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Why security is the key to emerging technology -- and vice versa

Over the last few years, the impact of digital technologies and platforms on organizations has amplified security concerns.

Take the continually growing internet of things. The growth of analytics and the continued expansion of IoT provides customers and businesses greater connectivity and access to data. More than 22.5 billion devices are expected to be connected to the internet by 2021 according to a report from Business Insider. However, with that comes a huge responsibility for businesses to safeguard data, which includes customers’ shopping preferences, login credentials, banking details, home addresses and more. With each new connected device comes added security risks. And, according to Gartner, nearly 20% of organizations observed at least one IoT-based attack in the past three years.

For example, drone technology is a rapidly emerging sector within IoT and the risk of hacking could not only cause a data breach, but it could also pose a major risk to public safety. If a drone’s own telemetry data is accessed, hackers could take control of it while in the air. This could place people in physical danger if the drone was purposely crashed or hijacked to carry harmful substances such as explosives or chemical agents. A hacked drone could also be used for spying through on-board cameras, or malware could be installed, enabling hackers to strip out sensitive data collected by the drone, including pictures and video.

Security is also a concern for governments that are investing in smart city infrastructure. Without adequate security, innocuous items which generally pose no threat can be transformed into something far more sinister — for example, traffic lights that tell cars and pedestrians to go at the same time or changing tracks to put a commuter train on the wrong course. It may seem far-fetched, but it actually happened in 2016 when San Francisco’s public transit system was hacked — forcing the city to allow commuters to travel for free and causing widespread disruption across the city.

Now for the good news.

While security will be a challenge, the vast amount of data generated by IoT technology will actually help researchers spot security flaws. The industry is developing new ways to protect IoT devices from increasingly sophisticated hackers, and there will be significant opportunities for those working in the IoT security space.

Using blockchain technology could reduce the number of IoT devices being put at risk by a security breach at a single point. By getting rid of a central authority in IoT networks, blockchain would enable device networks to validate and protect themselves. For example, devices in a common group could potentially stop or alert the user if asked to carry out tasks that appear unusual, such as being commandeered by hackers to carry out distributed denial-of-service attacks.

Artificial intelligence could also help speed up the process of identifying potential risks. AI is set to be so integral to cybersecurity in the future that it is estimated that the global AI security market will reach $18.2 billion by 2023, according to a recent report.

Be ready for anything

At this point, security breaches should be thought of as inevitable rather than something that can be completely avoided. As a result, the focus is shifting from prevention to resilience. Businesses must talk openly about vulnerabilities, promoting awareness and accountability. Resources that are currently focused on prevention need to be redeployed toward the timely detection of and response to potential security hacks.

The best way to approach this is a layered security method. That means security at the device level, over the air and once it gets to the network. This approach can secure the end device, secure over the air like a VPN, secure the pipe between a device and network, and then secure it once it gets onto the network.

And, just as new technology platforms have opened doors for hackers, new security platforms are being developed to combat the threat. Interactive visual walls, dashboard displays, 3D object recognition and a virtual reality experience provide a glimpse of the security capabilities that can help organizations build and monitor cybersecurity platforms, as suited to their business needs.

At Tata Communications, we recently launched two new cybersecurity response centers (CSRCs) in India. The CSRCs visualize the entire security experience so that business leaders can better understand and see the threats that they are fighting, knowing that they will be serviced with 24/7 security support, 365 days a year, to stay one step ahead of evolving cyberthreats around the world.

With emerging technological platforms like cloud computing and IoT offering more gateways to hackers, it is now more critical than ever for companies to institute holistic security platforms to deal with these threats. Only with everyone working together toward a common goal will the new technology platforms that have the power to improve our lives be used only to do good.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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