IoT Solutions – Where are we heading next?

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IoT concept has permeated into the world of business rather quickly. Like it or not, there is a requirement of IoT technology across sectors in more ways than assumed. Take for example – Industrial, Manufacturing, and Transportation to name just a few, these sectors have been using IoT devices and technology successfully. As per Gartner report, there are an estimated 6.5 billion IoT connected devices (2016) and this figure is set to touch 20.1 billion by year 2020. More and more industries are slowly embracing IoT in a move to gain on operational efficiencies and attain a competitive edge.

While all this calls for a celebration, there is of course, the biggest of all concerns – IoT Security!

As much as we embrace the IoT concept, we cannot forget that IoT security is a major concern even as we speak. Recent DDOS attacks have shown the world that IoT, bereft of tight security is more bane than boon.

Let’s understand the pluses and the minuses of IoT as it stamps its mark on various sectors –

The Positives –An amazing set of benefits

The advent of technology has created not just smarter solutions but smarter customers; customers are much more aware and knowledgeable now. Technology has also created a level playing field for newcomer companies and the level of competition has moved up a few notches higher. A combination of smarter consumers and tighter competition has prompted companies to function in a much more robust and efficient manner and here is where IoT plays a key role.

Deployed IoT solutions are proving a better bet as far as enhancing operations and increasing efficiencies are concerned. In manufacturing sector, IoT devices and sensors are playing a key role in areas of Warehousing, Logistics, and Transportation. Companies are benefiting through savings on time, money, and efforts as functional areas like Supply Chain and Logistics are getting more robust and reliable.

Health care industry has benefited significantly through deployment of IoT technology. The combination of IoT devices and applications is helping people in the healthcare ecosystem interact and coordinate better, thus ensuring a much more connected and streamlined healthcare ecosystem. This in turn, is helping decrease costs and enhance patient treatment and care.

Governments too have shown keen interest in IoT based solutions in a bid to develop better infrastructure, civic facilities and smart cities laden with smarter solutions. IoT devices are being deployed on street lighting to enhance performance. Infrastructure needs and repairs can be carried out with much ease, all thanks to IoT devices which keep civic authorities informed on utilities, such as electricity lines, telephone lines, water pipes,and drainage systems. Another area where IoT devices play a key role is Parking spaces. With urbanization pushing the vehicle numbers upwards, there is a huge constraint for parking space. Smart parking with the help of IoT devices helps by providing idea available parking spaces in real- time.

The Concern(s) – where we need to improve on

In the year 2016, Dyn, a domain system and infrastructure company, was attacked by “Mirai botnet’’ resulting in some big companies like – Netflix, Twitter, Spotify, experience serious outages. This incident raised an alarm and gave a glimpse of what the lack of a robust IoT security process can result in.

As we deploy more IoT deviceswe are knowingly or unknowingly opening up the IoT space for more attacks. In simple terms – all a hacker or a cyber-criminal needs, is just one vulnerable device to further attack others. Since all IoT devices are inter-connected via internet as platform, it becomes that much easier to penetrate and attack.

While growing number of IoT devices signals a growing need and dependency on the technology, it also shares a grave concern – higher number of devices means larger attack surface area for hackers! This network of inter-connected devices becomes more vulnerable as more devices get added.

The problem is – there are no concrete measures and standards set for an IoT security process, as yet. Another issue is that IoT security solution requires the involvement of more than one stakeholder, from – device manufacturers to software application providers to final users. All of these stakeholders have to be on the same page and need to seriously engage to curtail vulnerabilities and enhance security.

What is the Solution?

Right now, each stake holder works in silos and is not entirely connected or coherent in approach towards IoT security. Device manufacturers have to keep IoT security in mind before they build the devices and take appropriate testing measures. Software applications providers should ensure stable and reliable software to decrease vulnerabilities and sustain attacks. End users, be it individuals or enterprises should follow basic security protocols and measures to ensure device security.

Most importantly, respective industries should frame strict guidelines across all stakeholders to ensure a robust IoT security process. Governments also need to a play a key role in bringing a common security framework for overall functioning of IoT process. Only when everyone involved in the process is aware and adheres strictly to guidelines and standards will IoT security be enhanced.

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