In London on Wednesday more than thirty tech companies came together to launch the Internet of Things Security Foundation (IoTSF). And it’s about time.
We’ve kept a pretty close eye on security matters when it comes to the Internet of Things, because data security has long been overlooked.
Data has enormous potential and huge utility within the advertising industry, but that can only continue if people feel that giving and gathering data is trustworthy and worthwhile.
And as we have seen frequently in the news, big online names have failed to protect user data time and time again.
The IoTSF aims to educate members about security when it comes to connected devices, advocating for a security conscious collective. Big names like Vodafone and BT have joined together with firms from across the industry to combat the issue.
How will they do that?
They want to educate the tech industry into a security-first approach. The question will become “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could do this without jeopardizing highly sensitive personal data?” as opposed to the “Ooh, what if?!” culture that pervades the landscape of connected gadgets at the moment.
High profile security lapses such as the celebrity iCloud leak and unsecured baby monitors are a signal of a much deeper problem: connected devices just aren’t made with security in mind.
And it shows.
One study in August 2014 showed an average of 25 security weaknesses per IoT device. Unecessary data collection, vulnerable interfaces, unencrypted data, dodgy authorization procedures and software were among the main potential data leaks on the devices tested by HP.
The problem was first brought to the industry’s attention during SXSW 2014 when everybody from Tim Berners Lee to Edward Snowden pleaded with the tech industry to please consider taking data privacy seriously.
It seems, at last, that a way to do that reasonably has appeared.
John Moor, from the NMI industry group for UK chip makers helped launch the forum. He told the BBC: “We need to be careful because if we are not, then we could be sleepwalking into some big problems.”
The main problem (purely from a brand’s perspective) is trust. 86% of people are more likely to use a brand they trust to use their data responsibly. If tech brands are proved to be careless with user data they could find themselves with fewer and fewer users.
Moor added, “[The Internet of Things is] a bit like the aviation industry – when it began, it had to reassure people it was safe to fly…”We have to do the same and help people realise it is safe to connect.”