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Why security determines success in the Internet of Things

As with any new invention, hype and expectation can overshadow practicalities. The Internet of Things (IoT) will be one of the most transformative technological trends to impact global society, perhaps since the invention of the World Wide Web. But there is a less sexy element that will underpin its success. Security.

To give some impression of the scale, 6.5 billion objects are expected to be connected to the Internet and cooperate partially without human intervention by 2015 (Stefan Ferber, Bosch Software Innovations).

The Internet of Things will undoubtedly impact every area of global affairs. As objects, data, systems and people enter into this global interconnected web, business models, communication, politics, security threats and even doing something as simple as boiling the kettle will change forever. If history has taught us anything, it is that with technological change come new security vulnerabilities. Individuals must be proactive not reactive when it comes to protecting their data.

Unfortunately there is no crystal ball. There is no way of knowing what devices we’ll be using, what our workplaces will look like, how we will get to work, the list is endless. As a result, security of information must occur at a network level and be device agnostic. Most importantly, data protection mustn’t be dismissed as unimportant or worthless. Much like in the story of the ugly duckling, those that underestimate it are soon proved wrong.

With work and other technologies mingling, fundamental methods of communication like email are likely to change. From a security perspective, change opens new and unfamiliar vulnerabilities for cyber criminals to exploit. Therefore, businesses must ensure encryption is an integral component of how information is shared. Equally, the processes have to be user-friendly, device agnostic and at a network-level if they are to succeed.

Companies need a solution that is focused solely on email security if that is the main form of communication. Gmail alone has more 900 million users. Both Facebook and Microsoft have introduced an open PGP approach. Google apps is following suit. As email threats get greater, it’s prudent to have a solution in place to handle and protect sensitive information. The businesses that wise-up the fastest and responsibly protect against the threats that lurk in our Internet-powered world will reap the benefits. Those that judge the Internet of Things on face value will sooner or later realise their mistake to the detriment of their business.

The beauty of cloud based message encryption is that it truly doesn’t matter what device you use to send the email; it is protected. Imagine sending an encrypted email from a toaster - and it being secure! Effective security will, without a doubt, enable any business welcome the benefits and opportunities of the Internet of Things, not the challenges.

The Internet of Things is a game-changer. Whether it is a blessing or a curse will be entirely determined by the participant’s understanding and commitment to data security. Like the story of the “ugly” duckling, observers must not see security protocols as worthless and disregard them, given time, they will become invaluable and the most important investment of all.

Jacob Ginsberg, Senior Director of Products at Echoworx.