Can telcos beat cloud giants like Google, Microsoft, Amazon in the IoT battle?

Nowadays, we see a new battle arising in the Internet of Things domain. It seems that after years of false promises, the IoT is becoming a viable market and all the tech giants want a piece. All the gorilla cloud service providers launched differentiated, proprietary IoT solutions, but it is clear that they want to get a grip on this domain.

These tech giants clearly understand the IoT can be a new revenue engine for their businesses, new devices and new territory. And the IoT market continues to grow as Gartner predicts there will be more than 20 billion IoT devices in 2020.

However, there are established players in this domain already, the telcos! Because their IoT devices are connected via cellular, the telcos are becoming players – but those players need to find the right strategy to fight the giant cloud services or they will become only “the pipe” that provides connectivity as commodity without the added value.

The telcos can (with the right technology and partners) gain new revenue streams and cost reductions derived from the IoT domain by:

  • Providing new services of management of IoT devices to existing and new customers
  • Reducing cost of maintenance of IoT devices
  • Preventing cyber attacks before they happen on IoT devices and thus increasing reliability and quality, which is very important to their customers

Once telcos can provide reliable, secure and managed IoT solutions they can acquire new customers or increase their business with current customers, in industries such as energy & water utilities, fleet management & telematics, healthcare, manufacturing, security & access control, transport & logistics and more.

In order to dominate the connected IoT market, they need to be able to create secure channels to the IoT devices and have the capability to manage and monitor these devices.

In addition to that, it is required to understand the challenges in the IoT domain and ensure that the solution supports it. A few of the challenges are:

  • Ironclad root of trust that ensures the firmware in the device can’t be tampered by anyone, with that capability of secure OTA all the way to the flash memory in the end device
  • Avoid fragmentation – to be agnostic to any processor and operating system (OS) that is being used in the end device – this is a must have since IoT devices tend to be low cost , with low performance capability – avoiding fragmentation is required regardless the processor.
Yoni Kahana
  • Capability to have a secure channel to the end device under the assumption that the software in the end device can be breached and even the processor is not always secure (as was proven by several breaches over the past year).
  • Security and management can’t compromise performance or introduce latency issues.
  • A method to address all of this is to change the paradigm. Instead of trusting the OS or the processor to deliver security (like the giant cloud services do), change the root of trust to the flash and create a secure channel between the flash in the end device all the way to the management system in the cloud – regardless if the software or the processor were compromised. Once this is done, it can be assured that only the authorised party can change the software in the flash (which is the holy grail for all the attackers) and ensure the authenticity and integrity of the software. After having this root of trust in flash, it can be used to create a secure channel to the cloud and have the required management and monitoring to create new service models. Needless to say, this solution must keep the basic requirements as defined above in order to make it relevant.Telcos will benefit more if they partner with the right IoT security provider rather than develop this technology on their own. The effort of creating the proper technology to support IoT devices globally is a daunting task. And this is an opportunity that telcos must seize or even dominate in this domain to compete with the big tech gorillas. If Telcos will work jointly with the companies that propose this new paradigm of securing flash, they could create a new lucrative revenue engine and beat the cloud companies at their own game.

The author of this blog is Yoni Kahana, VP Customers of NanoLock Security

About the author

Yoni Kahana, VP Customers of NanoLock Security, brings more than 20 years of experience in managing, leading and developing large-scale projects in secure telecommunications and embedded systems, from idea-stage to completion in R&D, product and business environments. Prior to joining NanoLock, Mr. Kahana was the Product Cybersecurity group manager for General Motors (GM) in Israel, managing the Israeli Cybersecurity Group responsible for securing crucial elements in the car.

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