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Why security will be the key to the longevity of the Internet of Things

by Phil Beecher, President, The Wi-SUN Alliance

It’s just a week before this year’s DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition kicks off in San Antonio, Texas. Attended by experts in all aspects of the utilities industry, the event attracts thousands of delegates from all over the world looking to network, learn and discuss what’s next in power distribution and transmission.

Wi-SUN will be making its presence felt at the event, so do stop by booth no. 2861 to hear more about the progress we are making with the Field Area Network (FAN) Profile and certification program as we continue to work rigorously towards the introduction of FAN certified products later this year.

We will also be co-hosting a ‘lunch and learn’ event with new identity and security partner GlobalSign on Wednesday January 24, where alongside other security experts, we will explain new methods and technology available for end-to-end wireless security for utilities, smart cities and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Nowhere is security more relevant right now than in the Internet of Things – and this year’s conference agenda at DistribuTECH reflects this, with plenty of focus on security, and sessions covering securing SCADA systems, data security and regulatory compliance, mobility and security, and much more.

Speed, flexibility, cost saving and improved reliability are just some of the many benefits that IoT networks deliver, but with these benefits come increased risk of vulnerabilities to be exploited by hackers. Recent global research from Wi-SUN Alliance highlights that the majority of respondents see security as a barrier to IoT adoption. For this reason any organization embarking on an IoT project must take time to understand their requirements and ensure a robust security strategy is central to any network deployment.

Careful consideration should be given to each of the following five areas:

  1. Threat assessment – security should be integrated across all products and solutions to gain a better understanding of the threat landscape to thwart attacks and improve their ability to detect security breaches and reduce damage.
  2. Certificate-based authentication
    All devices should include certificate-based authentication, which is similar to a biometric passport and verifies that devices have not been tampered with or reprogrammed.
  3. The risk to critical infrastructure applications such as distribution automation and traffic management means that organizations must shoulder the responsibility for developing a strategy to manage risk.
  4. Standards based interoperability
    Creating a standardized ecosystem where devices and developers can communicate and work together incorporating robust security should be at the heart of development and design.
  5. Education
    Organizations must understand the risk that connected devices present and strengthen their defences accordingly. They must also implement policies and restrictions and educate both employees and consumers as to how they can protect themselves.

A connected world may be just around the corner, but the security risk it poses is a very real one. Organizations must start off on the right foot and make security central to their IoT strategy in order to realise the long-term benefits that IoT offers at minimal risk.

DistribuTECH takes place on January 23-25 2018 at the Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. The Wi-SUN Alliance will be on booth no. 2861. 

For more information and to register for the Wi-SUN and GlobalSign lunch and learn at 10.30am on Weds January 24, visit here.

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