Securing That Internet of Things While Keeping it Useful

The other day I sat in on the The Cisco Security Grand Challenge webinar for the Internet of Things. I listened not because I am joining the very worth while challenge, but because I wanted to make sure I am in touch with the latest directions and concerns about the Internet of Things.

Some IoT changes to come are almost master-of- the-obvious apparent while others are so complex that almost all predictions will fail. We are standing on the verge of tremendous change – the Internet of Things is exploding – e.g. in my household we’ve grown from 5 things on the internet to over 20 in just the past two years, and projections are that within ten years +50 billion devices will be connected.

During the webinar I found that their concerns match many of mine however so that was good news. As we progress into  the new personal and business M2M universe of smart devices with smart sensors we will discover that they need to rely on being able to network both with the cloud and each other to compare notes and to gain  and share user context. They will need to do this to make intelligent decisions and recommendations for us and to power our applications to do so as well.

So how the heck do you make that secure while keeping it easy to use? How do you keep the code open, and how do you patch code in a world of critical devices like autonomous cars and pacemakers that we also cannot afford to have exploitable by hackers?

How do we keep the devices flexible and tailored to individual or business needs while also keeping them hardened? What happens if an autonomous car gets fed tire sensor data that makes it think it had a flat when it’s rolling down the freeway? How can you prevent that? What about battlefield robots, who should they trust & how is that trust established?

When your devices have to talk about you how do we keep your data private, and when we do have to share to the cloud, how do we keep it anonymized?

How do we recognize just your devices, how do we keep your cloud of things discrete from your neighbor’s cloud of things? How do we hand you the keys, but keep your neighbor locked out?

These are the very serious technical challenges of the next few years since they internet of things will have +50 billion devices connected within ten years.

There are creative solutions we can use for all of these problems. Some will undoubtedly come about through the Cisco challenge, but my recommendation is that every tech company needs to put these challenges together yesterday, not tomorrow, because the internet of things is not going to wait on you if you drag your feet.