The IoT needs regulation

The IoT is everywhere, from the recent news headlines on the DDOS attack on Dyn, to the high-street stores with the latest health trackers ready for Christmas. It is all around us and slowly but surely starting to encroach into our day to day lives, however is that a good thing and will the IoT succeed or fall at the first hurdle?

The Internet of Things refers to the ever-growing network of physical objects that feature an IP address for internet connectivity, and the communication that occurs between these objects and other Internet-enabled devices and systems.  Conservative estimates suggest that by 2020 over 200 billion connected sensor devices will be in use.  Gartner states that IoT product and services suppliers will generate incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion by 2020. However, consumer trust in the IoT is starting to waverdue to the recent headlines regarding the security hacks on IoT devices, and the questions over whether they are safe to allow into our day to day lives.

The question is do we really need the IoT?  The vision for IoT is promising. These devices will help in everything we do from restocking our fridge when it runs out of milk to tracking our health and contacting our doctor when ill. These connected devices will generate new types and unprecedented quantities of data regarding every minute of our lives, but this in turn will also mean an increased level of intrusion. This level of tracking our lifestyles will allow criminals to see our every move, know when we leave the house and when we return. The devices generally have poor security protection which means they are easy targets for hackers.

Who is going to fix these issues and start the slow process of rebuilding consumer trust in the IoT? There are 3 main options for the IoT industry:

  • Government regulation. There must be increased regulation if the IoT is to succeed.  Consumers and manufacturers are only focused on cheap products and not concerned about quality & security. The only way to break this cycle is for governments to increase the regulation ensuring manufacturers must meet quality and security criteria to be able to launch a device.
  • Industry trusted organisation to lend their ‘quality badges’ to IoT enabled devices. For example, consumers place a lot of trust in the Kitemark established by the BSI (British Standards Institute). For a product to have such a Kitemark a consumer would be reassured that it has been through a rigorous QA and security process to assess the device.
  • Formal structured independent testing regimes for IoT devices and services. This would enable a manufacturer to demonstrate compliance to the latest standards or IoT/internet guidelines such as the ‘BITAG IoT security and privacy recommendations’. It also means that manufacturers who decide to connect devices to the internet do not have to invest in complex testing procedures, equipment and staff.

The IoT will undoubtedly change the way we live our lives but without proper testing of those connected devices and the services they offer then the future might be frustrated by security breaches, intermittent services and device failures. The solution should be trusted kitemarks supported by independent assessment to give consumers the confidence they need to buy the devices and access those services.

Test and Verification Solutions (T&VS) IoT lab and certification process helps enable companies to ensure their products conform against the latest industry standards and QA & security testing best practices. For more information see here