 2013 Technology Pioneer. Lookout is a mobile security company dedicated to making the mobile experience safe for everyone. It delivers award-winning protection from the growing threats facing mobile users today, including malware, phishing, privacy violations, data loss and loss of the phone itself. With over 25 million users across 400 mobile networks in 170 countries, it is the world leader in smartphone security. 

Image: I man talks on his phone in front of a sign promoting internet connectivity in South Korea REUTERS/Kim Kyung-hoon