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IoT security solutions are lacking, AT&T engineer says

The convenience offered by internet of things devices comes with unresolved security issues, due to the complexity of systems and the market's immaturity, according to Simon Hu, solutions engineer at AT&T Inc. Cybersecurity Australia.

The prevalence of internet of things, or IoT, devices makes it easier for user information to be extracted through cyberattacks as "everything is connected, and your information flows through [a single] platform," Hu told S&P Global Market Intelligence during Hong Kong's Cloud and Security Expo on May 23.

With smart speakers, including Inc.'s Alexa, the concerns are data protection as well as cybersecurity.

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However, the IoT industry has not seen promising solutions yet, according to Hu. "It is a complex problem because you need many steps to solve the security issue," he said.

To begin with, identifying the security vulnerability can be challenging as devices are running on a wide range of operating systems, Hu said.

Device makers are mostly using open-source operating system Linux, but this is modified into very different platforms by each vendor. "The solutions targeted at different issues are specific to cases based on their systems," he explained.

Additionally, the IoT industry has not matured yet, Hu said. The market is still developing and growing, with the focus being on innovation instead of regulation, he said. "The market has not been standardized," he said, "and the industry is not at the stage of looking for solutions to problems."

Cybersecurity concerns seem to be impacting the growth of the IoT market. According to a Bain & Co. study published June 2018, enterprise customers are limiting investment in IoT because of security concerns. They would buy at least 70% more IoT products if security concerns were resolved, the study found.

The global IoT market will reach over US$200 billion in 2020, while the Asia-Pacific market will grow to US$95.7 billion by the end of 2022, according to consulting and research firm Frost & Sullivan.

The AT&T Cybersecurity team conducts 100 billion potential probes for vulnerabilities across the company's global IP network every day, Hu said.