What does the Internet of Things mean for Software Testing?

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    Ronan Healy

    Hi guys,

    I was reading this morning a blog post by @Chris Ambler on how the Internet of Things might affect software testing.

    As a lot of these “things” come online, there will be challenges for software testers. Security, user Experience and other areas will be priorities. Indeed, for example how do you test the user experience of a fridge?

    I liked his suggestion that “Internet of Things” testing will be four dimension testing: ” testing environments, people’s habits, impacts and needs.”

    What do you think? Have any of you had experience with testing devices in this area? Is it just applying existing testing parameters to new devices or does a new approach need to be taken?

    Also I’m worried what a terrorist fridge looks like.


    I’ve written three longish articles that discuss the challenge here: http://gerrardconsulting.com/?q=node/479

    Ronan Healy

    @Paul Some interesting thoughts there. I really like the “A Day in the Life” article with the Internet of Things. It’s amazing/scary how much of our lives might depend on software in the future.


    The biggest issue for me is security. Data about us is going to be flowing around over which we as individuals will have little or no control. How do we as consumers or owners of the devices know what info is being sent? What information about us do others know? How is that info being harvested? We already have targetted adverts, and this takes it on so much further. All our habits, likes, dislikes etc will be known and that info stored in many locations and used in ways which we cannot perceive as yet.

    As testers, we have to be concerned with the validity of the data that is sent from a device to another location (device or db), and the storage and retrieval thereof. Security of the data held in a database is of course paramount, and security of the actual data against tampering (as @Chris Ambler mentioned). I agree that the scariest option is where someone alters the data to cause an individual harm. It is a sad fact that anything developed for good is very soon used for nefarious purposes. We developed planes for air transportation of people and goods, yet it didn’t take long before they were used to throw bombs out of to kill people!

    The IoT WILL be abused by those looking to gain financially or to do harm. We have to think how we can test for this eventuality, and it highlights the need for testers to massively upskill in security awareness and testing.

    Chris Ambler BSc(Hons) FBCS

    It’s more than just security at the final destination or its manipulation Steve. Just in the simple approach of Apple Watch to iPhone to Back End Systems creates a complex chain of integrations that need to be tested. Where do we concentrate our security testing efforts? Is it on each device? Over the whole journey? Or on the inputs and outputs? It’s not just from a security perspective though – the concept of Four Dimensional Testing covers the product itself – the PRODUCT part, the person that uses it – the PEOPLE part, the environment it works in – the PLACE part and the way it is used – the PROCESS part. We need to think about all of these things considering functionality, integration, performance, security along with user experience. The technology has become more complicated and the environments have become bigger and less controlled. This creates some interesting challenges for us testers. We can use many of the testing methodologies we have been creating for years but we will need to enhance and improve them to make them effective in this new world. As a starter for 10, I think this works:

    IoT=Mobile+Cloud+Big Data+User Experience

    This gives us a starting point to work from and you can read more on my blog at http://www.chrisambler.net or on Twitter @amblerchris

    Chris Ambler


    Strangely, I’m not terribly worried about IoT. No, I’m no expert in testing all things like Cloud, Big Data, Mobile. If the developers can overcome the challenge and build system like that, why not a tester can test it.

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