The Internet of Things will drive digital transformation across industries if we take steps to protect it
More and more business leaders are realising the benefits of connected technologies by using the data that is being gathered by smart devices to optimise their operations. And yet the increase in adoption in individual organisations and even sectors is not what makes the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) exciting.
The power of the IoT is in connecting billions of devices across all aspects of society, from our homes to our workplaces to our streets, because the intelligence that it will enable will be life-changing. The possibilities for innovators are almost endless, including running businesses with greater environmental efficiency, working more productively, making cities cleaner and safer, and monitoring medical conditions closer than ever before. The future looks exciting – but security cannot be optional.
Why security matters
People rely on technology and the data it generates, but many of the devices we interact with on a daily basis have not been designed with security in mind. Consider the implications of that: would you want to install a smart door lock that can only be trusted 95 per cent of the time? Or find that a weakness in a connected lightbulb in your office building could let hackers into your entire network?
These implications hold back future growth and market potential, as innovators need to consider the liability for services that are hacked, the damage to their brand and the impact on end-users. The potential impact of insecurity extends even further. Market growth is impacted by levels of consumer trust, and if the IoT is perceived by individuals and organisations as being susceptible to cyberattack, investment may be delayed or, in the worst case, its potential may never be realised.
The electronics industry: leading by example
We’ve unfortunately had a slow and fragmented start with IoT security, which has meant that many companies have not realised they have a responsibility when it comes to creating secure devices. Fortunately, things are beginning to change: in a recent survey of more than 600 technology decision makers by PSA Certified, we found that 90 per cent now believe IoT device security is important to their company both today and for five years’ time. Further, 85 per cent would be interested in industry collaboration to improve IoT security.
However, the challenge for device makers is that security can be complex, costly and time-consuming. In fact, when thinking about security, 42 per cent cited upfront costs as a top issue. This issue is multiplied by the changing regulatory landscape, with 48 per cent of decision makers believing that the fragmentation of standards and regulation is a top challenge.
To address these concerns, companies from across the electronics industry have joined forces to support the development of a common security framework and assurance scheme. PSA Certified helps device makers put security at the heart of a device by drawing on the knowledge and experience of colleagues from across the ecosystem. We’ve worked hard with our partners to create some key deliverables, which include free guidance, reference open-source software and certified components that have been independently assessed as being secure. It is also underpinned by a multi-level certification programme that provides evidence of manufacturers’ compliance with a security baseline and gives businesses and consumers certainty over the steps that have been taken to keep their data safe.
PSA Certified’s founders have focused their attention on promoting an industry-wide approach to security, uniting the ecosystem to collaborate together and moving in a common direction, which is something we’ve not achieved before. If more organisations made a commitment to IoT security, the benefits would be seen not only by the industry but by society as a whole.
IoT product developers will have to consider security from the outset if we are to achieve that. Here too, change is on the horizon. 93 per cent of technology decision makers now believe that security can differentiate their products from competitive offerings, with 82 per cent prepared to spend continuously on security tools and resources.
Perhaps we are finally starting to see securing the IoT as an unmissable opportunity?
David Maidment is the Director of Secure Devices Ecosystem at Arm. To find out more about the industry’s views on, and approach to, IoT security download the PSA Certified Security Report 2021, Bridging the Gap here.