Melissa Crooks

For many manufacturers and operators of IoT applications, IoT security only plays a minor role. Such thinking can have a negative effect. After all, anyone who does not consider possible damage from cyber-attacks runs the risk that the investments in IoT will not pay off in the medium term. Early awareness of cyber risks, on the other hand, increases security and strengthens the trust of partners and customers.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is expanding at a rapid pace. The analog world is increasingly networked with the digital one and all companies want to benefit from it. Around 85 percent of all companies in the DACH region rate the IoT as very relevant, according to the study “Internet of Things 2019/2020”. A correspondingly large amount of money flows into digitization projects. The risks associated with networking — such as a lack of data protection, industrial espionage or cyber-attacks — are often trivialized or even ignored.

But reservations and security concerns are justified: Cyber-attacks on IoT devices are on the rise. With their many interfaces, IoT systems already offer numerous attack surfaces — and the trend is rising. Because the higher the density of networked devices, the greater the vulnerability of each individual. In addition, the devices are often poorly maintained, rarely monitored and continuously online.

However, this risk cocktail can cost companies dearly. The Danish shipping company Maersk put the damage from a cyber-attack in 2017 at between 200 and 300 million US dollars. Blackmail software had delayed and interrupted operations for weeks.

An attack on smart plush toys from Spiral Toys also made headlines that year: hackers had put the data of 800,000 users and two million private audio messages online. The manufacturer had stored the data of its cloud-based toys in a database that was not protected by a firewall or password queries. Many stores banned the toys from their shelves and boycotted spiral toys.

Financial damage are caused as a result of a production downtime or the loss of intellectual property, reputation or even endangerment of human life: These are just three risks companies take if they do not adequately protect IoT devices or systems. This is why a Cyber Security is an investment that pays off in the long term.

Because you don’t just reduce the risks. Rather, the costs for IoT security are offset by considerable advantages. The experience that our IoT security experts make in the context of customer projects shows that operating a secure infrastructure increases the trust of partners and customers. Because they are also increasingly aware of the risks and pay attention to convincing security. In order to gain this trust and keep it in the long term, IoT security must be considered and planned from the ground up.

Retrofitting with security components in an IoT project, on the other hand, is risky and expensive. Because it torpedoes mobility, the speed of change, prevents innovations and costs time and money. In addition, the insurance companies may not pay in the event of damage.

The high complexity of IoT ecosystems makes it difficult to guarantee security right from the start if the specific specialist knowledge required is missing. Therefore, the question arises:

Is it worth it for you to build up your expertise on the subject of IoT security internally? Or does it make more sense to buy expertise?

Outsourcing IoT security has many advantages

Use of Expert Knowledge:

– The implementation is carried out by specialists for analysis, design, engineering and implementation.
– Industry-specific standards are implemented.
– Specific, long-term and up-to-date know-how: The company can gradually build up competencies and sensitize employees to the topic of IoT security.

Simpler Processes:

– Faster time-to-market through reference architectures and designs.
– The quality control takes place externally.

Optimizing Costs:

– The costs are clearly calculable thanks to the needs and project-specific reference to services.
– We can react flexibly to changes in demand.
– The company can concentrate on its core business.

Company Growth: Only With IoT Security

There are still reservations about connecting production facilities to the Internet. The biggest obstacle is the security of IoT devices, as a study by the consulting firm Bain shows. European companies are evidently particularly security-sensitive: around half of the companies surveyed from Europe see cyber security as the central problem. For the Americans, it is just under a third.

That should give manufacturers of IoT devices food for thought. In order to be successful in the market in the long term, you have to take the high security requirements of the industrial sector seriously. So far, however, as with consumer devices, priority has been given to the rapid market launch, a comprehensive range of functions and ease of use.

In order to increase customer benefits, manufacturers are increasingly integrating their own IoT solutions into their devices. In addition to optimizing the production processes using “Big Data Analytics”, “Predictive Maintenance” is a key selling point: Machines hardly ever fail, as manufacturers recognize the need for maintenance in good time thanks to the networking and, thanks to the integrated analysis and processed data, the added value of the service is shown to the customer can.

Networking machines with manufacturers for remote access brings with it new security risks. Update interfaces and remote maintenance access can create additional loopholes through which company-sensitive data can leak out and be intercepted. In addition, Industry 4.0 aims to network the entire supply chain. Through the connection with the supplier, their data are also endangered and the trust and relationship with them can be permanently damaged.

The consequences of a cyber-attack are not only fatal for the victims (your customers), but also for you as a manufacturer of IoT devices that offer gateways for such attacks. Depending on the damage incurred, you as a company will suffer a loss of reputation that will gradually cause your customers to switch to products from competitors that promise more security.

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