The Internet of Things (IoT) — both the promise of the future and the biggest vulnerability of the data age.
Collecting data about everyone and everything through IoT can create a higher resolution picture of the world. But that same picture can expose individuals’ data, potentially sacrificing privacy and security for government intel or corporate profit.
RIoT returned to Washington DC this week to dive into cybersecurity and discuss the role of IoT in the government sector. Discussion ranged from how citizen groups and civic hackers contribute in smart city solutions to how the government protects itself from cybersecurity attacks. With intelligence and diligence, it is possible to minimize the risk of hacking and deception. But government, industry and end-users (citizens) must all participate.
IoT—4th Industrial Revolution or a Cybersecurity Armageddon?
Roselle Safran keynoted the event; Safran led cybersecurity for the Executive Office of the President under the Obama administration. There are few examples of more important venues for secure IoT data than the White House.
Safran now has her own cybersecurity venture, working as entrepreneur-in-residence in DC under Lytical Ventures, and at the RIoT event, she emphasized to the audience that despite the obvious risks of IoT, the adoption of new technologies is inevitable and in fact, required. But she also shared that yes, IoT devices increase the number of threat vectors that cybersecurity experts must protect.
There are significant implications for industry practitioners who want to participate in the evolving data economy that is driven by IoT. There is a need for standardization of device identification, security, communication and data capture, and storage.
The good news – standards are moving forward. And government, industry and academic partners are working together. But technology is moving more quickly than regulation or standards. We rely on the private industry more than ever to ensure citizens are protected. Waiting on standards is not enough in the short term.
Driving Cybersecurity Discussions in DC through Partnerships
Spanalytics, a Richmond firm focused on security of the wireless link, drove north to participate in the event. Mark Nichols, CEO, sits on the board of the Bluetooth standards group that ensures that data communicated over the short-range wireless standard remains secure.
Chariot Solutions, a full-stack software development firm based in Philadelphia, rode the train south for the event.
“It is important to our clients that we are experts on the latest in security protocols and techniques”, Chariot Solutions CMO Tracey Welson-Rossman emphasized. “We work with clients across the US, and after basic functionality, the most important aspect of any new software project is securing the privacy and security of data we work with.”
M.C. Dean was a catalyst for pulling together the evening’s event. M.C. Dean addresses risk from the foundation up, designing the foundational systems that enable IoT functionality to manage military bases, hospitals, campuses, and other “places”. This functionality provides obvious operational benefits—like improved energy costs, protected IT, efficient space management—but with no lack of consideration for data security.
Public-Private Partnerships and IoT
A focus of the evening discussion was on how public-private partnerships move the industry forward more quickly. Devin Zitelman, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Washington DC Economic Partnership, emphasized how important it is for citizens and local businesses to understand that solutions start at a grass-roots, municipal level and can grow from there.
Tom Snyder, Executive Director of RIoT, elaborated, “Partnerships, whether public-private or otherwise, immediately achieve two things. One – the partnership can achieve more together than any partner can do alone. And Two – partnerships bring more voices to the table. Diversity and inclusion create stronger solutions. Partnerships bring diverse inputs to solutions, creating far more benefits than single entities could possibly create alone.”
Cybersecurity – Future is in Collaboration
Cybersecurity is clearly a risk and an ongoing issue. But there is ample evidence that experts in both the public and private sectors are addressing this risk and securing quality for citizens. The good news: significant effort is being taken on both the public and private sides of the equation. So while more work remains, with collaboration, a safe and secure future is in sight.