It’s a funny tradition of the Digital Age: With each breakthrough technology that comes about, the fanfare eventually makes way for concern, as we discover — together — the risks and flaws.
But this learning stage comes with an excitement of its own, surrounding our efforts to solve the problem. It’s happening this moment in one of the most red-hot spaces in tech: the Internet of Things (IoT).
For the past decade, IoT devices trickled into our homes and workplaces, but without a firm security architecture. Demand for these products has been as high as any tech movement in recent memory, causing vendors to rush solutions to market and businesses to implement IoT strategies without fully understanding the potential vulnerabilities. Or, in some cases, moving forward despite them.
“A lot of the manufacturing behind IoT devices today feels like the Gold Rush … everyone wants to get there in a hurry,” said John Cook, senior director of product management at Symantec, at the 2018 RSA conference. “You effectively have people staking out a claim in the area without further thought to security.”
Today’s vendors are now working to correct the mistakes of “IoT 1.0,” which has loosed billions of unsecured (or at least under-secured) devices on the world. While developers are crafting the next generation of devices with more thorough security features, a number of startups are also pushing IoT security forward, to help businesses safeguard their systems already in place and ensure future investments are well protected.
As our homes, offices, and even our roadways go all-in on IoT, all eyes will soon be on the IoT security industry, which cannot move too quickly. As Wired puts it, “Connected devices are more secure than ever. That’s still not nearly enough.” Malware and cybercrime are already causing widespread issues, and as the IoT swells in scope, so do the dangers.
City energy systems and power plants are just two examples where an IoT cyberattack could spell large-scale trouble. The World Economic Forum estimates that a single takedown of a cloud provider could result in up to $120 billion in economic damages, and IoT infrastructures create more entry points for “bad actors” in cybercrime. A lot more.
The IoT is a runaway train, and these inherent risks have not slowed it in the slightest. Business spending on IoT reached nearly $1 trillion 2017, and 86% of enterprise companies are increasing their IoT investment this year. According to one study, the estimated 8 billion connected devices in 2019 will become 14 billion by 2024.
With this urgent need in the tech sector, startups are rushing into the space, investors in tow. Each day brings news of another funding round or product rollout. The resistance is alive and well, and if these fast-moving startups have anything to do with it, the future of IoT will be a safe one.
Some recent examples include:
- Armis, an “agentless device security” platform based out of Palo Alto, raised $65 million in April 2019, after a year of 700% growth in annual revenue.
- Firedom, a tailormade IoT solutions provider with offices in Tel Aviv and New York, raised $10 million in October with a Series A.
- Also out of Israel, VDOO raised $32 million in April to grow its platform that identifies and fixes vulnerabilities in IoT devices.
- San Francisco-based Particle, an all-in-one IoT platform that includes encryption and security, just recently raised $40 million in a Series C.
This emerging space is poised for growth that is fitting of the IoT trend, and such growth will be necessary for securing the billions of connected devices strewn about and those still to come.
Cybercrime is an unfortunate symptom of these digital times, one that will only continue to worsen with IoT and whatever innovation comes next. But as the IoT security market shows, necessity is the mother of invention, and there’s something to appreciate about coming together to solve a problem.
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