IoT developers concerned about privacy and data protection

An impressive 65 percent of Internet of Things (IoT) apps in production today are generating real revenue. The study results, undertaken by Progress and Harbor Research, also reveal developers expect this figure to rise to 80 percent by 2018. The industries that currently lead in IoT development include smart homes, wearables, automotive and sports/fitness.

The survey, which took place during January and February 2015, solicited responses from 675 application developers polled from the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Sweden, The Netherlands and India. Of those surveyed, 45% are developing IoT apps. Developers based in the U.S. are developing the highest number of IoT apps (58%), followed by The Netherlands (50%) and Germany (43%).

Security and privacy

Developers around the globe agreed security and personal privacy, data privacy and protection from malicious attack, and general integration and data management are the top challenges in designing, deploying and engaging customers with IoT apps. They also confirmed these are the biggest challenges in monetizing IoT apps.

While IoT may be a game changer in many respects, from a security perspective the game changes little, according to Tsion Gonen, Vice President of Strategy for Identity and Data Protection at Gemalto. “At its most basic level, security for the Internet of Things depends on our ability to identify devices and their masters, and protect the data that those devices and masters manage and share. A trusted device is one we can reliably identify and associate with a manufacturer o rprovider. The devices should be able to communicate with the masters, as well as other devices of the same type. A trusted master is expected to securely communicate with dependent devices, and issue firmware/software updates to those devices in a way that provides assurances that the code is authentic and unmodified.”

“Encryption is the foundation of trust for IoT. Communication between devices and their masters requires encryption as it validates who can talk to whom and validates what is sent as being valid. In addition, as sensitive data travels through the cloud and IoT environment, it should be encrypted to prevent interception. Likewise, stored data should be transparently and seamlessly encrypted to prevent theft,” Gonen added.

Survey respondents believe commercial vendors (31%) and the open source community (24%) have the greatest power to help overcome these top challenges. They have little faith in the potential contribution from government (8%) or industry bodies (7%).

“As IoT enables some vendors to generate a revenue stream past the point of purchase through bundled services, security and privacy issues will always be a cause of concern,” according to Alon Lelcuk, Vice President of Research and Development, Security at Radware. “Robust security and privacy protection are not mutually exclusive of this new technology. The moment we allow these devices into our lives and our homes we invite a level of vulnerability and increase the threat landscape. If it’s important for vendors to monetize IoT and provide products and services to make our lives easier, then implementing security protocols such as device based authentication and access control to protect our personal privacy and information is just as critical.”

While 77% of respondents consider the IoT opportunity exciting, many still feel they are lacking the necessary technology, skills or tools:

  • 50% of developers don’t have or are unsure if they have the necessary technology today to deliver on IoT expectations
  • 50% of developers are unsure or definitely don’t have the necessary skills and resources today to deliver on IoT expectations
  • 45% do not feel they have the technology tools to gather, analyze and use contextual data from sensors
  • 30% experience data overload and feel overwhelmed trying to manage it all when managing data sets for contextualized IoT apps, for example, location-based.

IoT app development

When asked which industries are key to IoT app development, research respondents cited smart homes (19%), wearables (13%), automotive (11%) and sports/fitness (11%) as the primary markets. They also named these industries as having the highest IoT app revenue today. The public sector was at the bottom of the list (4%).

A shift is predicted in the next three to five years, with app developers expecting healthcare (14%), smart city (13%) and automotive (12%) as the top three industries for IoT app development and revenue generation. Public sector also rises to match today’s popular wearables market (both 8%).

Developers have cited Android as the best operating system (OS) for building apps for IoT devices (29%), followed by Windows (24%), Linux (21%) and iOS (16%).

Java proves the most popular platform/language used to collect and integrate data from the server side (55%), followed by PHP (17%) and Node.js (12%). Of respondents, 40% always or usually use a Rapid Application Development (RAD) tool to build apps, rather than building from scratch— a significant shift from traditional development approaches.

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