Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Wednesday, September 28, 2016
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Security, New Analytics Tools Top IoT To-Do List 

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Bulletproof security and new data analytics head a list of emerging Internet of Things technologies seen as unlocking the promise of the construct over the next several years.

In an IoT forecast extending over the next two years, market researcher Gartner noted that security technologies would be critical for shielding IoT platforms and devices. Along with traditional information attacks, IoT sensors may also be subject to tampering. Other security threats include impersonating "things" or "denial-of-sleep" attacks designed to bring down sensor networks by draining batteries.

Gartner noted that security risks would be heightened since IoT networks would likely use relatively simple embedded processors and operating systems that are currently unable to support required security measures.

"Security solutions are currently fragmented and involve multiple vendors," noted Gartner analyst Nick Jones. "New threats will emerge through 2021 as hackers find new ways to attack IoT devices and protocols, so long-lived 'things' may need updatable hardware and software to adapt during their life span."

The intersection of IoT with big data also creates new challenges and security concerns. The market analyst stressed that emerging platforms would require new analytics tools and algorithms. As data volumes soar, "the needs of the IoT may diverge further from traditional analytics," Gartner said.

Other observers note that IoT and database security are also emerging as issues as more sensitive data moves to the cloud. Another survey released earlier this week by enterprise data security vendor Vormetric and 451 Research found that one-third of respondents are accessing sensitive data via IoT deployments.

"IoT promises to present a security hurdle of epic proportions," warned Garrett Bekker, senior analyst at 451 Research. "Given the vast amounts of data that could theoretically be generated by IoT devices and platforms, much of it sensitive in nature, enterprises would be well served to develop corporate policies that clearly delineate what will be collected, who will have access, how the data is used and how long it will be retained."

Encryption technologies are widely seen as critical to securing IoT communications.

Meanwhile, other IoT networking and management issues also loom. New tools will be needed to monitor millions of connected devices on a single network, update software and firmware while providing physical and security management.

Low-power networks, both short range and wide area, also will be needed along with processors and lightweight operating systems geared to IoT applications. Gartner noted that traditional operating systems and fast processors are simply too power-hungry for current IoT networks. The market researcher added that current low-power wide-area networks are based on proprietary technologies. Emerging standards such as "narrowband IoT" will likely dominant in the next few years, it predicted.

Indeed, IoT industry standardizations efforts have been gaining momentum in areas like vendor interoperability. For example, the Open Connectivity Foundation announced last week seeks to scale the emerging IoT ecosystem by including a broader array of device and equipment manufacturers. The goal is to create an open IoT interoperability spec that would allow a "range of consumer, enterprise and embedded devices and sensors from a variety of manufacturers [to] securely and seamlessly interact with one another," the group said.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 25 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as Executive Editor for Electronic Engineering Times.

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