AT&T, Nokia, IBM and others form IoT Cybersecurity Alliance

AT&T has joined forces with a host of telco giants to create a new IoT Cybersecurity Alliance to address security challenges in the burgeoning segment.

IoT certainly presents a significant opportunity for the telecoms and tech industries, though there have been sceptics who have noted the potential security challenges of the segment. For every advantage which has been bounded around, concerns over whether such an expansive perimeter can remain secure considering the number of entry points. AT&T has stated it has has seen a 3,198% increase in attackers scanning for vulnerabilities in IoT devices over the course of the last three years alone.

Alongside AT&T, the alliance will consist of IBM, Nokia, Palo Alto Networks, Symantec and Trustonic. The group now has the ambitions to expand research and raise awareness of ways to better secure the IoT ecosystem.

“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 SVP 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.”

In terms of top-line goals, the initial focus will be on four areas:

  • Expand research to address specific use cases and business challenges to get to the root of what the specific security challenges are across the value chain.
  • Dissect security problems at each layer of IoT, namely endpoint devices, connectivity, cloud, and data/application layers.
  • Make security easy to access across the entire ecosystem, as opposed to individual components.
  • Influence security standards and policies.

“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.”

While it could be seen as relatively self-serving, it is an encouraging sign. Many security critics of current technologies note that security is seen as an afterthought, with security being built onto products as opposed to in products. The retrospective view on security can be seen as a vulnerability to many technologies and products around the world.

The IoT revolution may have already started, though it is still very much in the embryonic stages. Yes, there will be a bit of playing catch-up with the products and platforms which are already on the market, but influencing security concerns before IoT hits the heights of mainstream will go some way to avoid a few of the problems which are being faced today.

Although it would not be considered more than PR rhetoric currently, security concerns are becoming more prominent, and would appear to be featuring more heavily on corporate agendas. Our sister-site, Light Reading, recently noted there has been much more of a machine learning flavour to security acquisitions in the last couple of months, which can only be a good thing.

As IoT continues to grow and penetrate more areas of our life, it is simply going to be too much for humans to oversee defensive tactics. The workload would simply be too much and varied for us to comprehend. Bearing this in mind, artificial intelligence is now a necessity not a nice-to-have in the world of security.

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