The Internet of Things (IoT) could crumble with disastrous consequences in the wake of a serious cyber attack, according to IoT market watchers Beecham Research.
The Cambridge based advisory group has just published a study called Evolving Secure Requirements for the Internet of Things that says we don't yet have enough attention to security in emerging IoT standards to safely manage the long life-cycles expected of many connected devices.
"We need to protect IoT devices in the field for 10 years or longer," said Professor Jon Howes, technology director at the firm, which markets itself as the only global consulting and research firm focused solely on the worldwide and rapidly growing M2M (machine-to-machine), Internet of Things and Embedded Mobile markets.
"Devices must be securely managed over their entire lifecycle, to be reset if needed and to enable remote remediation to rebuild and extend security capabilities over time," he added - while then warning that inferior IoT security could let cyber hackers wreak "immense damage."
Beecham believes work to stop this needs to begin now - and at the architectural level for both devices and systems, stretching from semiconductors through to network operators and system integrators.
Only that thorough an approach will deliver true security across the IoT field as well as protetcing interoperability, claims the paper.
The range of attack points in an Internet of Things system may be substantially larger than traditional PCs, while the complexity of ensuring multiple vendors’ systems working together will lead to a greater probability of exploits being available, added Howes.
“We have all become familiar with computer malware, but the impact of equivalent IoT attacks could be to turn off a heating system in the middle of winter or take control of other critical IoT systems, which could be potentially life threatening," he said.
"The initial steps in security for IoT are sufficient only for the near term and pressure must be applied to drive greater system robustness, ensure that interoperability is applied across the industry, and deliver standards that can be measured and certified,” added Robin Duke-Woolley, Beecham's Founder.