In the past decade, the Internet of Things (IoT) has become one of the most important technologies that various industry players are keeping a close watch on. From traffic light signals to vital signs of a patient, IoT is playing a very vital role regardless of industry or setting. Thus, it is virtually impossible for any industry to ignore the existence and growth of IoT as many of its applications are interwoven with the global population and numerous real-world issues and solutions.
But what exactly is IoT? Simply put, IoT refers to a system of interconnected devices (mechanical and digital) with the ability to communicate and transmit real-time data via wired or wireless networks without human intervention.
IoT in Today’s World
Prior to the pandemic, the shift towards digitalisation was already well underway. However, it’s this ongoing pandemic that has accelerated the digitalisation process. With digitalisation now becoming a common fixture in this technological-advanced society, IoT is now being prominently featured as an important function in many industries. For example, apart from using IoT devices as medical sensors in hospitals to track patients’ conditions, such devices are also used to collect data for smart farming in the agriculture industry. Closer to home, IoT devices are fast becoming commonplace in residential homes, as they help tighten security, and enable seamless communication between people and machines.
With such extensive use of IoT, it is imperative for companies to develop products that possess reliable cyber security features that protect the users’ data. This is especially true with regards to medical devices, networking equipment, and VoIP phones; devices that are at the highest risk of encountering cyber-attacks. Therefore, companies must pursue and adhere to industry regulations to ensure that their devices possess the highest level of data integrity and security. Which is why working with the right technology partner for your IoT solutions is very important.
IoT’s Benefits and Risks
The basic architecture of an IoT device starts with a modem embedded in the hardware that communicates data to the network it is connected to. While IoT improves automation and connectivity to bring extensive benefits to society, it is also vulnerable to cyber threats. As the world becomes increasingly digitised, and the number of IoT devices across the world grows exponentially, we must note that cyber threats in turn will increase as well. Which is why product owners and manufacturers must implement additional cyber security countermeasures. One of them would be the implementation of security features such as sensors and peripherals to detect fake cloud services and suspicious eavesdropping, as well as enhance their design process with the intent of preventing IoT architecture loopholes.
Benefits of IoT
IoT is truly an innovation that benefits businesses. Smart devices imbued with powerful algorithms, IoT is transforming modern industries by helping businesses reduce costs, increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction, and eliminate risks. Here are some benefits of IoT:
- Improve productivity and operations through automation and the reduction of human labour and costs.
- Achieve a higher level of customer satisfaction with improved customer experience through timely and intuitive services.
- Enhance security measures and improve operation systems for better control of transactions and manage suspicious activities.
Cyber Security Threats
According to Symantec’s study, it is revealed that IoT devices experience an average of 5,200 attacks per month. And if IoT connections are going to increase to 27 billion by 2025, it is time for businesses to pay attention to the possible security threats that this growth may bring. Some of the top IoT security threats highlighted by industry experts include:
- Insecure data storage and transfer. Any time data is sent, received, or stored via networks, the risk of a breach increases.
- AI-based attacks. Hackers now can build AI-powered tools that are very efficient in carrying out their attacks. This is a serious threat to the IoT ecosystem.
- Lack of visibility. As more devices connect and disconnect from the IoT network, managing them can become difficult. This can prevent organisations from detecting and/or responding to potential threats.
Although no perfect cyber security system exists, what an organisation can do is improve the cyber security features of its IoT devices. Some of these include:
- Ensuring that any data going through bus protocols such as I2C/SPI/UART is encrypted to inhibit access to data streams.
- External memory devices that store sensitive information should encrypt the stored data. Jtag/Debug processing interfaces should be disabled, with read protection enabled.
- Creating dedicated encryption key storages to mitigate the risk of data compromise.
- Using Microcontroller Units (MCU) that support SecureBoot which allows authenticated code to run and ensures the existing code cannot be altered by an external party.
- Enabling mutual authentication as it protects users from threats posed by fake devices and servers.
- Ensuring modems fit modern requirements. Ideally modems should support Transport Layer Security (TLS) v1.2 or later versions and use secure security certificate storage with HW encryption/digital signatures/Random Number Generators. Modems with TLS completed in SW should use a fips 140-2 certified library.
Secure Manufacturing with PCI
PCI is an experienced manufacturer, producing numerous IoT devices across many industries. Our expertise not only allows us to develop IoT devices that meet regulatory certification requirements at both manufacturing and security levels, we also ensure that our cloud-connected technology designs are developed with the intent to minimise cyber security risks. Here at PCI, we pride ourselves in the following disciplines for improving an IoT product’s design, functions, and security features:
Electrical Engineering (EE)
We adopt effective electrical engineering practices to enhance an IoT product’s overall functionality and security implementation process. We also take into consideration necessary cyber security measures and integrate trusted platform modules (TPM) into IoT devices for improved cyber security.
Mechanical Engineering (ME)
We implement meticulous mechanical design processes to ensure that every IoT product, including its casing, screws, and labels, are strategically placed to prevent easy tampering of such devices.
Software Engineering (SE)
Our software engineers ensure product precision through rigorous testing. Effective encryption is also introduced to improve security precautions, yet it does not inhibit functionality.
Design for Manufacturing
With years of specialised manufacturing experience, we can anticipate manufacturing issues ahead of mass production. All manufacturability issues can be easily addressed with PCI’s specialised jigs, robotic soldering, ultrasonic cleaning, automated handling, and experienced assembly and testing.
How Can PCI Help?
With IoT devices being used everywhere from hospitals to homes, it is essential that any data conveyed through these devices is thoroughly protected from threat actors. By implementing the above strategies, we help businesses create IoT devices that their customers can safely use, confident in the knowledge that their data is secure.
Highly competent with hardware and design systems that optimise the link between architecture and software, here at PCI, we can help design and develop IoT products that meet our clients’ requirements. In addition, by working closely with our clients, we have built some of the best IoT devices in the industry. Producers who work with PCI to develop high-quality IoT devices benefit from our extensive manufacturing and design experience, competitive team of engineers and designers, and state-of-the-art production factories. Furthermore, we are experts in the supply chain, manufacturing, and design processes. Developing with us also means you can be certain that your IoT devices undergo stringent design verification tests for security, functionality, and manufacturability. Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help turn your IoT ideas into a reality.
With more than 40 years of experience in manufacturing, PCI is an experienced IoT device producer for diverse industries. Our experience allows us to develop IoT devices from design phases to mass production, while meeting stringent regulatory certification requirements. Our expertise ranges from the embedding of radio modules and bridging firmware applications into existing products to complete IoT solutions.
Whether it’s to re-engineer an existing product for cloud-connected technology integration or developing a new product from scratch, we are a one-stop IoT product manufacturer that has a team of in-house designers, engineering facilities, and full-fledged manufacturing plants to support projects of any scale. For businesses looking to turn your IoT ideas into reality, let us have your details and we'll send you a copy of our whitepaper.