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GSMA issues security guidelines for IoT

Steve Rogerson
February 17, 2016
The GSMA has released security guidelines for the IoT. They have been developed in consultation with the mobile industry and provide IoT service providers and the wider IoT ecosystem practical advice on tackling common cybersecurity threats, as well as data privacy issues associated with IoT services.
The project has received the backing and support of the mobile industry including mobile operators AT&T, China Telecom, Etisalat, KDDI, NTT Docomo, Orange, Telefónica, Telenor and Verizon and vendor and infrastructure partners 7Layers, Ericsson, Gemalto, Morpho, Telit and U-Blox.
“As billions of devices become connected in the internet of things, offering innovative and interconnected new services, the possibility of potential vulnerabilities increases,” said Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer for the GSMA. “These can be overcome if the end-to-end security of an IoT service is carefully considered by the service provider when designing their service and an appropriate mitigating technology is deployed. A proven and robust approach to security will create trusted, reliable services that scale as the market grows.”
The guidelines have been designed for all players in the IoT ecosystem including service providers, device manufacturers and developers. They should help service providers build secure services by outlining technologies and methods to address potential threats, as well as how to implement them. They also establish the need for risk assessment of all components of an IoT service to ensure they are designed to collect, store and exchange data securely and successfully mitigate cybersecurity attacks. The guidelines recently completed a thorough industry consultation with academics, analysts and other industry experts to ensure they are as robust as possible.
“There is a significant amount of evidence to suggest that cyberattacks are already happening in the burgeoning IoT space,” said Don Bailey, founder and CEO of Lab Mouse Security. “If not handled appropriately, these attacks are likely to inhibit the growth and stability of the internet of things. It is imperative that the industry adopts a standard approach for dealing with security risks and mitigations, helping to ensure that the entire IoT ecosystem will not be subject to fraud, exposures of privacy, or attacks that affect human life."
The guidelines have been developed through the GSMA Connected Living programme. The programme is designed to help operators accelerate the delivery of connected devices and services in the M2M market. It focuses on driving industry collaboration, promoting appropriate regulation and optimising networks to support the growth of M2M in the immediate future and the IoT in the longer term.
“The IoT is all about making the things in your life smarter,” said Cameron Coursey, vice president of AT&T. “Security is paramount to something that touches and influences our lives as deeply as the IoT. These guidelines are a vital initiative towards realising the vision of a robust and highly secure IoT ecosystem.”
Angel David Garcia Barrio, vice president for M2M at Etisalat, added: “The internet of things presents great opportunities to create value for businesses and consumers but the interconnection of heterogeneous systems and technologies increases the chance of exposing areas of vulnerability. The GSMA IoT security guidelines compile best practice recommendations for service development which if adopted will minimise opportunities for malicious exploitation and in turn will reassure market confidence and facilitate mass adoption. At Etisalat we look forward to use them when creating new or enhancing our existing IoT service offering."
And Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, senior executive at Orange, said: “As technology evolves and adapts to the new opportunities that will be realised through connected things and objects, it will be the consumer who ultimately determines which products and services are successful. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of security vulnerabilities and threats to their own digital identity and consumer protection will be a key consideration for adoption of IoT services. Orange welcomes these guidelines and recommendations from the GSMA, and sees them as a crucial for helping to define the security ecosystem that the industry must deliver to build consumer trust and confidence, and that protection of their digital identity and presence on the internet is inherently part of the solution they purchase.”
Vicente Muñoz Boza, chief IOT officer at Telefónica said the guidelines built on the long experience of secure communications over cellular networks.
And at Telenor, Jimmy Johansson, information security and privacy officer, said: "To allow the internet of things to take off on its predicted trajectory, security and privacy must be adopted throughout the ecosystem and built-in from the start. These guidelines will help both start-ups and established companies to implement security and privacy into their processes in order to provide secure services and products."
Ove Anebygd, vice president at Ericsson, added: “The internet of things brings great opportunities for innovation from a growing ecosystem of partners. At the same time, this rapidly changing, agile market thriving with new entrants also introduces complex security demands. Ericsson has long been an active contributor to industry standards development and implementation. We believe that the GSMA IoT security guidelines will play an important role in maintaining the level of security required to drive the IoT forward in a meaningful way.”
Gemalto supported and actively contributed to the development of industry best practices with the GSMA IoT security guidelines. “These guidelines will help network operators, service providers and device manufacturers to properly assess the threats and risks as part of a security by design approach in the entire value chain,” said Norbert Muhrer, senior vice president of IoT for Gemalto. “Trust and security are now recognised as core success factors for the deployment of the IoT.”
Mihai Voicu, CSO for Telit, said: “Security is surfacing as the most important discussion topic in the IoT. Telit welcomes the initiatives from GSMA related to IoT security. As fully vested participants in the development of the IoT security guidelines, we consider them a crucial step, establishing a baseline on which solutions can be built. These guidelines must be seen as the foundation for security pertaining to the most critical elements of the IoT ecosystem: end-points, services and network.”
• The PRPL Foundation, an open-source, community-driven, collaborative, non-profit foundation supporting the connected devices industry, has published its own security guidelines for the IoT. The document describes a hardware-led approach that is said to be easy to implement, scalable and interoperable.
The guidance aims to improve security for devices in a rapidly expanding connected world where failure to do so can result in significant harm to individuals, businesses and nations.
“The internet of things is connecting our world in ways not anticipated even a decade ago,” said Art Swift, president of the PRPL Foundation. “This connectivity finds its way into everything from light bulbs and home appliances to critical systems including cars, airlines and even hospitals. Security, despite its huge and increasing importance, has so far been addressed in piecemeal and often proprietary ways. Given ubiquitous connectivity and the rapid emergence of the IoT, the need for a well-designed, structured and comprehensive security architecture has never been greater.”