Securing Connectivity for an infinite set of devices and apps

Interview Norbert Muhrer Gemalto

One attribute absolutely essential for any relationship – commercial or otherwise – is trust. Trust in turn relies on security – and imposing appropriate levels of security across an increasingly complex and interconnected environment requires a broad set of skills and tools. Norbert Muhrer, senior vice president of M2M at digital security company Gemalto, recently shared his opinion on these issues with M2M Now.

M2M Now: As a participant in Mobile World Congress 2015, which gathers industry leaders, visionaries and innovators, what are your hopes for this year’s conference?

Norbert Muhrer: We’re sure to see a focus on the evolving ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) and a flurry of related innovations. As mobility and connectivity to all forms of sensors expands and data is everywhere, the industry is taking a more serious look at security and the importance of designing and implementing end-to-end security architectures. We hope the industry understands how critical it is to move open architectures towards being secure IoT solutions. We also hope the show inspires continued innovation and passion for the enormous benefits the IoT is bringing to the world.

M2M Now: How would you describe the current wireless connectivity scene?

NM: The new Industrial Revolution has arrived and these are exciting times! Wireless connectivity has moved beyond smartphones, computers and enterprise applications to encompass virtually everything – from connected cars and smart meters to mHealth medical devices, wearables, smart home appliances and much more. IoT connections are expected to reach 2.1bn in the next five years growing at a 36 percent annual growth rate according to Analysys Mason. We are heading into a future of innovation where seamless, secure and ubiquitous IoT applications play a vital part in our daily routines.

Norbert Muhrer from Gemalto siting on an armchair
Norbert Muhrer, senior vice president of M2M at digital security company Gemalto

M2M Now: We now have a wider choice of technologies for IoT connectivity. How much further can traditional cellular options carry the industry forward?

NM: We believe traditional and emerging cellular options still provide a viable path to the future. MNOs are fully committed to the IoT marketplace recognising its power as a new growth area to supplement the handset and consumer device market. Where cellular offers its strongest advantage over other options is the ubiquitous availability of networks and in delivering the highest quality of service. Mature and proven IoT solutions, services, security and platforms are key enablers across the value chain, offering reliability and security, combined with easy integration due to interoperability through standardisation.

M2M Now: What changes have you seen in M2M over the past few years?

NM: We’ve seen the marketplace accelerate as a result of technology evolution, dedicated MNO support, more competitive pricing and mergers and acquisitions. In addition, the industry as a whole has embraced the importance of software and services to help simplify and accelerate growth. Gemalto expanded its product offerings adding Trusted Services, Security and cloud-based Platforms to its market-leading suite of M2M Module and MIM solutions. The trend to include embedded processing across product platforms has simplified development and back-end integration, speeding time to market for new applications. And, with growth, comes a heightened awareness of the need for end-to-end security architectures to protect data and systems and mitigate risk.

M2M Now: IoT is an area of huge innovation and growth. Where are you seeing game-changing applications of IoT connectivity?

NM: We’ve seen compelling innovations in smart home applications such as Nest, smart energy solutions including Gemalto-enabled SOLARKIOSK E-HUBB and Kiwigrid Secure Gateway, and in wearables like the new Limmex emergency call wristwatch. However, the connected car remains at the leading edge of IoT innovation with experts estimating that 90 percent of all vehicles will be connected by 2020. State-of-the art in-vehicle communications, permanent remote care of the car, NFC keyless entry and driver authentication, V2V and V2X technologies are enabling safer and more fuel-efficient traffic patterns and revolutionising modern transportation.

M2M Now: What are the main market drivers for IoT and where are you seeing the most growth?

NM: There is no doubt that the markets for intelligent devices and sensors that connect to the cloud are nearly limitless. Yet growth remains relatively cautious when compared to the smartphone industry. This is due to complexity. There is no cookie-cutter model in IoT and each industry vertical has its own rules. The key factor to drive growth is to remove complexity and the path is clear: connect the device – manage device connectivity – manage the data – wrap it all in a layer of security to provide a trusted solution. We offer this in four steps.

Firstly, get connected. Cinterion modules and MIMs connect customers to any mobile network.

Secondly, manage subscriptions. Enterprises or MNOs need to be able to dynamically manage subscriptions over the air. Gemalto’s On-Demand-Connectivity platform implements GSMA-specified standardised architecture to enable remote provisioning and improve simplicity, flexibility and security.

Thirdly, manage devices in the field. Gemalto’s SensorLogic platform simplifies device and overall solution management. Once the “plumbing” is in place, customers need to develop vertical specific applications. The SensorLogic Application Enabling Platform provides the toolbox with software kits, data management capabilities and graphic user interfaces for an easy data management in
the cloud.

The fourth thing is to secure the solution. These solutions handle sensitive business data and we need to ensure that devices only talk to their own host cloud and vice-versa, that cloud platforms only interact with authenticated devices. They need strong authentication with secure elements at the edge, i.e. the device and secured platforms at the core.

M2M Now: What sort of services are being developed to simplify the way connected devices are launched and operated?

NM: On-Demand Connectivity (ODC) and Over The Air (OTA) software provisioning greatly simplify both the road to market and solution management over long life spans. Until recently, manufacturers of devices like smart home thermostats needed to deliver a different solution variant for each MNO region where the thermostat is deployed. ODC clearly addresses this pain point, especially with international deployments and solutions like connected cars that are designed to operate for 10-15 years. Gemalto’s secure ODC solution delivers specific credentials governing mobile network use securely over the air to a Universal MIM card already embedded in the device.

Gemalto has been securely managing service provisioning for decades for MNOs, financial institutions and governments and we are quickly bringing this capability to the IoT space. For example, Swiss watch manufacturer Limmex is using Gemalto’s LinqUs ODC solution for its new connected wristwatch with embedded emergency communications and GPS capabilities. Launched with Swisscom, the watch can be used globally and securely provisioned over-the-air for any MNO.

M2M Now: Your solutions and services cover a huge spectrum of industries: which are the ones to watch in terms of network innovation and growth?

NM: The automotive industry is really on the cutting edge when it comes to both innovation and growth. Other similar verticals remain strong including vehicle tracking and recovery, usage-based insurance rates and toll-collect systems. The Point-of-Sales segment is another growing segment, motivated by EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) conversion across the globe and mobile payment via smartphone is also on the rise. Other industries to watch include the smart energy sector and healthcare.

M2M Now: What is your view of the emerging M2M/IoT Low Power WAN approaches?

NM: We are looking at many emerging connectivity approaches; some are more feasible than others. We believe the most promising is the evolution of LTE to MTC (Machine Type Communications). Networks are evolving to LTE (Long Term Evolution) but not all M2M solutions require the bandwidth of a connected car. In fact, most require only small bandwidth with bursts of data transmitted via a secure always-on channel. MNOs are developing specs for a cost-effective channel – MTC – within the LTE pipeline specifically for M2M applications including versions that compete with 3G, 2G and non-cellular/short-range alternatives.

We believe the MTC roadmap provides a strong and reliable path forward for IoT and M2M OEMs by providing ubiquitous network availability, reliability, longevity and strong security. In addition to the inherent security already built in with MIM and SIM cards, the industry can also leverage additional layers of mature technology including secure elements, NFC applications and two-factor authentication solutions that have been proven in mobile banking and other segments for decades.

M2M Now: Security and data privacy remain
a key industry concern; what does your acquisition of SafeNet bring to your platforms and services?

NM: Gemalto is already the global leader in digital security. Our solutions are used every day in billions of devices to secure mobile payments, financial transactions, government passports and much more. The acquisition of SafeNet strengthens our leadership even further allowing us to expand security from the edge to core of IT solutions. For example, software monetisation solutions can help businesses protect their intellectual property on IoT devices as well as in the cloud.

M2M Now: How mature and effective are today’s security options – and how do you see cellular network security evolving?

NM: Today’s security solutions are both mature and effective. Use of secure elements, two-factor authentication and OTA software solutions have been proven successful in sensitive industries including healthcare, telecommunications, banking, government and other sectors for years. However, IoT security often remains an afterthought in solution design exposing implementers to enormous risks – both financial and to brand reputation.

This dynamic is swiftly changing. OEMs, developers and service providers are engaging with trusted security experts for thorough risk evaluation and end-to-end security architecture design that mitigates risks and protects solutions, data and backend IT systems from cyber threats. To initiate any type of trusted connected world communication, the first step must always include secure service provisioning or On Demand Connectivity. If initial registration and credential delivery cannot be trusted, the device cannot be trusted.

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