INNOVATION INSIGHTS: How this Australian tech company is planning to solve security in the Internet of Everything world

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You shall not pass

By 2022 Cisco predicts that the global market for the Internet of Things will be over $14 trillion. Nearly every device or appliance in our homes, cars, and workplaces will be connected to the internet for better or worse.

But with so many devices connected to the internet, it creates countless more opportunities for hackers to disrupt our world. As much as Hollywood movies such as Die Hard 4 may seem like over the top blockbusters, the underlying idea of one person or a group of people causing havoc through hacking into our internet connected infrastructure isn’t all that far-fetched.

And when big corporations move their business to the cloud, this is where companies like Covata, the ASX-listed data security company comes in.

The Australian company has become a key player in cloud-based security, with huge firms such as the Commonwealth Bank and Cisco using the service. Last year Covata signed a 10-year deal with Cisco, providing encryption technology called “Keys as a Service”, which will enable encryption in cloud computing for Cisco’s customers worldwide.

Covata has two patent applications lodged for its new product which aims to solve some of the headaches of security in an Internet-of-Things world, like letting all of your devices know about policy updates, or managing the security of devices that are designed to move around the world. KaaS, for example, allows users to confine access only to people in a specified location, adding another layer of complexity for network attackers based in other countries (think Russia and China).

KaaS has been penned as one of the most important pieces of technology in the world due to the crucial role it will play in the future in an internet connected world.

With the amount of data due to increase exponentially as IoT takes off, securing the keys and achieving data sovereignty will be absolutely vital to avoid hackers using these devices as a vehicle to compromise corporate and personal networks.

“The Covata KaaS standard security protocol is the only way to maintain the integrity of the open Internet,” said Trent Telford, CEO of Covata.

“The Internet was designed to share information, it wasn’t designed to be secure, which is why continually bolstering perimeter defences is like trying to beat a wild horse into submission.”

“We’re offering a modern approach to security that enables everyone who enjoys the creativity, openness of the Internet to continue to do business securely with the same ease and flexibility they expect. Data sovereignty is achieved through key sovereignty — a genuine security revolution and one we think will solve this major 21st century hurdle.”

The amount of devices that will soon be connected to the internet is something that Telford adds we can’t underestimate.

“The Internet of Things is going to blow the number of machines connected to the Internet out of the water, and hugely increase the number of transactions we see occur online,” he said.

“A vast amount of this unprotected data is continually being sent to cloud or big data services where it is aggregated and used for decision-making.

“With much of this data being either moderately or extremely sensitive, it is creating a potential goldmine for hackers.”

As we move into the world of IoT, an intrinsic security process becomes vital.

For example, a large company has machines and equipment out in strategic sites for mining or agriculture or monitoring. Each little blob of data created, held or sent from these IoT devices needs to be secure. Why? One piece of data, or a few pieces of data, may not be of much value, but keep in mind that the data from the field is being sent to a central location, usually a cloud or big data service, where it is aggregated and used for decision making.

Much of this data may be moderately or extremely sensitive. A hacker could be watching all that data traveling “in the clear” up to the aggregation point. That hacker could find out what’s going on before the company – and the ramifications of this knowledge in the wrong hands speak for themselves.

The fallout from this example could range from terrorist attacks shutting down vital operations such as power or transportation systems to stealing market sensitive data on everything from agriculture yields to mining outputs. It could be stealing the design blueprints of the latest electric car being sent to robots on an assembly line.

This is the advantage of Covata’s KaaS – standardised and automatic security for companies and IoT innovators. Each individual piece of data is protected, and, importantly, the data never passes through the key server (or any part of Covata) – end-to-end encryption is the hallmark of Covata. It goes from device to wherever it needs to be sent. Covata ensures it is encrypted first and only the authorised intended recipient decrypts it.

The issue of security in industrial IoT are widespread, and very real, which is why services such as Covata’s KaaS are crucial.