There’s a lot of hype these days about the internet of things. The current dialogue on the IoT often focuses on the hardware device. However, the internet of things has another layer that includes the internet of shared services and shared data. This creates new, unforeseen risk to businesses when interlocking networks share an interdependence on public connectivity. Industrial IoT (IIoT) technologies will make companies infinitely more efficient and adaptive, but also extremely more vulnerable.
I had an opportunity to speak about the IIoT at Mobile World Congress this week, when I took part in a session called “IoT Security & the Blockchain.” The panel event included leaders from Cisco, Microsoft, and Qualcomm, among others, to discuss how the mobile industry can securely adopt IoT technologies and services, despite the risks that come with the complexity and volume of today’s connected devices.
I focused on the catastrophic risk, and potential systemic risk, that many companies expose themselves to by relying on the public internet. While we often hear about security hacks or breaches, a catastrophic risk is one that can cause a total failure of the business. And in the case of the IIoT, this risk reaches higher levels of catastrophic risk when fleets of devices or mission-critical “units” are interconnected.
The current paradox of the public internet is a challenging one. Although the public internet has allowed us to create a connected world, it was never designed to be utilized as a secure environment to underpin billions, or trillions, of critical transactions. It’s amazing the public internet has been able to carry us this far, and while it has worked for a virtual, digital world, businesses may start wondering whether it is the safest, or most appropriate vehicle, for real-world IoT applications. There are vulnerabilities in the current system.
In recent years, for example, we experienced unprecedented distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) malware attacks on an unforeseen scale. Attacks have impacted business web servers worldwide, including some of the largest banks, retailers, media companies, social networks, and news outlets, creating a massive market dedicated to cybersecurity.
In fact, according to Cybersecurity Ventures, cybersecurity spending is projected to exceed $1 trillion from 2017 to 2021, and cybercrime damages are expected to reach $6 trillion a year by 2021.
The X factor here is the IIoT, which will expand the breadth and depth of our connectivity, the number of transactions, and the demand for safe and secure networks. Data is the currency that will fuel the value of these new transactions and services, and it’s imperative that this data is treated with the respect it deserves. It needs to be private, and it needs to be secure.
The central question becomes this: Should global financial transactions, mission-critical infrastructure, sensitive business and personal data, vital public services, and mass transit systems be built on a public internet that was never conceived for this level of data load and security?
At Syniverse, we believe the use of a private, isolated network is the answer to protecting and authenticating clients in our digital future. The next IIoT wave offers opportunity, but also greater levels of risk when employing a public internet increasingly vulnerable to cyberattack. This network can be utilized to minimize business risk by running completely independently from the public internet and allowing a new level of attribution – knowing not just the rights and privileges of the devices accessing the network, but also the humans and machines behind those activities.
With the public internet presenting more catastrophic risk to companies, businesses will need to protect and authenticate their data with the use of a private, isolated network.
It was a privilege to share Syniverse’s current view at Mobile World Congress, as we continue to look more closely at challenges in the evolving landscape and determine the best path forward to better serve our customers.
Erin Linch is a former Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategy at Syniverse.