Telefónica flags IoT security risk, calls for common standards

Telefónica warned that Internet of Things (IoT) security standards are lagging the sector's pace of development and said the industry must quickly develop common safety standards to protect consumers and businesses.

The Spain-headquartered operator said research by its cyber security and IoT divisions showed that a cautious approach to the IoT is required to truly unlock the "infinite benefits" of the market.

In a report prepared in conjunction with several cyber security organisations, the operator said little attention has been paid to the risks that cyber attacks pose to the IoT sector and called for the development of consistent security standards and regulations to alleviate such dangers.

Chema Alonso, CEO of Telefónica's cyber security unit ElevenPaths, commented that security standards must go beyond simply protecting personal data and securing digital identities.

"In the next few years our lives will be surrounded by devices connected to the Internet that will digitalise every step we take," Alonso said, noting that such developments will blur the line between "the digital world and the real world". That muddying of the waters makes it essential that the IoT industry identifies potential threats quickly, to "guarantee we are able to offer a complete protection plan, taking advantage of all the knowledge that has been developed for other scopes."

Telefónica prepared the report in conjunction with cyber security organisations including the Organisation of American States' Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE), the National Microelectronics Institute (NMI), the University of Cantabria's Network Planning and Mobile Comms Group, Kaspersky Lab, Sigfox, and Intel Corporation Iberia.

The Internet of Things Security Foundation was another contributor. Director John Moor noted that most attention on the IoT in recent years has been on the opportunities the sector offers, while "there has been relatively little on its dark underbelly."

Moor added that security standards are essential to avoid "sleepwalking into a lot of problems -- some of which may not have been seen before."

CICTE program manager Belisario Contreras agreed, stating that the pace of development in the IoT markets "is also affecting compatibility issues as the security measures for some devices and/or platforms may not be compatible with others as newer versions are released."

IDC last month predicted global IoT spending would grow from $698.6 billion (€640 billion) in 2015 to almost $1.3 trillion in 2019.

For more:
- see this Telefónica announcement

Related articles:
IDC: Global spending on IoT to reach $1.3T in 2019
Sigfox notches up 12th market as it rolls out IoT network in Ireland
Verizon follows AT&T and picks Ericsson LPWA software for IoT
CCS Insight: Wearables and connected home among dominant themes at CES
Telefónica, MTN announce strategic partnership