AT&T, IBM, Nokia form IoT Cybersecurity Alliance to tackle device threats

AT&T, IBM, Nokia form IoT Cybersecurity Alliance to tackle device threats

AT&T, IBM, Nokia form IoT Cybersecurity Alliance to tackle device threats
AT&T, IBM, Nokia form IoT Cybersecurity Alliance to tackle device threats

Industry giants AT&T, IBM, and Nokia have teamed up with Palo Alto Networks, Symantec and Trustonic to form the IoT Cybersecurity Alliance.

The new industry body has been established to combat the growing number of security challenges surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT), according to its participants.

Supposedly, the group will research and raise awareness of ways to better secure the IoT ecosystem, a problem that has been particularly pertinent in recent months following some high-profile DDoS attacks.

Related: Consumers unaware of the security risks posed by IoT devices, says report

More devices, more problems

Just this week, Gartner predicted that 8.4 billion connected “things” will be in use in 2017, an increase of 31 percent on 2016.

But with this proliferation of IoT devices comes greater opportunity for hackers searching for weak spots. AT&T said it has seen a 3,198 percent increase on the number of attacks scanning for vulnerabilities in IoT devices over the last three years.

These threats prevent business from taking advantage of the many benefits and efficiencies IoT can bring.

The Alliance members believe the key to tackling them lies in protecting all devices at the endpoint, network, cloud and application layers, and using overarching threat analytics to study the overall ecosystem, as well as designing products from the ground up using a built-in, always-on security approach.

“The explosive growth in the number of IoT devices is only expected to continue; therefore, so must the associated cybersecurity protections,” said Mo Katibeh, AT&T senior vice president of Advanced Solutions.

“Today’s businesses are connecting devices ranging from robots on factory floors to pacemakers and refrigerators. Helping these organizations stay protected requires innovation across the whole IoT ecosystem to enable sustainable growth.”

Related: Security researcher claims to unearth hacker behind IoT Mirai botnet

IoT Cybersecurity Alliance to the rescue

For the IoT Cybersecurity Alliance to create a safer IoT ecosystem, it wants to advise customers and educate the industry on the aforementioned measures.

The Alliance intends to take a vertical approach to this challenge. By working with customers in sectors like connected cars, smart cities and healthcare, it hopes to “dissect and advance” security concerns in particular use cases.

The members are also committed to working alongside policymakers to improve expertise and raise awareness of cybersecurity.

“Be it a connected car, pacemaker or coffee maker, every connected device is a potential new entry point for cyberattacks,” said AT&T chief security officer Bill O’Hern. “Yet, each device requires very different security considerations. It’s become essential for industry leaders and innovators like those in the founding members of this Alliance, to work together to help the industry find more holistic security approaches for IoT.”

Achieving the right outcomes

In comments to Internet of Business, Cesare Garlati, chief security strategist for the prpl Foundation, welcomed the formation of the Alliance, but stressed that “it’s not the size of the organizations involved that matters – the standards that work the best will become the [ones] predominantly used.

“The risk when vendors are involved is quite high, especially when they’re not running the group as a full-time job – and it mainly comes down to the ability to execute its mandates.”

Related: Blockchain: The ultimate game-changer for IoT security?