Internet of Things

A More Secure IoT in 2019

With billions of software-defined (programmable and network-enabled) things already active, and a predicted steep rise in their numbers, the Internet of Things (IoT) is already here. The number of applications, use cases and projections about overall business impact of IoT is growing every year. The trends strongly indicate architectural shifts in IoT deployments. For example, a preference to edge computing and machine learning at the edge is becoming prevalent. Security and privacy of the systems and collected data will continue to be the most impactful factors towards the success of IoT. Globally, emerging privacy regulations will accelerate the improvements in security and privacy. On the other hand, emerging technologies like blockchain and newer network connectivity standards will impact IoT over a longer time horizon.

The estimated number of active IoT devices is expected to grow from the present 7 billion to 25 billion by 2025. The IoT acceleration will continue in all major areas like Industrial IoT (IIoT), smart homes, smart cities, agriculture, healthcare and connected cars. This is being driven by the ever-present demand for improved operational efficiency and better quality of life through technology use. The evolution of IoT platforms, collaborative ecosystems, choice of connectivity technologies and cheaper hardware are the growth engines for IoT adoption. The challenges for this growth include insufficient clarity of business vision around IoT, security, deployment complexities, lack of interoperability and slow adoption of emerging standards. Here are our predictions for the most influential aspects of IoT for 2019.

IoT Security

The large-scale attacks, over the years, on and enabled by vulnerable IoT devices, have made everyone pay serious attention to IoT security. Analysts estimate that the overall IoT security expenditure will grow from $1.5 billion in 2018 to $3.1 billion in 2021. Security considerations will become one of the most important and fundamental design aspects and security will improve as the industry learns from bigger and more complex deployments. The ability to remotely upgrade IoT devices will become a must-have feature as it provides a chance to fix security issues post-deployment. The increased awareness, best practices, proposed regulations and laws will give rise to compliance standards and certification in IoT security.

Edge Computing

Edge computing has become the new center of attention, especially for the Industrial IoT (IIoT). Various market research reports estimate that by 2023, the edge computing market will grow at a minimum of 34% CAGR from the current $1.5 billion. All major cloud-IoT platforms have their own seamlessly integrated edge components that are feature-rich and powerful. Analytics and machine learning at the edge will become mainstream and change the way IIoT systems are being designed, with preference to carry out most computation at the edge. The choice of hardware platforms for edge computing are expanding from low-power, low-performance units to high-power GPU systems enabling a wider range of applications. The ‘edge-first’ approach will become the most preferred approach for IoT deployments as it provides better security (data protection, privacy), mitigates the impact of network latency and reduces data transportation needs and costs.

IoT Platforms

The competition between the major and most popular general-purpose platforms (Azure IoT, AWS IoT, IBM) is intense, with nearly identical offerings and mature features such as edge computing, machine learning, streaming analytics, visualization tools, and integration with third-party ecosystems. These IoT platforms are part of their larger cloud offerings and will continue to benefit from the addition of newer features there. These platforms will become the first-choice for brown-field deployments because many customers are already using the associated cloud platforms. The IoT-specific platforms (e.g., GE Predix and SAP HANA) will face stiff challenges because of this as well as the overall pricing. The new model of ‘develop in the cloud, deploy at the edge’ will become popular for IoT especially for, but not limited to, applying machine learning on IoT data, since it requires large data sets and computational power.

IoT Connectivity

Connectivity choices in IoT are ever-expanding, with a wide variety of old and new technologies in the wireless domain (WiFi, Zigbee, ZWave, BLE, 6LoWPAN, LoRa, SigFox, LTE, 5G). The selection criteria for a given application includes aspects like range, performance, power, cost and availability. Newer technologies are being adopted slower than expected, and the bulk of deployments are still using well-established technologies like WiFi, ZigBee and BLE. The latest and upcoming entrant – 5G – may not have much impact in the next two years for IoT, because of the costs involved and lack of widespread availability. With the advent of edge computing the need for the benefits offered by 5G will be limited to some application areas, such as those requiring low-latency live streaming and remote control, e.g., drone applications.

Privacy, Blockchain and IoT

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will influence IoT significantly because of the rules and compliances around data collection, retention and deletion. A breach due to any vulnerability in the IoT deployment chain will likely lead to GDPR non-compliance. GDPR-imposed monetary penalties along with bad publicity will force manufactures and service providers to be careful about IoT security and change operational policies. Because of the multiple ecosystem partners involved in the end-to-end IoT solutions, GDPR compliance for IoT becomes a complex undertaking.

Blockchain is an important emerging technology that is expected to have positive impact on IoT solutions, and implementations tuned for various IoT applications have started appearing. In the near term blockchain’s influence on IoT will likely remain limited to more secure device lifecycle management

Maturity

Evaluate Demonstrate Incubate Saturate
Evaluate Demonstrate Incubate Proliferate Saturate
Application of Blockchain in IoT Machine Learning at the Edge Integrated ML at Edge and Cloud Edge Platforms IoT Use Cases
GDPR Impact on IoT Edge Analytics Emerging wireless connectivity technologies IIoT Deployments Applications
IoT ML in Cloud IoT Security Regulations IoT Platforms
IoT Standards

  1. Consider IoT security as the most important aspect while designing and deploying every IoT solution.
  2. Move as much functionality as possible to the edge to enhance performance, reduce costs and provide better security compliance.
  3. Ensure that there is complete clarity of expected business outcomes and technology roadmaps before embarking upon IoT projects.

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