Interoperability, security issues could spoil the show for IoT


30 January 2015
Martin Manniche of Greenwave

How secure is your washing machine? Even as the number of connected devices continues to proliferate, security and interoperability could stand in the way of a real Internet of Things (IoT), says Martin Manniche, Chief Executive Officer of Greenwave Systems.

In Singapore recently for the opening of the company’s new IoT Solutions Centre, Manniche noted that developments in connectivity technologies have resulted in the proliferation of Internet- connected “smart” devices that are used for remote sensing and intelligent monitoring. However, these devices may not always use standardised protocols, he said.

For example, they could be running IoT-specific protocols such as ZigBee, RFID, Bluetooth and BACnet, or emerging next-generation protocol standards such as 802.15.4e, 6LoWPAN, RPL and CoAP which are attempting to unify the wireless sensor networks to the Internet

“This means that as the pace of growth of such connected solutions increases, there is a real problem of getting these disparate solutions to work together seamlessly under the IoT realm, and this could lead to interoperability challenges when used on a global scale.”

At the Singapore IoT Centre, one important R&D focus will be to expand the modular IoT architecture of Greenwave’s flagship Axon product to integrate easily with new standards, protocols and products that may emerge.

Axon is a managed services platform that connects devices using a wide range of popular wireless communication protocols and allows network-based services to be deployed in buildings and homes.

“Being able to integrate seamlessly with new emerging technologies is important,” said Manniche. “Our abstracted design enables the easy replacement and upgrade of underlying devices with new protocols and technologies without requiring changes to the overarching experiences, flows, rules and schedules.”

Another area that Greenwave is putting emphasis on is security. The next wave of connectivity will see freezers, washing machines, dishwashers and most objects around the home joining Internet TV and connected home-entertainment systems. These devices, however, have little to no security set on them, he pointed out. “If connected through a home Wi-Fi network, hackers can easily target such devices.”

According to Manniche, security is a “critical and core part” of Greenwave’s product design. “The fundamental communications model of our Axon platform is designed to prevent incoming hackers from communicating directly with the building,” he said.

For example, the Axon messaging platform connects in an outbound fashion, and remote communication to an Axon-enabled building can only be achieved through an authenticated cloud communication. “There is no compromised firewall required that can fall victim to hackers, but there is still a real time responsiveness of devices in the building/home.”

The communications technology also makes use of W3C and IETF principles for security by requiring remote communications to use SSL, and customer and client information is kept separate for anonymity and protection, said Manniche. “We take security very seriously.”