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Understanding M2M & IoT Security

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Couple of months back, DoT issued a directive to all telecom operators in India for using 13-digit M2M numbers for IoT-enabled devices. DoT stated that security is one of the primary factors for issuing the directive. On this context, let’s understand the security aspects of IoT and M2M based technologies.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technologies are transforming the way we live and work in this digital age and driving new solutions in various Industries, from connected smart homes and smart cities.

Earlier, Department of Telecom (DoT) issued a directive to all the telecom operators in India to start issuing 13-digit mobile numbers to customers. Under this directive, the telecom operators are liable to implement 13-digits numbering M2M sim card to existing mobile users’ numbers from July 1, 2018. Initially, there was a confusion in the media whether this directive was applicable to all mobile phone consumers, but later government clarified that it is applicable to Industrial based M2M SIM cards that are used in automated machines which require network connectivity. The DoT directive added that this decision has been taken to provide better ‘security’ features to users. On this aspect, let’s explore how security plays a crucial role in M2M and IoT systems.

Security Applications
M2M communications and relevant applications is rapidly transforming every local government services and Industries verticals such as automotive, asset management, consumer electronics, healthcare, insurance, and banking sector. In the coming years, M2M growth is expected to grow exponentially in every sectors and across every Industry verticals, due to the anticipated Internet of Things ecosystem. Several experts have predicted that convergence of M2M and IoT as the ‘new technological frontier’. In this context, security concerns have become a growing challenge for enterprises deploying IoT and M2M systems.

There are several security benefits of using a M2M communication system. The security advantages of using M2M technology can be seen in the implementation of safety and surveillance systems such as women personal safety system, commercial and home security monitoring system, police and fire alert system and medical emergency alert system. Further, the M2M technology can be implemented for public safety such as highway, bridge, and traffic management system.

Ensuring Security
With the rapid proliferation of M2M and IoT technologies, the M2M Industry is quickly recognizing the need to deal with security and privacy issues. So, how do they ensure security for the Internet of Things and M2M communication system? The level of security in M2M communication system usually depends upon the application, which requires anything from maintaining consumer privacy to limiting cyber attacks against the system utilities. For enterprises, that deal with M2M technology have to address the threats ranging from corporate espionage to Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks. Securing IoT and M2M implementations requires meticulous planning, smart engineering of an end-to-end security infrastructure. As several connected systems face regular threats, security needs to be increased along with all the performance benefits of IoT systems.

From embedded to control layers and out to user experience, IoT and M2M security should be robust and should offer dynamic end-to end solution. The gateway to the M2M network will require strong authentication mechanisms that prevents hacking attacks and detects unauthorized use and entry attempts. A M2M and IoT system should have real-time logging features and reporting mechanism in place, to thwart an active attack from the malicious hackers.

Generally speaking, implementation of security features to M2M requires more overhead in each packet along with the components embedded within the electronics that is being transmitted. The service providers of M2M communication should ensure that the voice and data packets are encrypted using relevant encryption algorithms to avoid any eavesdropping by the malicious elements.

In essence, along with the parameters of speed and connectivity, security and privacy should also be a key component of M2M communication.

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