Major security breaches make big headlines, and systems security is becoming increasingly important every day in the Internet of Things. I’m pleased to welcome Jeff Marek, Director of Engineering, Application-Ready Platforms at Intel, who has spent the better part of the last 20 years creating business and technology solutions that work in the real world—check out Jeff’s informative and realistic post below and let me know what you think. ~ Terri Blake
Alongside the technical marvels and business innovation made possible by the Internet of Things (IoT), significant investments are being made that show just how valuable the IoT marketplace can be. Earlier this year, Google bought Nest for a whopping $3.2 billion; and given that enormous investment, it’s clear that the “home” is yet another important frontier in the battle for IoT market share. But as systems designers and developers race to become the next Nest, they risk opening up vulnerabilities that can potentially be exploited in new, unforeseen ways.
Today’s low-power platforms and powerful processors are accelerating design cycles for IoT systems, but the real driver for IoT is connected devices. Think about tablets for a moment. Nobody cared much about early generations of tablets until they could be connected full-time to the cloud. The same will hold true for the plethora of edge devices in consumer, enterprise, and industrial environments. To generate the most value for our economy and society, these devices must be connected and share data, and change their behavior based on analyzing that data. That opens the door to significant information security concerns that must be resolved with careful consideration and planning, so we can confidently trust and control IoT devices and the data they generate.
By 2020, there will be as many as 30 billion devices connected to the cloud. As the sheer number of connected devices grows, we can reasonably predict an increased opportunity for malicious attacks, data breaches, and theft. And where there is money to be made in attacking these devices and systems of systems, the threat grows even stronger. But should we care about security for seemingly innocuous things like thermostats? Frankly, the ability of hackers to control one thermostat doesn’t mean much. But imagine if a hacker powered up 10,000 units during peak power usage in an urban area. That could lead to power loss in a large metropolitan area until the threat could be identified, isolated, and neutralized.
While the maintenance of end-to-end system security is a challenge at all points, the computing industry has over 25 years of experience securing the client/server computing model. The same can’t be said for the exploding number of edge devices, many experiencing connectivity for the first time and for which traditional client/server security solutions don’t scale. Another challenge is maintaining security in situations where a hacker can physically touch an edge device in the field.
While security might be one of the least understood aspects of the Internet of Things, it’s of critical importance now and in the future. And developers who understand this will have a clear advantage.
Intel is playing a critical role here by simplifying the process to build in security for devices, applications, and data from the start. For example, Intel® Gateway Solutions provide integrated, validated hardware and software building blocks to connect legacy and new systems, and enable seamless and secure data flow between edge devices and the cloud. Grab a development kit and seal off potential attack vectors on your next IoT project.