Imagine if Ben Grimm, aka The Thing, didn’t have such distinctive characteristics like an orange rocky body, blue eyes or his battle cry, ‘It’s Clobberin’ Time!’ and had to provide a photo ID and password to prove he was a founding member of the Fantastic Four. Or if the alien in John Carpenter’s The Thing gave each infected life-form the proper credentials to come and go as they please. Today the things we call ‘Things’ are infiltrating every aspect of society but how do organizations identify, secure and determine access for the 15+ connected chips employees will soon be wearing to the office? And what business value to they bring?
Gartner refers to it as the ‘Identity of Things’ (IDoT) and an extension to identity management that encompasses all entity identities, whatever form those entities take. According to Gartner, IoT is part of the larger digital business trend transforming enterprises. It means that the business, the people/employees and the ‘things’ are all responsible in delivering business value. The critical part is the relationships between or among those participants so the business policies and procedures can reflect those relationships. Those relationships can be between a device and a human; a device and another device; a device and an application or service; or a human and an application or service.
For instance, how does the system(s) know that the wearable asking for Wi-Fi access is the one connected to your wrist? It really doesn’t since today’s Identity and Access Management (IAM) systems are typically people-based and unable to scale as more entities enter the workplace. Not to mention the complexity involved with deciding if the urine powered socks the VP is wearing gets access. The number of relationships between people and the various entities/things will grow to an almost unmanageable point. Could anyone manage a subset of the expected 50 billion devices over the next 4 years? And set policies for data sharing permissions? Not without a drastic change to how we identify and integrate these entities.
Talk about the Internet of Insider Threats. That's IoIT for those counting.
Gartner suggests that incorporating functional characteristics of existing management systems like IT Asset Management (ITAM) and Software Management Systems (SAM) within the IAM framework might aid in developing a single-system view for IoT. The current static approach of IAM doesn’t take into account the dynamic relationships, which is vital to future IAM solutions. Relationships will become as important as the concept of identity is for IAM in the IDoT, according to Gartner.
My, your, our identities are unique and have been used to verify you-are-you and based on that, give you access to certain resources, physical or digital. Now our identities are not only intertwined with the things around us but the things themselves also need to verify their identity and the relationship to ours.
I can hear the relationship woes of the future:
A: ‘I’m in a bad relationship…’
B: ‘Bad!?! I thought you were getting along?’
A: ‘We were until access was denied.’
B: ‘What are you talking about? You guys were laughing and having a great time at dinner last night.’
A: ‘Not my fiancé…it’s my smart-watch, smart-shoes, smart-socks, smart-shirt, smart-pants, smart-belt, smart-glasses, smart-water bottle, smart fitness tracker and smart-backpack.'