Congress and the Internet of Things

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Despite the trend toward the Internet of Things, some institutions are taking a slow and cautious approach given the possible security vulnerabilities. This includes the U.S. Congress. The Internet of Things usually refers to machine to machine communication.  For example, consider the Microsoft band that monitors heart rate, steps, calories, burned, etc. (which, incidentally, the co-chair of the Congressional Internet of Things Caucus wears). Recent breaches into government computers including the massive data breach at the Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”) clearly demonstrate that government computers are susceptible to hackers. In an effort to maintain security, the Architect of the Capitol notes there is a deliberate “air gap” between Congressional networks that control internal systems and the outside internet (although the Architect also notes that Congressional members and staffs can access the internet through secure firewalls. In short, the Architect notes that while some technology is good for private and home use, the same technology may not have the necessary security features for commercial application.

Companies need to be cautious in embracing new technology just for the sake of embracing new technology. The embrace of a new and trendy system without adequate security testing could pose even greater threats to the organization. In short, companies need to make sure they do their homework before embracing the newest or most popular thing.