The Week In Review: IoT

Cybersecurity in IoT; NXP debuts IoT gateway; Sigfox goes to Japan.


Last month’s distributed denial-of-service cyberattacks have put the spotlight on poorly secured or insecure Internet of Things devices. “The harsh reality is that cybersecurity is not even on the radar of many manufacturers,” said Trent Telford, CEO of Covata, an Internet security firm. “Security will eventually become more of a priority, but it may well be too late for this generation of IoT users.” Qualcomm Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs said in an interview, “We can build into the hardware certain fundamental things that will watch to see: is the device doing something it wasn’t expected to do? Is it talking to somewhere it wasn’t expected to talk to? Is it accessing memory differently?” He added, “It’s very important for IoT to make sure you have a way of securing and updating devices.”

The Internet of Things is helping to reduce or eliminate corporate paperwork, while automating many functions, this analysis notes. “The advent of the Internet of Things is a catalyzing factor in the adoption of cybersecurity products,” says Rick Gordon, managing partner at Mach37, an accelerator in Herndon, Va.

Greenfield development of IoT devices means starting from scratch – a process that many IoT developers embrace. More challenging, yet potentially more rewarding, is brownfield development of IoT devices, this analysis asserts. “To achieve success in brownfield development, IoT companies will need to provide an easy, reliable solution that doesn’t intrude upon the design of the product,” says Joe Britt, CEO of Afero, which offers an IoT platform for brownfield and greenfield development.

Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election may have several effects on the Internet of Things market, according to this analysis. The president-elect’s skepticism on climate change may lower adoption of electric vehicles and self-driving cars, which currently benefit from federal tax credits. Development of smart cities may also lag. The industrial IoT may conflict with the Trump administration’s plans to restore manufacturing jobs in the U.S. BI Intelligence has a new report available, The Internet of Things: Examining How The IoT Will Affect The World.

Cybersecurity experts want government regulators to address security issues with IoT devices, a subject that may not gain as much traction with the incoming administration. “The problems are not problems that markets can solve,” says Bruce Schneier, a security specialist affiliated with Harvard University. He likens DDoS attacks to air pollution – an issue that manufacturers were unwilling to tackle until government regulation forced their hand.

NXP Semiconductors this week introduced its Modular IoT Gateway Solution for large node networks, supporting multiple wireless communications protocols, such as Thread, Wi-Fi, and ZigBee. The gateway is based on an open-source Linux platform operating on NXP’s i.MX processors. The Modular IoT Gateway implements a number of security measures, according to the chipmaker. The company is offering a reference design to customers. “The IoT revolution is driving new requirements for our customers, and pushes the limits of their design teams,” Denis Cabrol, director of global marketing for NXP’s microcontroller business line, said in a statement. “With NXP’s Modular IoT Gateway, it’s possible to develop secure and connected applications within months, without the need to hire a team of connectivity and security experts.”

Cypress Semiconductor brought out the Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) Studio 4 platform, building on a product it acquired earlier this year from Broadcom. “Many IoT applications are trending toward combo solutions that enable Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and alternative connectivity protocols, and every IoT developer is looking for a simple migration path to connectivity upgrades,” Mike Hogan, vice president of the IoT Business Unit at Cypress, said in a statement. “Our new WICED Studio 4 development platform provides a single tool for designs with multiple wireless protocols, streamlining the design process and allowing our customers to get their innovative connected products to market faster.”

Monument, Colo.-based yphi has introduced the fortiphi mobile and network management application to safeguard Internet of Things networks in homes and small businesses. The software runs on Android and iOS mobile devices, and also operates on routers with open-source firmware. “With all the recent hacks of consumer and corporate networks through IoT devices (i.e. thermostats, cameras, and other popular Wi-Fi enabled products), the market is pleading for a simple, affordable and effective way to connect, control, and protect the IoT world,” yphi CEO Chris Lundwall said in a statement. “The growth of IoT devices promised simplicity, but it’s delivered confusion and huge risk.”

The LARA-R3121 module was introduced by u-blox. It incorporates a single-mode LTE Category 1 modem and a Global Navigation Satellite System positioning engine for Internet of Things and machine-to-machine devices. “Most IoT modules on the market use LTE modem technology, developed by handset-focused silicon vendors. They may not provide the best fit for IoT applications, because they focus on features targeted at Tier 1 handset makers, limited by short lifecycles. The LARA-R3121 is different with features and qualifications crafted for the industrial markets,” Andreas Thiel, u-blox executive vice president, Cellular Products & IC Design, said in a statement.

Sigfox worked with ecosystem partners to offer IoT communication modules priced between $2 and $3, soon to be available around the world. Wisol is sampling modules built around an ON Semiconductor system-on-a-chip device, while InnoCom will be making modules with NXP transceivers, with sampling set for January. “As the total costs to connect devices to the IoT fall, the cost of modules becomes a key component in the equation,” said David Parker, senior research analyst at Beecham Research. “This announcement strengthens the IoT Service Provider approach Sigfox brings to the market, lowering the cost to connect, enabling more applications to be connected economically and further expanding the market.”

Meanwhile, Sigfox said it is collaborating with Kyocera Communication Systems to offer the Sigfox network in Japan, which would become the 25th country in the world with the Sigfox device-to-cloud communications service. The Sigfox rollout in Japan will begin in Tokyo early next year, with main territory coverage coming in 2018.

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