Security is top of mind for Internet of Things Thread Group

While federal regulatory officials and others want to make sure the Internet of Things (IoT) puts security at the forefront, the Thread Group says it made sure security was baked into the networking protocol from the get-go. Thread is a new IP-based low-power wireless mesh networking protocol designed specifically for the home.

"Security is absolutely critical," said Chris Boross, president of the Thread Group and technical product marketing manager at Nest. "We've basically redeveloped the network security inside of Thread to make it simple to use but also extremely secure… It's one of the things that we designed really from the ground up to provide really robust network security."

Where other networking protocols basically allow service providers to optionally enable security on the home network, "we didn't see why it needed to be optional," he told FierceWirelessTech. Security is one of the main things that will be thoroughly tested on every product that is Thread certified.

"Network security with Thread is completely mandatory on all devices that ship," he said. "Network security is absolutely fundamental to home networking," where safety and security are expected. "It's not just for 'nice to have' things in your home that may or may not need security. This is for critical infrastructure in your home... Stuff that just has to work and has to be secure."

The Thread Group this week officially began accepting applications for its Innovation Enabler program, which encourages startups to pitch their products and services to the group in exchange for membership for up to 18 months.

It's a way for the Thread Group to build innovation by picking companies that don't have the means to pay for membership, according to Boross. The group plans to pick one company per quarter, with the first one to be named before the end of this calendar-year first quarter. "We wanted to put together a program that would be able to support those young companies that don't have much in the way of funds yet, and basically allow them to pitch the Thread Group" about why they should receive a free 18-month membership, he said.

"It's just a way for us to be able to help innovation in the connected home space by picking companies we think have great ideas for products and services," and helping them out by giving them membership, waiving product certification fees and maybe help market their products as well, assuming they're going to build products that use Thread, he said.

One of the missions of the Thread Group is to work with other alliances to promote Thread's use with other application protocols, Boross said. Thread is a networking protocol, and its advocates want it to work with other alliances that provide application layers to create an overall combined solution using Thread as a networking layer in the home.   

Thread now has more than 80 member companies. Among recent additions to its board of directors are Somfy, which specializes in home control products, and Tyco, the largest fire protection and security solutions company. As sponsor-level members, they join Thread's seven founding members--ARM, Big Ass Fans, Freescale Semiconductor, Nest Labs, Samsung Electronics, Silicon Labs and Yale Security--in their goal of establishing the widespread adoption of Thread technology in the connected home.

Thread-certified products are expected to start rolling out commercially in the second half of this year.

For more:
- see this press release

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