Everything glitters for IoT gold

Aspects of the California gold rush of 1849, and the oil rush in Pennsylvania ten years later followed by similar events at Spindletop, Texas in 1901, are being repeated today as large companies rush to stake their claim in the rapidly emerging IoT world. Recognising the hugely lucrative potential of IoT, the largest information technology companies in the world are rapidly developing and acquiring technology in order to own a piece of the landscape.

Manufacturers are enhancing just about every device they produce to make them smart (adding computing power) and interconnected. Examples are smart light bulbs and smart electrical plugs. One benefit of smart appliances is smart diagnosis, notifying the service centre of the results of appliance self-fault diagnosis.

To enable smart technology, hardware manufacturers are rushing to stake their claim of the IoT space. Samsung have developed Artik chips, ARM have their Cortex-10 chips, Qualcomm their wi-fi chips, and there are numerous companies producing cheap, low-power IoT sensors such as STMicroelectronics, Samsung and LG. These sensors are designed to be built into just about everything imaginable.

Other giant global corporations rushing to stake their IoT claim such as IBM who have identified their IoT sweet spot in analytics, Booz Allen who have developed an IoT strategy, AT&T who’s focus is the connected car with their Drive Studio, and every major global telecommunications company rushing to create a part of 5G – the communication channel which will enable mass IoT data transmission.

The operating system used to drive IoT is critical with several technology giants having commenced battle for prominence. An IoT operating system must have a small footprint and be suitable for low-powered devices. Google are developing Brillo, Microsoft are developing an IoT version of Windows 10, Blackberry have their QNX platform, Hauwei have developed LiteOS, Intel have VxWorks, and Contiki is an open source IoT operating system project. The number of powerful players in this area reflects the influential role an operating system has in the IoT eco-system.

SentryBay are working on innovative ideas to secure the IoT ecosystem and safeguard privacy of data. Even today in a pre-IoT world, information security practitioners are battling to cope with the myriad of security threats directed at government, the enterprise and individuals. As the IoT gathers momentum, the attack surface will be exponentially enlarged. New technology, new operating systems, new environments, new devices – all will introduce new security vulnerabilities. Challenges to protect confidentiality, integrity and availability in an IoT environment will be exponentially greater.

To meet these challenges, companies need to work together rather than in silos – IoT security protocols and standards need to be developed, and security needs to be built into the ecosystem from the ground-up.

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