How to Monitor the Health of Your IoT Network
The network is arguably the most vital component in any Internet of Things (IoT) implementation. The sensors, controllers, and other devices that make up the IoT hold little utility if they cannot communicate with each other. Network connectivity is the key to this communication and allows the concept of the Internet of Things to be realized.
Advancements in miniaturization have made it possible for electronic sensors and computer processors to be embedded into almost any object. Once this object is connected to a network it can share information with other devices as well as centralized data processing systems. The collection of these objects and devices, along with their associated networks, are referred to as the Internet of Things.
Industry, business, and the scientific community have all begun to explore how the IoT can be used to their advantage. Sensors and monitors are used to collect data from machines in industrial production facilities. This data is then used by automation software to optimize processes and procedures.
Businesses have found applications for IoT implementations in ways to better determine and provide for their customers’ needs. The development of smart homes and appliances is an example of the Internet of Things touching consumers in their everyday lives.
There are many diverse applications of the IoT, but they all retain the same underlying structure. A common aspect is that all IoT systems are comprised of a collection of network connected devices. Maintaining the health and viability of this network is critical to the success of any IoT project. Let’s take a look at some ways you can monitor the health of your IoT network.
Monitoring IoT Networks
Your first thought may be that this is nothing new. Network monitoring has been a component of your enterprise’s IT responsibilities and you see this simply as an extension of those duties. But there are a number of differences in your old network paradigm and the one you need to embrace when working with the IoT. They include:
- Increased data flow and much heavier network traffic. The sheer number of connected devices communicating on the IoT is estimated to triple from 2015 to 2020. This may mean updating your monitoring tools to handle the increased throughput demands on your network.
- A wider range of data formats and protocols will be encountered when working with the numerous devices on the IoT. Your network and its monitoring tools need to be flexible and scalable to be able to handle anything that gets connected to your network.
- Security concerns have grown with the addition of billions of devices to the world’s networks. Every device has the potential to be hacked in some way. Any hacked device offers an opportunity to allow unauthorized entry into your company’s network. This is a new level of network security vulnerability because devices may be joining the network that have not gone through any vetting process. According to krebsonsecurity.com, there have already been malware attacks directed at the Internet of Things that have infected over a million organizations.
How to Monitor Your IoT Network
You will need to adapt your current network monitoring practices and systems in order to adequately monitor a system that interacts with the IoT. There are also new technologies that are being brought to bear on the issue of monitoring the networks of the Internet of Things. Some of the immediate changes your team should consider making are:
- Upgrading your monitoring tool licenses to allow for the increase in objects that will be monitored.
- Upgrading the capacity of your network to prepare it to handle the increased amounts of data that is a byproduct of the IoT.
- Monitoring on shorter time intervals. With the increased number of devices and potential problems and bottlenecks, decreasing the interval between health checks is essential to maintain your network’s integrity.
- Increasing their focus on security. A key to this is understanding how your network operates under optimum conditions, so as to better understand what is going wrong when it malfunctions. Remote devices may introduce malware that works in mysterious ways, and a thorough knowledge of your network’s operation will make it possible for you to identify an intruder.
Technological Advances in IoT Network Monitoring
As networks for the IoT evolve and become increasingly complex, monitoring tools need to keep pace. There are cutting-edge technologies that are being built into current tools that can be incorporated into the network monitoring strategy you employ. According to computerweekly.com, a greater focus on the role of monitoring in security is one aspect of these tools. Another is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in the effort to develop more efficient monitoring tools.
AI holds promise in enabling applications to gather more information and increase visibility across the network. The increased amount of data generated by connected devices and the network itself cannot be readily addressed by static technology and human monitoring. Machine learning is built on an artificial intelligence base and has great potential in developing complex network applications.
ML offers the potential to build reactive systems that can assign more bandwidth and learn when to proactively allocate it in the future. The ability of the application to evolve as network situations change can assist in automation and monitoring, freeing up your personnel to perform other types of analysis, such as assisting in enforcing network security.
Network monitoring tools can be used as part of an overall security strategy. Dedicated Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are becoming more prevalent due to the expanded number of potential introduction points for malware on the IoT. Monitoring tools can alert you to unusual traffic patterns that may or may not indicate a problem. Further investigation can be taken to determine if you need to be concerned.
A quality and robust network monitoring strategy is essential to any business or industry working with the Internet of Things. Without your network, you will be left with a lot of remote and uncommunicative devices which will prove useless to your enterprise. Make monitoring your network a priority in your IoT plans.