Deep Armor Technologies Pvt. Ltd. is a leading Indian IoT company serving the segments such as Smart Wearable, Industry 4.0 and Smart BFSI through its smart cyber security solutions.
In an exclusive interaction with EFY bureau, Sumanth Naropanth, Founder & CEO of Deep Armor, talks about the technologies shaping the IoT future, importance of standards in IoT deployment, security of IoT solutions and much more.
Q. In your opinion, which are the top 3 technologies that are shaping the future of IoT? How are they influencing the future of IoT?
Cellular IoT/5G, Cloud technologies and Cybersecurity are going to be the three primary topics shaping the future of Internet of Things (IoT). We can expect use cases for IoT to grow exponentially in the coming years. Connectivity becomes a challenge as you add millions of devices to the network. 5G is designed for low-power form factor devices that need to communicate between themselves and with remote backend services hosted on modern cloud platforms. To keep pace with the advent of such vast number of devices, we’ll see more and more computing shift to the cloud, which will evolve to offer and support specialised services for these devices. When you have such a wide spectrum of technologies coming together, security becomes critical and challenging at the same time. We’ll see new classes of attacks on IoT products, and correspondingly, the evolution of new security best practices to address them.
Q. How’s the development of standards (or lack of it) affecting the adoption of IoT?
Lack of standardisation is already affecting the adoption of IoT and it’s going to get worse. There are no fixed form factors for these classes of platforms. An IoT device can range from a pacemaker inside a human body to a smart traffic light in a smart city. It is very difficult to derive a blueprint for an IoT architecture, and this complicates the drive for standardisation. When it comes to communication protocols, there are dozens of ‘standards’ and specifications for designing and implementing low power wireless channels. Some vendors choose proprietary RF protocols, while others go with open standards.
For small business and startups, determining the right standard is therefore a crucial step. A ‘wrong’ choice may affect the use cases, interoperability and ultimately the business prospects of their IoT solutions. All these issues are affecting the adoption of IoT.
Q. How ready is India’s tech eco-system to develop and deploy IoT solutions?
India is taking big strides in the IoT space. We see a spurt in the number of startups and small businesses adopting IoT to achieve better data collection, analytics and through that offer better use cases and solutions for existing problems. Agriculture, transportation and health care sectors in India are all actively exploring IoT solutions. The large corporates, which have been exploring IoT solutions for a few years now, are increasingly using India as the design, development and testing center for their work.
Q. Do you foresee India’s tech industry developing its own IP and branded products/solutions in the IoT arena?
Absolutely! I think the startups will play a big role in developing IPs in India and promoting branded solutions and products. Modern cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure offer advanced and capable frameworks that enable small enterprises to quickly design, develop, deploy and scale up Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based solutions for IoT use cases. On the hardware side, companies are able to find low cost solutions for the form factor devices. All of this helps to offer an entire platform at very attractive prices, while keeping the operating costs low. At Deep Armor, we’ve been approached by several Indian startups and small companies, asking for recommendations for implementing security flows, device attestation and cryptographic capabilities on small form factor devices, which is very encouraging to see.
Q. Do you see the Open Source phenomenon play an important role in the IoT arena?
Yes, in a big way. IoT platforms are often a bag of parts coming together and offering a variety of value-added services. Vendors and manufacturers rarely develop all pieces of the IoT offering themselves. Open source software and standards work very well, especially for the small and medium sized businesses working on IoT solutions, because they can now put together their solutions much faster without compromising on quality, when they use vetted solutions. We also see extensive use of Linux and its derivatives as the primary operating system stack for IoT platforms, so the open source phenomenon is really at the core of the IoT arena.
Q. How do you see the role, technologies like AI/ML will play in the evolution of IoT solutions?
Almost all IoT platforms and solutions revolve around one topic – data. The purpose of IoT solutions is to collect, process, store, manage and present data to users in various formats. As the adoption of IoT increases globally, we’ll be collecting humongous volumes of data. Processing such vast amounts of data is no mean task. AI/ML will play a major role in interpreting that data in an automated fashion, developing models and assisting scientists and engineers to process that data to make it meaningful.
Q. What’s your opinion on the state of security available for IoT solutions? How do you see the evolution from hereon, w.r.t threats and counter-measures?
Security in the IoT space is very nascent. The problems discussed earlier – the absence of a generic IoT architecture, the plethora of standards (which really is indicative of the lack of good standards) and rapid time to market are all challenges in developing and deploying secure IoT solutions. Startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) often lack in-house expertise to perform detailed threat analysis and vulnerability assessments to assess the security quality of their solutions. Many IoT solutions live and operate in the vicinity of humans (wearables, health & wellness devices, etc.), so privacy is just as important as security when it comes to these solutions.
Security of IoT solutions requires deep understanding of the ingredients that make up the platform as well as the ecosystem as a whole. Attacks against the device hardware and firmware, communication protocols, device – mobile – cloud interconnects, etc., are very possible and are no longer theoretical. We’re seeing a paradigm shift in the way security is being addressed now for IoT solutions, as against the software and hardware solutions of yesteryears.
Q. W.r.t. edge vs cloud – where do you think will we see faster development in the next year or two?
Edge vs Cloud is going to be a neck-to-neck race. While there are several players in the modern cloud space, we’re seeing an increasing adoption of AWS, GCP and Azure by many IoT vendors. These are large corporates, dedicating large budgets and skilled staff in making their solutions better and user-friendly. We’re seeing very good solutions and services from all the cloud service providers that support IoT platforms.
The edge devices need to evolve from the traditional designs, supporting large networks. Thanks to improvements in transistor technologies and development of powerful, yet low-power and small form factor SoCs and micro-controllers, there are options for integrating powerful software stacks on the edge devices, which can even run full operating systems while on battery power.
In order to provide consistent quality of services, we’ll need both – the edge as well as the cloud to mature together and move rapidly.
Q. What are the key technologies missing, which when made available, will accelerate adoption of IoT across the globe?
I believe that lack of good data processing capabilities is still the biggest factor pulling back the adoption of IoT across the globe. There’s no dearth of ideas today. We’re designing and making a broad spectrum of IoT devices already. But we do not yet know how to consume all that data in a useful manner to the end-customers. In that sense, we need to go a long way, especially in the AI/ML space, to learn to process the data and to make it usable.
Security for IoT is another aspect that’s often marginalised but is extremely key for adoption at scale. Security and Privacy Development Lifecycle (SDLC/SPDL) needs to be revamped to suit these bleeding-edge technologies. Driving standards for IoT security and developing skills in this domain is going to become very necessary as we progress in the adoption of IoT across the globe.