Internet founder charges US Federal contractors with increasing the quality and security of IoT solutions

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More than 200 government IT industry professionals attended a summit in McLean, Virginia on June 16 to discuss the role of public-private partnerships in securing the connected government. The Potomac Officers Club event, sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton, featured presentations from Google VP and Chief Internet Evangelist, Vint Cerf, along with executives from firms including Booz Allen, Cisco and Amazon Web Services.

“There is no excuse not to run two-factor authentication, HTTPS and encryption,” he said. “We do it at Google, and you should do it for the government.” “Here we are talking about the Internet of Things, and when it comes to security, we haven’t done too well with the old Internet,” said Cerf, referencing recent cyber-intrusions. Cerf charged the audience with creating more secure, higher quality solutions to prevent future attacks—especially as we move into the era of cyber-physical systems.

Cerf laid out a list of key challenges and considerations for securing government IoT solutions, including transitioning to IPv6 to meet the need for the growing number of IP addresses, dynamic self-configuration of systems and devices and authentication for software updates.

“You need to think your way through all of those scenarios to know how you will respond,” he said. “What you’re seeing here is a wide open for space for creativity and invention, but also a wide open space for risk.”

Following Cerf’s keynote, Booz Allen executive vice president Angela Messer facilitated a panel on securing the IoT convergence.

Messer Angie
Booz Allen Hamilton Executive Vice President Angie Messer

“Cyber threats today steal, destroy and disrupt,” Messer said. “Cyber threats tomorrow will have the ability to shut down cities and critical infrastructure, disable security systems, disrupt embedded systems in military platforms and immobilize hospitals.” Panelists discussed the logistical, legal, regulatory and cultural challenges of cyber security in a connected society.

While the summit focus was on the security risks posted by connected devices and ecosystems,many participants also discussed the potential for IoT to tackle government challenges.

Kevin Kampschroer, Director of Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings at the General Services Administration (GSA) described how GSA is improving energy efficiency, enhancing operational effectiveness and improving indoor environmental quality through building automation systems and advanced metering. For instance, conference rooms at GSA are automatically opened for reservation if employees don’t check-in within five minutes of a reservation, and they use programmed light flickers to gently nudge staff out at the end of meetings.

Sokwoo Rhee, Associate Director of Cyber-Physical Systems Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) described how NIST is hosting a year-long challenge to foster partnerships within and among cities in an effort to create a more sustainable, replicable and scalable model for smart cities.

“The issue of a smart city is that everyone is doing their own thing – one off projects, but all cities are solving the same problems,” Rhee said. “We want cities to partner and come up with joint requirements and vendors to address those requirements jointly.”

Booz Allen senior vice president Mark Jacobsohn said the summit marked the beginning of a much needed dialogue about the opportunities and challenges of the connected government.

Jacobsohn Mark
Booz Allen Hamilton Senior Vice President

“At Booz Allen, we have been using remote monitoring and sensor technologies to support our clients for decades,” Jacobsohn said. “As IoT becomes more prevalent in the government, we need to converge around the standards, security and interoperability needs of connected devices and ecosystems.”

Jacobsohn said Booz Allen’s goal is to make IoT more real and less risky for clients through tailored and reusable solutions.

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