Last updated: 29 October 2019
Not many situations are more frustrating than seeing a problem or threat, and not being able to do anything about it, or say anything, or at least ask for help. Unfortunately, for many IoT devices, this is a regular experience.
Most IoT devices in use today, despite many being incredibly innovative, are silent objects which can’t react when most needed. And as we know, this isn’t ideal as the IoT is under regular attack from hackers looking to exploit valuable data or devices.
Consequently, it’s crucial we, as a community with a vested interest in the IoT, work to ensure our IoT devices are not only protected, but can also communicate with us when needed. When a situation changes, a device needs to be able to inform the service provider or manufacturer (or both) to alert them immediately.
This is a problem, particularly regarding poor device connectivity and security, that is already under the microscope of the GSMA, as you can see from their guidelines earlier this year (See Annex A for example cases where problematic IoT Device behavior has impacted network and device performance).
It’s clear device QoS (quality of service) must be a focus here and is intrinsically linked to a high quality of security – after all, better connectivity will help ensure any cyber-attacks/hacks are identified more quickly. This focus is needed badly – especially as IoT security has never been more important than it is today. Here are five (we could give many more) examples of why this is the case.
The world’s population is expected to eclipse 8 billion by 2025. There’ll be even more people relying on various forms of transport than today – systems across all continents will be tested to extremes. With so many lives depending on these systems, it’s essential we keep them secure. Unfortunately, not even cars are safe from cyber-attack. Hackers can already hack into certain vehicles while on a highway.
- We need to protect those most vulnerable (children)
As children’s toys become more technologically advanced and connected, they too are becoming part of the IoT. Unfortunately, even Barbie can be hacked! If we don’t ensure these types of ‘devices’ are secure and can communicate when needed, we might see our children facing a ‘Small Soldiers’ situation versus Major Chip Hazard, which nobody wants or needs.
- Medical devices
The medical world has also become intertwined with the IoT. Many essential services and devices depend on connectivity and can be exploited if not properly protected or monitored. We’ve already seen hackers kill a simulated human by turn off its pacemaker. We’ve also come to learn how a hacker can send a fatal dose to hospital drug pumps. Lives literally depend on these devices remaining secure and well-connected to the services they need.
What’s scarier than a gun? A gun with a mind of its own that can switch targets. Hackers can disable connected sniper rifles now, and even change its target. It’s hard to think of a better reason why an IoT devices should be properly secured and be given the ability to inform manufacturers when circumstances change.
With the holiday season now upon us, food is a hot topic, particularly for the IoT (and IIoT). We’re now seeing a potential radical change to the food supply chain from farm to fork including takeaway food ordering and delivery. Some delivery services are even considering bringing together Virtual and Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and self-driving robots to introduce new ways for finding, ordering and obtaining food. The wider food industry is also taking advantage of the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things), helping increase productivity. All these innovations are exciting and mouth-watering and should rightly be celebrated. However, we should bear in mind how food can become unsafe if orders are wrong (changed) or outdated. And from an IIoT perspective, entire food supplies could be put at risk if monitoring devices malfunction or become exploited by hackers.
These are just a few examples, and it doesn’t take many to see why quality of service, connectivity, and security are so important for the future of the IoT, and why devices need to be given a voice. To help ensure devices can communicate crucial messages, we’ve developed our own LinqUs IoT Quality of Service offer, designed for mobile operators to monitor the cellular connectivity of smart static and mobile objects in real time. This enables MNOs to provide their device manufacturers and IoT service providers with a clear visibility of network and connectivity performances, facilitating the measurement and enforcement of service levels.
Do you agree with our examples? Or do you think there are other reasons why IoT devices need a voice? Let us know by tweeting to us @Gemalto, or leave a comment in the section below.