Enterprise IoT: Pushing security to the edge
Kirk Wolfe, VP of Corporate Development, Kollective, discusses cybersecurity solutions.
The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is becoming increasingly prevalent in the workplace. It seems that the corporate world is finally waking up to the possibilities of ‘wearables’, intelligent lighting systems, smart fridges and beyond.
In fact, telecommunications company Ericsson reports that there will be as many as 18 billion IoT devices globally by 2022. This staggering statistic illustrates the sheer number of devices that will be added to enterprise networks over the coming years.
There are many benefits that businesses will gain from fully realising the IoT’s potential — including reduced operating costs, improved productivity and enhanced efficiency.
However, with the network’s edge expanding this rapidly, regularly delivering essential updates could prove an almost impossible obstacle for IT teams to overcome. This could have huge consequences when it comes to keeping enterprise networks safe and secure when entering the IoT era.
A full two-thirds (66%) of IT teams view edge computing as a threat to their business operations, according to research from Kollective.
It’s obvious that the growing prominence of the IoT within enterprises has significantly raised the number of entry points for cybercriminals. Add to that the increase of employees bringing their own apps and devices onto business networks.
All of this brings a whole host of challenges for IT teams, from data leaking from an unsecured device to a malicious app being installed on a company smartphone. Making sure these devices are updated with the latest security patches will be vital in counteracting any threats moving forward.
Distributing these updates may prove difficult, however, with 90% of businesses saying that IT departments should test all updates before they are installed. This will require a considerable amount of resources in order to test, distribute and maintain a steady cadence of updates.
Currently, businesses can almost guarantee that all their computers and mobile devices run on a single operating system, Windows 10 for example. This dramatically simplifies the orchestration process of delivering updates.
Unfortunately for IT departments, IoT devices often run customized or open source operating systems that lack the security update functionality that comes as standard with the major players such as Microsoft and Google.
When you consider that 88% of IT leaders believe it’s the IT team’s responsibility to update IoT devices, you begin to see the scope of the challenge facing organizations in the future.
Additionally, there are regulatory concerns that are stalling the adoption of enterprise IoT. Almost a third of IT leaders (31%) believe there is a lack of clear rules. Despite regulations already being in place in both the US and UK, organizations don’t understand how they work in practice.
Laws, such as the European Union’s ‘Cybersecurity Act’, have been put in place to ensure more stringent checks and balances are introduced as we move into an era of increased interconnectivity. GDPR, for example, is ensuring businesses remove or destroy user’s personal data.
These regulations will hopefully push manufacturers to produce devices that are more secure and push end-users to protect themselves effectively by using complex passwords. Education and training, however is required for companies to fully comprehend how to keep up with the evolving regulatory landscape.
Clearly, there are many obstacles ahead when attempting to keep enterprise networks secure in the age of IoT. But what options do businesses have looking ahead?
Stagnation could be costly, with rival companies taking advantage of the increased efficiencies that IoT and edge computing allows. Getting information and updates to the network edge securely will be vital for organizations to stay competitive.
So, what is the solution to this challenging issue? When Kollective asked IT leaders what could be done to help them deliver security patches to the edge of their networks, 47% said increased investment in software-defined networking infrastructure.
Without putting any additional strain on the network, a Software-Defined Enterprise Content Delivery Network (SD -ECDN) can keep thousands of devices up-to-date and secure, right to the edge of the network.
Already, many businesses are using an ECDN to distribute critical video messages and software updates to the edge of their network. As such, there’s no reason why — one day in the future — the exact same technology couldn’t be used to distribute security patches for the internet of things.
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Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.