Holistic cyber approach needed for secure scaling of IoT smart devices

16 January 2024 Consultancy-me.com 3 min. read

The rapid growth of smart and connected devices is unlocking a wave of next generation opportunities across various industries. Yet at the same time, the pioneering tech-innovation is demanding more focus than ever on cybersecurity, warns a new publication by KPMG.

The rise of interconnected smart devices is everywhere among us. From our cars and homes, to office environments and the public transport areas we visit, interconnected smart devices are being used to make life more convenient and effective through augmented experiences, and provide cutting-edge insights to those that operate the infrastructure.

According to Ton Diemont, a partner at KPMG, interconnected smart devices “redefines the way we interact with the physical world around us, ushering in an era where objects and devices have the ability to communicate, analyze, and operate autonomously.”

Holistic cyber approach needed for secure scaling of IoT smart devices

“The future of interconnected smart devices holds immense potential, with an anticipated surge in demand driven by key sectors that rely on data-intensive operations and prioritize stringent security measures,” he continued. “Industries such as energy, automotive, government, and healthcare, are poised to lead this growth.”

Indeed, research from Statista estimates that the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices – the technology that enables interconnected smart devices – worldwide is forecast to double from 2022 to 2030, reaching an estimated 29.4 billion devices.

Keeping billions of devices secure

This rise comes with a string of traditional, and more novel, challenges. Obviously, technology infrastructure owners need to scale their capabilities to facilitate the wave of new sensors, and the digital communication that come with them. Adopting Internet of Things will also necessitate more advanced infrastructures, applications that are up to the standard, and computing power in general.

Notably, KPMG’s report – titled ‘A holistic approach to cybersecurity for smart devices’ – highlights cybersecurity as a key area of focus. “The use of interconnected smart devices introduces unique security challenges that set them apart. These challenges arise due to diverse operating environments, wide attack vectors, multiple stakeholders, and operators with little cybersecurity expertise in the domain.”

Among the security risks are hacks of private and consumer data, breaches that compromise sensitive company data, or outage of data networks. More worrying, large-scale attacks on mission-critical infrastructures could result in the outage of critical services for society. “Such interruptions can have grave consequences, from human safety concerns like compromised medical devices to disruption in autonomous vehicles traffic.”

A holistic approach

In addressing, mitigating and countering such risks, KPMG’s report advocates a holistic approach to cybersecurity. “It is paramount to address the security risks across the lifecycle, starting from secure design of interconnected smart devices until their decommissioning.”

“Data ownership, protection of smart devices, and privacy are central challenges that must be addressed,” stated Hytham Elsohl, a director at KPMG. “Stakeholders need to develop comprehensive cybersecurity strategies, employ industry-standard encryption mechanisms, and prioritize application security to ensure the security of Smart-X technologies.”

Based on its work in the domain, KPMG has developed a proprietary model that brings all those elements together under one roof. “Our framework identifies critical domains at each stage of the product life cycle,” said Diemont.

The life cycles spans five phases: design, development and manufacturing,  acquisition, implementation and operation, maintenance and support and decommissioning.

“By integrating security considerations into every stage of the lifecycle, stakeholders can proactively identify potential security vulnerabilities and respond at the right time to mitigate them,” Elsohl concluded.