The high-stakes struggle to secure the Internet of Things is bringing companies together, but the way forward may come from the disruptive technology behind Bitcoin: Blockchain.
The world of machines is getting smarter and more connected. From refrigerators that access the Internet, to Wi-Fi smart scales to track your weight and BMI, to self-driving automobiles, the Internet of Things (IoT) has emerged as the future of everyday technology. Frighteningly, few in the Information Technology world would argue that the IoT is becoming more secure, and many would say the opposite. The question is, in a world where security breaches are commonplace, how can we get to a place where all devices are vastly more secure?
Network of Insecurity
More connected devices have given hackers more targets. Where once users only had to be concerned about protecting their respective computers, now there are a host of gadgets to secure. Many take a cavalier approach to issues of device security. For example, users are often loathe to run security updates on computers, and security vulnerabilities remain as a consequence.
When those updates must be run on multiple devices, updates can become even less convenient, and IoT solutions become easier to compromise. Security issues due to update fatigue are no less important to businesses than they are to individuals. Many companies have initiated IoT security protocols, and even US military researchers are getting into the act. However, inconsistent updates are only one of many, many reasons the IoT is insecure.
Consortium for Standards
A consortium of companies is taking a proactive approach to issues of IoT security. IBM and AT&T have teamed up with Symantec, Palo Alto Networks, and Trustonic to collaborate on security. AT&T has noted that the number of attackers attempting to access IoT devices over the last three years increased by 3,198-percent. This can be attributed to the increase in IoT devices, many of which are not secure.
Cesare Garlati, a security strategist of the non-profit prpl Foundation, argues that the most effective IoT standards will be those most widely accepted. Organizations often fail to collectively execute their own mandates, however, and difficulties may come if compliance with standards is only partial within each participating company. For this reason, Garlati advocates that the consortium maintains a “razor-sharp focus,” and distribute well-researched business information across industries.
Hope in Blockchain
Clearly the issue of IoT security will not go away on its own. Pursuing innovation may be the best way forward. Blockchain, the distributed, permission-based and secure database technology behind Bitcoin, offers some hope. Its public, immutable and decentralized features make the technology a viable approach in IoT use cases, though at present, scalability, security and regulation remain challenges for any application of it.
Tame the Ever-Increasing Flow of Information
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