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IoT faces implementation, security concerns

Executives working with the internet of things are most concerned about execution, cybersecurity and initial purchase costs, according to a survey by IoT World 2019 ahead of its mid-May conference.

The survey, titled “What’s Keeping IoT Executives up at Night in 2019,” canvassed 100-plus IoT leaders in various sectors, including government, health care, transportation and energy.

Results show that implementation and security are the top challenges to IoT at 34% and 25%, respectively. “These top two concerns -- implementation and security -- go hand in hand,” the report stated. “Before any enterprise can implement new IoT technology, companies must do their due diligence on potential security risks, their staff’s readiness to support the new technology and how to properly deploy it.”

To secure IoT networks, 45% of respondents said they’re deploying IoT devices on a dedicated network, and a nearly equal number said they are adding internal training systems for their workforce to improve the devices’ efficacy and reduce vulnerability. Other security measures include regularly updating firmware and software, ensuring that physical access doesn’t make them vulnerable to hacking, deploying encryption and shutting off devices that aren’t in use.

“We’re pleased to see executives aren’t simply being overwhelmed by the IoT security challenge and recognize that often the difference between being compromised and being secure is having followed a checklist of best practices by making sure every device has the latest software updates,” Zach Butler, director and portfolio manager at IoT World Series, wrote in an email to GCN.

Blockchain is another security measure IoT leaders are considering, although opinions there are split. Although 29% of respondents said they don’t see a benefit to it, the same percentage said the technology boosts IoT security. Others said they rely on IoT architectures that use centralized servers to collect and store data will sync with other ledgers to maintain a secure copy of the truth.

There’s more agreement about the potential for the 5G network to boost IoT. Forty-one percent of respondents said they would put IoT devices on a 5G network if it were available this year, 37% said they will take a wait-and-see approach and 22% said they don’t rely on wireless networks for IoT.

Because deployment of IoT is rapidly expanding -- Cisco predicts 50 billion internet-connected devices by 2020 -- survey respondents said they are turning their attention to training and hiring. Specifically, 46% of respondents said they are internally training their entire workforce, while 64% plan on training current employees for new technical roles and 63% plan to hire new workers.

"We were surprised and pleased to see that upskilling existing staff to manage IoT applications was slightly more popular than bringing in brand new talent,” Butler said. "This is the right approach as there’s a technical skills shortage in this area and the skills will only become more in demand," he said. "The more companies can do to help improve their employees’ skillsets in this area the better."

Although the report doesn’t delve into the third common concern – initial purchase costs – Butler had some thoughts about its rank on the list of concerns.

“The short-term [return on investment] might be in doubt, but long-term ROI is entirely attainable if IoT deployment is handled directly, because the ability to collect, process and analyze such vast quantities of customer and system data is so valuable,” he said. “Organizations are more concerned about making sure the technology is implemented properly and securely, considering this will determine whether their IoT implementation is a success or a failure.”

About the Author

Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.

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