Internet of Things: challenges & opportunities
Currently there are 4.9 billion connected devices – this number is expected to reach 27.1 billion by 2021, according to 11th Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI).
While the Internet of Things (IoT) offers plenty of benefits and is often described as the next Industrial Revolution, one very important question arises – how do we keep all of the connected devices secure?
A vast majority of enterprises are considering, or are already, using IoT devices. A survey by AT&T’s Cybersecurity Insights has found that 85% out of 5.000 companies surveyed (globally) are looking into IoT. However, 90% of those are not confident about the security of IoT devices vis-a-vis hackers and cyber attacks.
Therefore, the question of IoT security has been extensively explored this year. A number one trend according to Kyrio’s Director of Business Development, Security Services, Ron Ih, is increased use of specialized security tools and processes for IoT devices. A specific focus was set on how the use of digital certificates and public key infrastructure (PKI’s) can assure a more secure onboarding process.
Another security trend looks at secure messaging. After Snowden’s revelations concern about privacy grew within enterprises as well as the public. A boom in secure messaging and business chat apps has presented an increasingly popular solution to the privacy concern – encryption. Apps with billion users such as WhatsApp just recently introduced an end-to-end encryption. Other apps with encryption as a default feature such as Telegram or Signal are increasingly popular among end users. As for business chat apps, encryption features are becoming a must-have in order to secure business data (Bolste).
While IoT security methods evolve, certain challenges are still being faced. Main ones are the lack of competency to manage security complexities and a general lack of security experts within many device manufacturers. Moreover, businesses, pressured to comply with product schedules and the need to meet quarterly earnings, often ignore device security as it is currently too expensive and time consuming to properly implement it. Lastly, despite the fact that IoT has already been around for a while, the market pressure to go wireless leaves devices more vulnerable to cyber attacks.
To change that, Ron Ih proposes that companies should stop looking at security as a burden and address it using a holistic approach already at the design stage of a device. Spending more on security experts or looking for solutions that are easily digestible could also solve the vulnerability problem (Cable Labs).
As IoT requires strong, secure communication links and networks, it offers plenty of opportunities for telecom service providers (TSPs), communication service providers (CSPs) and equipment vendors. There is space to be filled not only in terms of improving wireless connectivity, but also regarding control and management, service provisioning platforms, big data and analytics, and privacy and security sub-systems (IEEE Communications Society).