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#Connectivity & IoT

Massive IoT systems

Global Trends
6 Mins.

Billions of connected devices and sensors are set to transform the way we work, shop, and grow our food. Large manufacturers are already exploiting the huge potential of IoT – and 5G can help solve connectivity issues. But what are the challenges to be faced as we start to apply digital security to processes that have never before been digitized?

Many large manufacturers are looking to the future and connecting up their equipment, employees, networks, and software systems, analyzing the resulting data to dramatically enhance the efficiency of their operations.

One of the biggest benefits of this connection technology is predictive maintenance of machinery, where sensors can be programmed to alert employees when a machine experiences a surge in power demand, allowing them to schedule servicing and repairs before damage can occur.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags also allow factory workers to easily locate components and other supplies, further minimizing waste and delays. Manufacturers that connect ordering processes with supplier network solutions can ensure they always have exactly the right amount of raw materials available, and can easily get an overview of how their industrial ecosystem is performing.

From smart farmers to aviation automation

In the agricultural sector, IoT-based smart farming is already reducing waste and improving productivity. For example, farmers can now automate, monitor and control the conditions of crops, and optimize the amount of water and fertilizer they’re using, based on feedback from a network of soil and weather sensors.

Smart greenhouses equipped with light, humidity, temperature, and pressure sensors can intelligently monitor climate conditions and adapt them to help maximize yields. The application of massive IoT systems can even allow farmers to keep constant tabs on the location and health of their livestock, and predict disease outbreaks.

Many other industries are also adopting IoT solutions with increasing speed. Air freight, for example, is one of the fastest and most effective methods of transporting goods. To address the issue of cargo damage, Lufthansa Industry Solutions (LHIND) worked with G+D Mobile Security and blockchain experts ubirch to develop a secure IoT service that can detect cargo damage at any point along its journey. Powered by G+D Mobile Security’s SIGNiT solution, LHIND’s Damage Detection Sensor offers Detection-as-a-Service (DaaS), so companies can track damage and use the data to optimize their supply chain and prevent such damage from recurring.

5G networks and IoT development

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5G networks will help to solve many connectivity issues

So far, the building and deployment of an IoT system has often involved a series of trade-offs – sensor range and latency versus power and size, for example. But 5G networks will help to solve many of these connectivity issues, allowing companies to do more things with more devices in more locations than ever before.

However, several issues still need to be overcome before IoT can reach its true potential. Some businesses, for example, have struggled to make good use of the vast amounts of data they’re able to generate, often owing to a lack of in-house skills.

It’s best not to think of massive IoT as a standalone technology, given how much it relies on other IT assets, such as cloud platforms, mobile devices, and robust networks for data transmission. This makes IoT a clear example of digital transformation, says Seth Robinson, Senior Director of Technology Analysis at CompTIA, with companies recognizing that simply bringing in new technology is not enough.

“With IoT, companies face a monumental challenge: applying digital security to processes that have never before been digitized“
Seth Robinson
Senior Director of Technology Analysis, CompTIA

IoT – safe and secure?

Then, of course, there is the issue that cannot be avoided when discussing IoT: security threats. In recent years, cameras, thermostats, and lighting systems have all been targeted by hackers keen to construct botnets or install malicious software. “With IoT, companies face a monumental challenge: applying digital security to processes that have never before been digitized,” says Robinson.

“With new technology, there has to be a balance between breaking new ground and ensuring a secure approach. Since some of the early fears and struggles with cloud security, companies have been shifting their mindset to proactively consider security when exploring new models.”

Another security topic that also takes on greater importance with IoT is availability, as Robinson confirms. “When IoT is integrated into physical environments – especially critical infrastructure – there is a lower tolerance for failure and less flexibility in waiting for a backup to kick in.”

The invisible revolution

Furthermore, companies need to carefully analyze how their IoT security procedures intersect with industry-specific regulations, as just one malicious attack could have devastating financial and reputational repercussions.

Blockchain-based products are one promising means of securing IoT solutions. For example, G+D Mobile Security SIGNiT® solution seals sensor data cryptographically at the source, milliseconds after it has been measured, with a blockchain-style protocol developed by ubirch.

So, while every business should have a clear strategy for securing their IoT solutions, and a path to massive IoT adoption that takes any skills shortages into account, those that choose to ignore the “invisible revolution” altogether are only likely to be left behind.

Published: 19/05/2020

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