We’re only in the second month of 2012, and already it has been a big year for security—a point of importance for any Internet-connected device or solution, including those that facilitate M2M communication.

Last month, the Supreme Court addressed the claim that connected devices, specifically GPS devices, infringe on the public’s right to privacy when used by law enforcement to track a potential suspect. This week, the Senate held a hearing to discuss the threat cyber criminals hold over our connected society, and how we can best protect ourselves—and our data—from security breaches and deliberate attacks.

On Tuesday, a group of Senate committee leaders introduced the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, a bipartisan bill meant to protect the nation’s critical data infrastructures and other connected systems on which governments, businesses, and citizens rely.

According to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, www.hsgac.senate.gov, this legislation is a result of three years of work (hearings, consultations, negotiations, etc.) and the time to act is now.

Senators identified “cyber security” as one of the most urgent issues the U.S. is currently facing. Some have emphasized the potentially devastating economic impact data security breaches could have on the nation.

Bob Dix, vice president of government affairs and critical infrastructure protection for Juniper Networks, www.juniper.net, who testified in Tuesday’s hearing, stressed industry leaders need to understand the threat, promote education, and drive dialogue around the issue of data security. Dix says the risk is dynamic; the “bad guys” are becoming more sophisticated on a daily basis, and therefore, so must we.

The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 would require the Dept. of Homeland Security to assess the risks and vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure systems, and to work toward developing standards and industry best practices, among other provisions.

Also this week, encryption-security software company, MerlinCryption, www.merlincryption.com, announced an M2M smart-encryption solution for connected devices such as smartphones, as well as connected solutions such as smart home, smart grid, and healthcare.

Because of the current security-threat landscape, companies like MerlinCryption with its MerlinM2M platform are working to help OEM (original-equipment manufacturer) developers and M2M providers protect themselves by keeping data secure from end to end.

In the case of MerlinCryption, its platform generates unpredictable and dynamically changeable “keys” that work with an encryption engine to produce different encryptions for each and every transmission. The process is designed to protect against cyber threats specific to the M2M world.

By promoting and/or enabling cyber security, industry leaders and participants are helping to create a connected world that will enhance society, not hurt it. Before M2M can reach its potential, it’s important to understand and to mitigate the ever-evolving threat to data security.