Smart Homes Mean Tough Security Choices for 2016

Smart Homes Mean Tough Security Choices for 2016

Consumers should expect a Gold Rush with respect to the Internet of Things in 2016. Google, Amazon, Microsoft and others are seeking to become the dominant hub of IoT devices and services—the single point of connection for consumers to tie into IoT in their homes.

The company that emerges as the predominant choice of consumers will bear a great deal of the responsibility for security and privacy of personal data.

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In 2016, it’s likely one vendor will emerge as the main IoT hub for consumer services. This leader will foster an ecosystem approach that other vendors cannot wait to be part of.

The fastest route to success for new IoT device makers and service providers will be to ride the coattails of the most popular IoT ecosystem.

Related story: Security must be part of device design as Internet of Things evolves

Obvious candidates for IoT domination are Google, with its Nest on Google Play and Amazon, with its Amazon Echo. But you should never underestimate the likes of Microsoft, whose Internet-connected Xbox gaming console lives in millions of homes.

Nor should you discount under-the-radar vendors, such as Jibo, who could gain a foothold via a disruptive technology.

Bulls-eye on front-runner

Once the front-runner emerges, that leading IoT ecosystem is sure to become a prime hacking target. Nefarious parties can be expected to intensify efforts to disrupt IoT devices and services and to steal valuable consumer and business data.

IoT vendors will need to be especially rigorous in their security planning, supply chain management, access controls and more.

This will be a significant challenge for them, as they will need to make trade-offs between ease of use and deterring unauthorized connection and usage.

As vendors seek to strike a balance between convenience and security, consumers will be exposed to deep intrusions of their home networks.

A central IoT hub that is easy and convenient to use also can open up numerous paths for an attacker to infiltrate almost any IoT service. Private conversations, sensitive health care information, even whether the consumer is at home or not could be exposed.

A wave of home IoT breaches could be disastrous to the ecosystem vendors, as well as to individual victims. It could significantly undermine people’s confidence in using IoT devices and services.

This guest essay by Geoff Webb, solution strategy vice president at IT systems management vendor NetIQ, originally appeared on