Analyst: In ‘Internet of Things,’ security often takes a backseat to innovation

Technologists’ vision of the “Internet of Things” — smartphones, appliances, cars and other devices transmitting data wirelessly — creates a need for secure, protected networks to facilitate that communication, one analyst says.

A handful of tech companies have released software dedicated to protecting the Internet of Things. For instance, this week Verizon released a cloud-based software that verifies device identities before allowing them to access networks.

But security concerns often take a backseat to excitement about the potential for devices to be constantly communicating, said Forrester analyst Andrew Rose, who specializes in security. Many of the tech companies developing “new, cool, groovy things” to function in the Internet of Things are more concerned about quickly gaining market share than securing their products, Rose said. “Security is a secondary conversation after function.”

The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday held a public workshop in Washington to help consumers protect themselves against Internet of Things network breaches. Attendees were advised to keep their devices, Internet cameras and routers password protected, for instance.

But tech companies will need to bolster their own devices with network protection, Rose said, noting that chip manufacturer ARM, which builds chips for devices in the Internet of Things, has made significant investments in security at the chip level.

When consumers are able to access more complex electronics — cars or pacemakers, for instance, security breaches “won’t be about data anymore, it’ll be about safety,” Rose said. “The worst case scenarios are pretty limitless.”

Mohana Ravindranath covers IT and small business for the Washington Post and its weekly Capital Business publication.
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