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TWiTIoT: This Week in The Internet of Things – Mo’ IoT, Mo’ Problems

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Greetings, and welcome. This week, news of industrial IoT (IIoT) growth and IoT options to come, and new research into IIoT and IoT cybersecurity risks. As always, your thoughts, reactions, and suggestions welcome. Just send a quick email to medortch@dortchonit.com. And if you aren’t already doing so, please check out “DortchOnIT’s Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Weekly.” (And if you are, subscribe – it’s free!) Thanks.

Comcast Signs More Industrial Internet of Thing Customers; AT&T Plans New IoT Network

What Happened:Comcast announced five new customers for its MachineQ IoT platform, while AT&T announced plans to build new IoT networks in the United States and Mexico.

  • In a news release, Comcast announced “the addition of several customers spanning a broad range of industries and use cases” for its MachineQ offering. MachineQ “is a scalable, B2B IoT platform that uses Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology,” according to the company.
  • Comcast’s new MachineQ customers include providers of solutions for agricultural, commercial, and municipal water metering and management, and for steam energy facilities management. They join previously signed customers in arenas ranging from asset tracking to rodent control.
  • Separately, as Gigabit Magazinereported, AT&T announced plans to “launch its own narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT) network within the US early next year.” That will be “later followed by a second launch across Mexico.” These new networks will complement the company’s existing LTE-M network. Both use low-power, wide-area (LPWA) technologies. But the LTE-M network supports “more complex capabilities such as software updates and mobility.”

What It Means:Unlike premature (and frequently misquoted) reports of Mark Twain’s death, reports of IoT growth appear not to be exaggerated. Internet of things and Industrial Internet of Things adoption is growing, and deployment options are multiplying. And vendors seem only too willing to aid and abet this prodigious growth. (For just one example, earlier this month, AT&T announced a partnership with Nokia intended to accelerate IoT deployments.) Now, all they have to do is to build robust cybersecurity into their platforms, and convince makers of compatible sensors, devices, and systems to do the same.

What You Should Do: Tread warily. Proceed with caution. Focus on identifying and prioritizing specific needs and opportunities for Internet of things technologies at your business. Then eliminate from any list of candidate solutions any options that are not sufficiently secure. (If you make or sell Internet of things devices or solutions, don’t even talk to customers or prospects about them until and unless you have a solid, credible cybersecurity message to share.)

Survey: Industrial Companies Worried About Internet of Things-Borne Threats

What Happened: Cybersecurity solution provider Kaspersky Lab released its State of Industrial Cybersecurity 2018report, based on a survey of “320 worldwide professionals with decision making power on OT [operational technology]/ICS [industrial control system] cybersecurity, as well as 12 expert interviews.”

  • In a news release, Kaspersky said “over three quarters (77%) of companies [surveyed] believe their organization is likely to become the target of a cybersecurity incident involving their industrial control networks.” Yet “48% of organizations admit they have no measures in place to detect or monitor if they have suffered an attack concerning their industrial control networks.”
  • Perhaps even more troubling, “51% of industrial companies claim that they were not affected by any cybersecurity incidents in the last year. With half of the research respondents working in the IT department, this finding suggests that IT managers may be unaware of incidents happening within their own industrial control systems – perhaps because they lack a unified approach to their organization’s overall cybersecurity.”
  • Growing awareness of and investments in cybersecurity have apparently provided only limited help. Nearly “two-thirds (64%) of companies experienced at least one conventional malware or virus attack on their ICS in the last 12 months. 30% of companies suffered a ransomware attack and a quarter (27%) had their ICS breached due to the errors and actions of employees.”
  • Increased industrial use of IoT and cloud computing technologies appears poised to increase both risks and threats. Kaspersky found that “15% of industrial organizations already use cloud solutions for SCADA [supervisory control and data acquisition] control systems, with a further 25% planning to implement these in the next 12 months.” And while “53% see realizing IoT use cases and managing connected devices as a top business priority,” “65% believe OT/ICS security risks are more likely with IoT.”

What It Means:The IIoT is poised to transform how nearly every type of ICS and OT deployment is managed and operated. Global business consultancy Accenture estimates the Industrial Internet of Thing “could add $14.2 trillion to the global economy by 2030. Arguably the biggest driver of productivity and growth in the next decade, the Industrial Internet of Things will accelerate the reinvention of sectors that account for almost two-thirds of world output.” This makes the concerns and shortcomings identified in the Kaspersky report highly significant, to the companies involved and the constituencies they serve and support.

What You Should Do:If you are an ICS and/or OT decision maker, make sure you are collaborating closely with your IT and cybersecurity colleagues when pursuing or considering IoT deployments. If you provide IT, IoT, and/or cybersecurity goods and/or services to ICS and/or OT decision makers, do whatever you can to encourage such collaboration. Successful cybersecurity attacks on ICS and OT systems, whether from unsecured Internet of Things devices or elsewhere, can be catastrophic and life-threatening.

Shameless Self-Promotion (And an Opportunity for You)

On June 28, I had the honor of joining Rob Young, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Astoundand former lead IT service management (ITSM) analyst at IDC, for a webcast. Our topic was the impact of AI and advanced automation on IT. I think it was a fun and thought-provoking 45 minutes.

In case you missed it, or want to share it with colleagues, you can register for on-demand access at https://hubs.ly/H0cz33Q0. And if you’ve got thoughts to share on the subject, let me know, here or via email to me at medortch@dortchonit.com. If I get enough fun and/or thought-provoking comments, you may see them in a future blog post right here!

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Michael Dortch

As an IT industry analyst, consultant, journalist, and marketer, Michael Dortch has been translating bits and bytes into dollars and sense for four decades. His areas of expertise include strategic content planning, development, and creation, core content execution, and social media and online community development and outreach. Michael has helped to launch new products, enable sales teams, influence influencers, and grow web site traffic, prospects, leads, and positive perceptions for companies large and small. He also enjoys cooking, eating, traveling, and singing.