Standards

NIST takes a stab at defining IoT

Shutterstock image (by a-image): connected devices around the world.

A new publication from the National Institute of Standards and Technology seeks to define the building blocks of the Internet of Things with an eye toward security and scalability.

"There isn't a formal, analytic or descriptive set of building blocks that oversee the operation, trustworthiness and life cycle of IoT components," said Jeffrey Voas, a computer scientist at NIST and author of "Networks of 'Things.'"

Voas based his IoT building blocks on the elements of the familiar distributed computing model, in which computer components are connected via local-area networks and share information among themselves.

His Network of Things serves as the underlying model for larger IoT networks. NoT's four fundamentals are sensing, computing, communication and actuation. Its five building blocks, called "primitives," are core components of distributed systems.

For example, the primitives in a home's motion-activated lighting system begin with the motion sensors and include the communications channel and software that process the sensor's data and turn off lights in the room if no one is present.

NIST said the NoT model will give researchers a common language to use in solving security and other problems that arise as the IoT burrows deeper into the devices and networks we use every day.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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