FIDO launches protocol to secure IoT onboarding to cloud and on-premise management platforms

The FIDO Alliance announced the launch of the FIDO Device Onboard (FDO) protocol, a new, open IoT standard which will enable devices to simply and securely onboard to cloud and on-premise management platforms.

Through this standard, the FIDO Alliance addresses challenges of security, cost and complexity tied to mass IoT device deployment.

FIDO Device Onboard furthers the fundamental vision of the Alliance, which has brought together 250+ of the most influential and innovative companies and government agencies from around the world to address cyber security in order to eliminate data breaches, and enable secure online experiences.

The IoT market is growing rapidly. IDC expects it to maintain a double-digit annual growth rate and surpass the $1 trillion mark in 2022.

Despite this projected growth, a recent survey of both providers and enterprise users, has found a majority of businesses have serious concerns about breaches to their infrastructures.

Of the 170 IoT leaders surveyed, they found that 85% say security concerns remain a major barrier to IoT adoption.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of respondents stated that end-to-end IoT security is their top short-term priority, surpassing edge compute (55%), artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (50%) and 5G deployments (28%).

The FIDO Alliance’s FDO specification for IoT was collaboratively developed to solve the issue of IoT security in onboarding – just as it has done with its FIDO authentication standards to help address the global data breach problem.

The specification has reached Proposed Standard status and is open and free to implement. Initially, the specification is targeted at industrial and commercial applications.

“The FIDO Device Onboard standard released today builds on the Alliance’s ongoing efforts to help close the security gaps that currently exist on the web, by expanding this work into IoT applications,” said Andrew Shikiar, executive director and CMO of the FIDO Alliance.

“Businesses recognize the huge potential of the IoT and the enormous benefits it can bring to manufacturing, retail, healthcare, transportation, logistics and more.

“The paradigm needs to shift immediately so we can move IoT technologies ahead with safer, stronger and more secure means of authentication for these important uses in industrial and commercial environments.”

A standard for fast, secure IoT device onboarding

FDO is an automated onboarding protocol for IoT devices, leveraging asymmetric public key cryptography to provide the industrial IoT industry with a fast and secure way to onboard any device to any device management system.

The business benefits from the FIDO Device Onboard standard include:

  • Simplicity – Businesses no longer have to pay more for the lengthy and highly technical installation process than they do for the devices themselves. The highly automated FDO process can be carried out by people of any level of experience quickly and efficiently.
  • Flexibility – Businesses can decide which cloud platforms they want to onboard devices to at the point of installation (as opposed to manufacture). A single device SKU can be onboarded to any platform, thereby greatly simplifying the device supply chain.
  • Security – FDO leverages an “untrusted installer” approach, which means the installer no longer needs – nor do they have access to – any sensitive infrastructure/access control information to add a device to a network.

“This is a major milestone that aims to solve one of today’s critical challenges with deploying IOT systems. The new FDO standard will help reduce cost, save time and improve security, all helping the IoT industry to expand rapidly,” said Christine Boles, Vice President, Internet of Things Group and General Manager, Industrial Solutions Division at Intel.

“Implementation of the FDO standard will enable businesses to truly take advantage of the full IoT opportunity by replacing the current manual onboarding process with an automated, highly secure industry solution.”

This is the latest FIDO Alliance initiative in its mission to reduce the world’s reliance on passwords with simpler, stronger authentication that prevents scalable attacks and account takeovers.

FIDO Device Onboard was developed through the work of the Alliance’s IoT Technical Working Group, led by co-chairs Richard Kerslake, Intel, Giridhar Mandyam, Qualcomm and Geof Cooper, Intel, Vice Chair. Additional companies with editors to the specification include Amazon Web services (AWS), Google, Microsoft and ARM.

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