IoT technology gets new international standards

The ISO has released a reference architecture for IoT, as adoption of the technology gathers pace.
27 November 2018

A graphene chip used for IoT held at Mobile World Congress 2018. Source: AFP

A new international standard has been laid out for the Internet of Things (IoT), providing the informational framework required for the wide adoption of connected technology and smart sensors in society.

Issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the new standard is called ISO/IEC 30141, and serves as an internationally standardized reference architecture for IoT/Industrialized Internet of Things (IIoT) common vocabulary, reusable designs and industry best practice.

Introducing the standard comes as management consultancy firm Bain & Company predicts the combined IoT markets to grow to US$520 billion in 2021, more than double the US$235 billion spent in 2017.

The fastest-growing segment will be data center and analytics, set to grow by approximately 50 percent between 2017 to 2021, with Cloud Service Providers increasingly providing IoT services, consulting and analytics.

Source: Bain & Company

While confidence and growth forecasts are high, however, adoption is hampered by concerns around the security of the technology and integrations with existing technology. A universal standard will certainly go some way in addressing these issues.

According to Symantec’s John Cook, as reported by Digital Journal, the rapid growth of the market has seen many companies vie for a share, while a lack of adequate standards has seen technology developed with inadequate regard for security.

“A lot of the manufacturing behind IoT devices today feels like the Gold Rush… everyone wants to get there in a hurry,” said Cook. “You effectively have people staking out a claim in the area without further thought to security.”

The growing role of ‘smart factories’ in manufacturing, for example, sees IIoT systems being deployed without sufficient measures and processes in place to defend networks from external cyber attacks, which in many cases, can be devastating.

A recent report by cybersecurity company CyberX found that some 40 percent of ‘smart factories’ are connected, one way or another, to public internet, effectively leaving the door open for malware attacks originating from off-site

According to Dr. François Coallier, Chair of the joint technical committee of ISO and the International Technical Commission that developed the standard, “we saw a need for a reference architecture to maximize the benefits and reduce the risks”.

ISO/IEC 30141 aims to do just that, providing a common framework for designers and developers of IoT applications and enabling systems that are “trustworthy”, meaning they are reliable, safe, secure, respect privacy and can withstand disruptions such as natural disasters and attacks.

“There are already many published standards for resilience, safety and security,” adds Coallier, “and this standard will provide the reference architecture to apply them to IoT systems.”

“From autonomous vehicles to precision agriculture, smart manufacturing, e-health, and smart cities, the Internet of Things (IoT) is already everywhere – and growing,” the ISO’s communications specialist Clare Naden wrote in a blog post.

“The applications are endless, but as the phenomenon explodes, so too does the need for trust, security and a base from which the technology can be developed further, with robust measures and systems in place.”