Telcos, vendors, and IT companies form IoT Cybersecurity Alliance

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/kizilkayaphotos)

Telcos, vendors, and IT companies are partnering up to form the IoT Cybersecurity Alliance and help ensure devices are protected from growing threats. 

Heading the alliance is US telecommunications giant AT&T, who reports it has witnessed a staggering 3,198% increase in attackers scanning for vulnerabilities in IoT devices over the past three years. 

Where there are many devices, there are hackers looking to exploit them. There’s a common misconception in the operating system world that Windows is less secure than Mac when often it’s due to attackers spending more time seeking vulnerabilities in the most widespread devices. 

"The explosive growth in the number of IoT devices is only expected to continue; therefore, so must the associated cybersecurity protections," said Mo Katibeh, AT&T senior vice president of Advanced Solutions. "Today's businesses are connecting devices ranging from robots on factory floors to pacemakers and refrigerators. Helping these organizations stay protected requires innovation across the whole IoT ecosystem to enable sustainable growth." 

As highlighted by Katibeh, the growth of IoT devices is phenomenal, and only set to accelerate over the coming years according to analysts such as Gartner. Last year’s Mirai botnet attacks took advantage of IoT device vulnerabilities to carry out the largest DDoS attacks in history and caused major disruption which businesses and their customers do not want to see repeated. 

Specifically, goals of the IoT Cybersecurity Alliance are to: 

  • Collaborate and research security challenges of IoT across verticals and use cases such as Connected Car, Industrial, Smart Cities and Healthcare. The IoT Cybersecurity Alliance will take use cases or business challenges in IoT cybersecurity to dissect and advance security concerns and identify ways to implement security across the value chain. 

  • Dissect and solve for IoT security problems at every critical layer of security. These include the endpoint, connectivity, cloud, and data/application layers. This Alliance includes experts at each of these layers to help educate businesses and consumers on how to protect their connections. 

  • Make security easy to access across the ecosystem. Security needs to exist across the value chain. Users will benefit from innovative IoT services and infrastructures that can withstand the ever-evolving threat landscape. 

  • Influence security standards and policies. Using each group member's leadership and expertise will raise awareness of cybersecurity. It will engage regularly with policymakers and other organizations. IoT offers tremendous benefits and efficiencies to businesses, but security concerns often prevent businesses from adopting these emerging technologies. IoT Cybersecurity Alliance members will help the industry maximize the advantages of IoT while educating about how to keep companies and consumers more secure. 

Alliance members believe the key to IoT security lies in protecting all devices at the endpoint, network, cloud, and application layer, and using overarching threat analytics to study the overall ecosystem and design products with a built-in, always-on security approach. 

"Be it a connected car, pacemaker or coffee maker, every connected device is a potential new entry point for cyberattacks," said AT&T Chief Security Officer Bill O'Hern. "Yet, each device requires very different security considerations. It's become essential for industry leaders and innovators like those in the founding members of this Alliance, to work together to help the industry find more holistic security approaches for IoT." 

Leading companies joining AT&T in the IoT Cybersecurity Alliance include Nokia, IBM, Palo Alto Networks, Symantec, and Trustonic. According to ABI Research, managed security service providers will see a fivefold increase in revenues between now and 2021 to $11 billion, so there’s likely more than just goodwill in the plans of these companies. 

What are your thoughts on the IoT security alliance? Let us know in the comments. 

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