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Security by design principles: shaping the future of IoT

Yehia El Amine

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IoT

The main difference between the Internet of Things (IoT) from the traditional Internet is people. 

IoT doesn’t rely on human intervention and interaction to function, but rather does so using smart sensors that collect, communicate, analyze and act based on the information it’s processing, which opens waves of value toward businesses. 

Simply put, more information creates more possibilities to create value: This is the promise of the IoT.

While this will help shape and fuel the digital revolution, in parallel, it opens the door for a plethora of risks and breaches on the cybersecurity level. 

“Not only is more data being shared through the IoT, among many more participants, but more sensitive data is being shared. As a result, the risks are exponentially greater,” a report by Deloitte highlighted. 

According to American research and advisory firm Gartner, there will be 25 billion Internet-connected things by 2020, and close to $2 trillion of economic benefit globally. That’s a lot of IoT devices and the biggest question is, can tech companies secure all these objects from threats?

As IoT slowly slips into the mainstream, with companies like Google, Cisco, IBM, Intel, and others leading the revolution, IoT will soon change the way people live, work, travel, and more.

Let’s take the simple example of a smart home. 

A garage door opener with an additional functionality of deactivating the home alarm system upon entry is a convenient add-on for the homeowner but presents itself as a weak point for someone with malicious intent. 

The broad range of connectable home devices—TVs, home thermostats, door locks, home alarms, smart home hubs, garage door openers, to name a few—creates a myriad of connection points for hackers to gain entry into IoT ecosystems, access customer information, or even penetrate manufacturers’ back-end systems.

Thus, the question poses itself as to how companies can create safer IoT products by design. 

Security by design is an approach to software and hardware where security is applied into the manufacturing and development of IoT products from the get-go and not added on using security patches. 

According to Edith Ramirez, former Chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission, there are three steps that businesses must take into consideration when manufacturing smart devices to bolster consumer privacy and security:

1. Security by Design

This means every IoT design should start with security. Giant tech firms as well as startups should incorporate security into the initial design process, while adding layers of security to protect people from the cyberattacks vis-à-vis giving them more control over the devices themselves.

2. Data minimization

To avoid security breaches, IoT manufacturers should employ different approaches to protect the device from being accessed by anyone through the Internet.

3. Consumer transparency 

IoT manufacturers should provide consumers with notice about how their data is used and shared, and then offer tools that will allow consumers to turn off certain types of information collection and sharing. 

In parallel, effort should be made to educate consumers about security so users can avoid making risky behaviors while using their IoT device.

Guidelines for safer IoT usage 

The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) released a report that details the guidelines needed to secure the entire IoT supply chain to help keep organizations protected from vulnerabilities which can arise when building connected things.

A major touch point made within the report highlights the need for cybersecurity integration into every layer of the organization, which includes engineering, management, marketing, and others, in attempts to shield the entirety of the supply chain from potential risks. 

This not only adds another layer of protection but allows cybersecurity experts to address problems and design flaws within products in the early stages of their development. 

The report echoed Ramirez’ calls for security by design since “early decisions made during the design phase usually have impactful implications on later stages, especially during maintenance,” said the report.

The ENISA also highlighted the importance of securing the supply chain of ICT products and services that need to become a prerequisite for their further adoption particularly for critical infrastructure and services. 

“Only then can we reap the benefits associated with their widespread deployment, as it happens with IoT,” said Juhan Lepassaar, Executive Director of ENISA.

The Internet of Things has moved from big idea to reality faster than most expected.

Which is why it is vital that organization optimize their manufacturing practices for IoT, since a shift in the right direction can unearth a plethora of opportunities to create and capture better value. 

This not only allows innovation to grow at a much faster rate but allows for manufacturers to make the best decision possible in offering customers the most compelling products and services. 

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Yehia is an investigative journalist and editor with extensive experience in the news industry as well as digital content creation across the board. He strives to bring the human element to his writing.

IoT

Telenor unifies its IoT services portfolio

Inside Telecom Staff

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Telenor IoT services

Norwegian telecoms provider Telenor Group announced late last week that it will be unifying its Internet of Things (IoT) services across the Nordic region and internationally, placing them under one large portfolio.

“Effective immediately, Telenor IoT will be offered from all Telenor business channels in the Nordics, and internationally by Telenor Connexion and through selected partners,” the provider said in a statement.

As a part of introducing Telenor IoT, a new operating model is being launched to leverage on Telenor’s global competency, synchronize product development, accelerate the customer facing business and improve technical support.

“In doing so, Telenor is bringing together 200 full time IoT specialists, the largest team for any Nordic IoT service provider,” the telco said. It also highlighted that the company would act as one united global IoT team with a uniform product portfolio and go-to-market strategy – bringing the best capabilities and competence to every customer.

“The new operating model reinforces our competitive edge and makes our product portfolio easier to buy for any customer searching for world class IoT operation and platform capabilities. We are also getting scale benefits on new technology investments,” Commenting on the announcement, Mats Lundquist, CEO of Telenor Connexion and manager of Telenor IoT said in the statement.

The Telenor IoT offering will be supplied by Telenor IoT specialists located in 18 countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe.

“The launch of Telenor IoT and unifying our IoT capabilities and competencies will make us better positioned to accelerate the digital future that will benefit customers, businesses, and society. The steps we are taking now is the culmination of several months of intense collaboration between colleagues in Telenor’s Nordic telco businesses, Telenor Connexion, and Telenor’s Nordic Hub,” Jukka Leinonen, Nordic EVP and Chairman of the Telenor Connexion Board said.

Telenor is considered as a big player within the IoT services space with over 17 million connected devices active in more than 190 countries. In 2019, the provider was positioned as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Managed IoT Connectivity Services, Worldwide.

Today, Telenor ranks among the top 10 IoT operators globally, and in the top 3 in Europe by volume, and is the clear market leader in the Nordics.

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E-scooters to benefit from Ericsson-Arkessa partnership

Karim Hussami

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E-scooters Ericsson Arkessa

After using the internet to keep people connected for quite some time, many devices nowadays have the capability to be connected to each other by the internet of things technology (IoT) which can work directly through a smartphone.

From small devices to cars and houses, IoT is the main driver to create a new ecosystem by having objects engineered to seamlessly communicate with each other, and especially with the user, to support all day connectivity across the ecosystem.

According to Ericsson, the number of cellular IoT connections will grow from 1.7 billion in 2020 to 5.9 billion in 2026, while the manufacturing IoT managed services segment is estimated to hold approximately 27.5% of the market share in 2026, according to Persistentmarketresearch.

New partnership for IoT connectivity

As such, Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) and Arkessa reached a deal to provide a secure, managed global connectivity solution that supports the rapid and efficient deployment of Voi e-scooter fleets around the world.

According to Ericsson, that partnership will help increase micro-mobility in cities by having global SIMs supplied by Arkessa, allowing Voi to easily provision, activate scooters and manage its fleet of connected scooters worldwide, regardless of their location.

Arkessa’s global connectivity offers Sweedish Voi the flexibility to deploy its growing fleet of e-scooters in various countries while minimizing costs and optimizing coverage.

One SIM can connect to different service providers without the need for physical replacements, offering significant cost savings in fleet management. Voi gains full global connectivity management benefits powered by Ericsson IoT Accelerator.

These IoT-enabled devices contain sensors that constantly collect and react to data, and this vast level of data can be used to unlock new levels of intelligence.

Fredrik Hjelm, CEO and co-founder of Voi, says, “We are excited to work with Arkessa to provide superior IoT connectivity in our scooters and ensure an even higher level of service for our riders and partner cities. By leveraging Arkessa’s secure and resilient global network connectivity, Voi can continue to deliver fast, reliable e-scooter services as we expand into new markets and roll out our next-generation vehicles and IoT hardware.”

Benefits of IoT scooters

In parallel, these scooters which are activated by the smartphone now ubiquitous in every country in Europe and the United States, giving citizens, tourists and locals an alternative and convenient option to move around the city.

On the other hand, the data is collected from the scooter directly  via integrated sensors which are transmitted via cellular connectivity to the systems of the companies that own them.

Information – which includes the location of each connected  bicycles and scooter, how long each ride takes, which docks need to be restocked, and which ones are full – is always available in real time.

For example, New York’s Citi Bike makes its system data publicly available and invites developers, engineers, and statisticians to use it for analysis, development, and visualization. These measures are taken for the purpose of making better decisions related to transportation and municipal infrastructures.

The idea is that the continuously streamed data collected from connected bikes and scooters will become a crucial components of a fully functional and responsive interconnected grid that can process big data      .

Enterprises are increasingly taking advantage of cellular IoT to deliver new services, derive new revenue streams and improve operational cost-efficiency.

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Tips to increase and maintain IoT smart home security

Karim Hussami

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IoT smart home security

From the thermostat and television to lights, curtains, and security systems, the Internet of things (IoT) turns any home into one connected cell controlled by the single touch of its owner.

Once a home is transformed into a smart one, all connected devices can be controlled remotely through the Internet. However, as with every technology, it is subject to various cybersecurity risks.

According to a report by Statista, the global market revenue in Smart Home technology is forecasted to reach a value of US$77,386 million in 2020, and more than 141 billion U.S. dollars by 2023.

“A global comparison reveals that most revenue is generated in the United States (US$23,328m in 2020),” the report highlighted.

Ways to improve IoT security

Before purchasing any IoT device, users should primarily research the different devices available as well as their related security level to select the safer option in terms of security and privacy.

Thus, to benefit from the efficiency of these smart devices whilst shielding them from attacks, there are several measures that should be taken by the smart homeowners:

 1- Update the software:

According to U.S.-based cybersecurity software developer Norton, software updates related to IoT devices should not be neglected and updated frequently when notified on their smartphones.

In parallel, users should manually follow up for software updates by regularly checking online for update availability and launch dates.

Taking a step backwards, homeowners should ensure the availability of security on IoT devices to begin with, since security isn’t on the manufacturers’ top priority list, as some devices are not designed with a mechanism for updating software, leading to vulnerabilities putting it under potential risk.

2- Use strong passwords:

The second most important security measure for IoT devices after software updates, according to an article published by Forbes Technology Council, is the use of the strongest authentication possible.

In other words, passwords are to be long, complex, and hard to guess.         

“To gain control of a device, the hacker needs certain information from you. Many of these instances come when default passwords or simple phrases are used,” Richard Davis, Katalyst Data Management said.

Davis recommends using a password manager and a second-factor authentication app (rather than mobile phone SMS) to control access. These will deter the drive-by hacker by increasing the amount of work they have to put into hacking you.

3- Set up the router securely:

First off, changing the routers’ default name after purchase to a unique name that cannot be traced to the user’s home address is key to preventing unauthenticated access by cybercriminals.

Likewise, using complex and long passwords, including upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers, and special characters will help secure it even further. In addition, strong encryption protocols are highly recommended to protect Wi-fi access and network security.

The highest level of encryption is currently WPA2, which will be soon succeeded by WPA3.

“Home routers are primary IoT targets for hackers. Thus, a secure router translates to a substantially more secure smart home,” Travis Goodreau, a home Security & Safety Expert at SafeHome, was quoted as saying.

Each IoT device is to have a separate login credential so that if one device is hacked, the others remain unaffected. A password manager tool can be used to store the passwords for all the devices since there can be many passwords, one for each device, and easily forgotten users.

In parallel to that, a separate network is to be set up for IoT devices, granting sole access to the homeowner, to add an extra layer of security, whilst giving access to other networks for family, friends, and visitor use.

4- Install a next generation firewall:

The traditional firewall system may not be sufficient to secure IoT devices from cyberattacks, thus, the introduction of next generation firewall – which is an integrated platform that combines the traditional firewall with other functionalities such as virtual private network (VPN), malware protection and intrusion prevention system (IPS). 

Although next generation firewalls are quite expensive, having the right security measures in place is worth their weight in gold.

The threat of cyberattacks on digital homes is on the rise, and the importance of safeguarding smart home security is increasing as consumers acquire more developed IoT devices, and become even more connected.

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