Source: Knoxville News Sentinel Column | Will Overstreet | May 8, 2016

Months ago, I wrote an article talking about IoT, the Internet of things.

As a refresher, IoT is a network of physical objects (vehicles, buildings, meters, etc.) that come with embedded sensors that collect and transmit data. Since these networks can be accessed online, they can also be remotely controlled.

One connected sensor or meter can have the potential for displacing and leading to the unemployment of numerous individuals, seemingly overnight. If machines can inspect and diagnosis themselves and then order their own repair parts, you can see less and less need for several positions filled by humans today.

Since then, the market has continued to expand and grow. Every week there seems to be a new article or announcement about Google's self-driving car. Even now the federal government is taking proposals from 10 cities to determine which city will receive $40 million in funding to pilot the "Smart City" program, IoT in the transportation system.

The Need for An Awakening

There is no doubt that the United States and private businesses should be investing in IoT technologies, but at the same time, everyone should also be having a much-larger discussion about how to increase security and protect everyone from hackers. If the status quo remains the same, our Utopia will only come after we have paid a very high price.

Virus, ransomware, identity theft, hacker, data breach -- all of these terms are becoming more frequently used and showing up over and over again as the day's headlines. Yet for the most part, we still see that most people and businesses in the country believe the risk only applies to others. Thus our naivety is and will be our biggest downfall.

The hacker is no longer teenagers trying to hack into their school's network in order to improve their grades, but a sophisticated underground network of entrepreneurial individuals and enterprises looking to capitalize on the uniformed with means.

Hackers are winning in the IoT age, and they are not the type you want to be a fan of. Hackers now come in many shapes and size:

• Hired gun Or hackptreneur -- Individuals looking to make profit illegally, especially those that come from countries with limited opportunity and capitalization of their skill sets.

• Organized crime -- Criminal outfits are shifting more focus from their traditional riskier criminal ventures to the low-risk, high-reward world of hacking.

• Enemy states and terrorist organizations -- They are actively setting up sleeper cell hacks in order to be able to launch a major attack in the future, or they are trying to wreak as much havoc as they can if given the opportunity.

• Third world countries -- Providing the protection of low risk of extradition, the country can simply look away as far as where the money comes from, but at the same time be very proactive in taxing its citizen hackers in order to get its portion of the proceeds.

With the birth of any emerging technological age, a new set of winners and losers will be crowned. The new age will give opportunity to those previously lacking any, and those who have the desire, skill set, and a little luck will find their lives and the generations to come changed for the better.

On the other side of the coin, those who are on top today, and ignore the signs of the coming shift and look only to fortify their existing positions, will find that solid ground can quickly become quicksand. They risk becoming a relic on the wall of history. The U.S., its citizens, and its businesses must wake up and began combating the enemy.