The growth of the internet of things has been something like a phenomenon, with companies investing billions of dollars in systems that aim to connect anything and everything to a network.
From smartphones and smartwatches to dishwashers and in-car entertainment systems, not to mention industrial machinery and healthcare equipment.
If things keep getting connected at this rate, pretty soon everything in the world will have only one degree of separation — or no separation at all, depending on how you look at it.
General Electric is one of the many companies which is attempting to become the dominant player in the market, with its bombastic claim that it will connect everything in the world, in industry at least.
In a report released this week, Vodafone says more than three-quarters of businesses say the IoT is “critical” to their future success.
The company based its findings on a study by Circle Research, which questioned 1,100 enterprise and public sector executives from 17 countries.
Vodafone says 48 per cent of IoT adopters are using it to support large-scale business transformation. More than a third say they already run their entire organisation on IoT. And adopters are assigning more of their IT budget to IoT than to cloud, analytics or mobile.
It adds that 63 per cent of adopters say they have seen “significant” return on investment, up from 59 per cent in 2015. And, on average, adopters are measuring a huge 20 per cent increase in key business performance indicators like revenue, cost and asset utilisation as a result of using IoT.
But as the number of connections to things increase, so do the number of security concerns.
To try and address these concerns, ARM and Symantec are among a number of companies supporting the Open Trust Protocol (OTrP), which they say would combine a secure architecture with trusted code management, using technologies proven in large scale banking and sensitive data applications on mass-market devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Marc Canel, vice president of security systems, ARM, says: “In an internet-connected world, it is imperative to establish trust between all devices and service providers.
“Operators need to trust devices their systems interact with and OTrP achieves this in a simple way. It brings e-commerce trust architectures together with a high-level protocol that can be easily integrated with any existing platform.”
Lubna Dajani, OTPA secretary and futurist, says: “The chain of trust for connected services must be based on strong digital identities for people and devices to ensure the integrity of data and applications in an open and interoperable way.
“The release of OTrP is a significant step forward and it will enable the industry to operate more efficiently by collaborating on the basics and only competing where individual value can be added.”
A number of other companies are backing the OTrP initiative, including Intercede, Solacia, Sequitur Labs, Thundersoft, Trustkernel, Verimatrix, and the global data carrier Sprint.
Dr Ron Marquardt, vice president of technology at Sprint, says: “As a wireless operator, providing a communication and data ecosystem that is safe and secure is a paramount mission.
“As the global ecosystem of connected devices and mobile applications continues to grow, security will become more challenging. OTrP offers a strong prescription for this increasing challenge with its flexibility to provision and maintain system-level root of trust within the service ecosystem.”