Securing the Internet of Things

Managing the Changing IT Landscape: Internet of Things


Everyone is predicting the rise of devices from the Internet of Things (IoT). It is amazing to see how different some analysts can be. With Gartner predicting 26 billion and IDC predicting 212 billion in just a few years, the numbers are becoming mind numbing. I’m not sure who’s right, but I do know that IoT will have far-reaching security implications on the enterprise.

In a recent blog, I covered the implications that this surge in mobile data traffic will have on IT networks, and the need to adopt a proactive approach to re-architecting the wireless access point. And since no one company will create these devices, or deploy them, the issue of maintaining security and privacy for the data moving between these devices and through the cloud are going to become more complex. It’s not too early to be thinking about the challenges this will represent for your IT organization.

Even office printers represent vulnerabilities

The topic of enterprise security was discussed at the MIT Sloan* CIO Symposium last week, which covered a range of topics like emerging threats and data protection.

Patrick Gilmore, CTO of the Markley Group, posed that office printers need the same level of attention as operating system vulnerabilities, yet most businesses don’t give them a second thought. If your printer is connected to the Web, it’s vulnerable to attack. Moreover, manufacturers generally aren’t making printers to guard against data breaches. Yet malicious access to a connected corporate printer could be catastrophic in terms of data loss.

Much like BYOD, mobile, and cloud have been disruptive forces for change in the enterprise, so will IoT—but on a much larger scale. Each new connected device must be identified and protected within the context of its unique business use case.

The need to reshape security

Most of us have seen Gartner’s prediction that the security requirements for IoT will reshape more than half of all global enterprise IT security programs by 2020. As Earl Perkins, research vice president at Gartner, explained, “This is an inflection point for security. CISOs [chief information security officers] will need to deconstruct current principles of IT security in the enterprise by reevaluating practices and processes in light of the IoT impact.”

I agree with Earl. At the Internet of Things event in London in May, Intel’s Karen Lomas talked about wearables and security and the importance of implementing an architecture that both protects and makes data accessible. With a need for standards and secure communications, Intel has taken an active role in enabling the Internet of Things with the hardware, software, tools, systems integration, and network and cloud infrastructure needed to accelerate development and deployment of solutions that deliver intelligence from thing to cloud. At the heart of this innovation is the intelligent gateway.


Access and protection are not mutually exclusive

Also like BYOD, IT organizations will not be able to fully limit device proliferation or lock down the number of connected devices and expect to maintain a good user experience. The key will be in finding that balance between both protecting and enabling data access via an open network. The Intel IT team recently hosted a webinar, “Managing the Mobility Explosion,” aimed at helping turn this around.

The consumerization of IT marches on. Will the same tools and approaches that worked for BYOD apply to the Internet of Things? I think we need to adapt, soon.


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