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#MWC2017: IoT Adoption Continues to Present Security Challenges

The internet of things (IoT) will soon be widespread, as 85% of businesses plan to implement it by 2019—opening up a big tear in the cybersecurity fabric at enterprises.

The Internet of Things: Today and Tomorrow report, published by Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Aruba division, confirms the clear business benefits from investments in IoT. However, Aruba’s report cautions that connecting thousands of things to existing business networks has already resulted in security breaches for the majority of organizations.

The research questioned 3,100 IT and business decision makers across 20 countries to evaluate the current state of IoT and its impact across different industries. The study shows that while virtually all business leaders (98%) have an understanding of IoT, many are unclear of the exact definition of IoT and what it means for their business.

“The ‘internet of things’ means sensors connected to the internet and behaving in an internet-like way by making open, ad hoc connections, sharing data freely and allowing unexpected applications, so computers can understand the world around them and become humanity’s nervous system technology,” said tech visionary Kevin Ashton—who coined the term “internet of things,” in an Aruba eBook.

When examining the business benefits of IoT, Ashton discovered that the real-world benefits gained from IoT exceeded even the original expectations. This “expectations dividend” is evident in two key performance areas: business efficiency and profitability.

As an example, only 16% of business leaders projected a large profit gain from their IoT investment, yet post-adoption, 32% of executives realized profit increases. Similarly, only 29% of executives expected their IoT strategies to result in business efficiency improvements, whereas actual results show that 46% experienced efficiency gains.

“With the business benefits of IoT surpassing expectations, it’s no surprise that the business world will move towards mass adoption by 2019,” said Chris Kozup, vice president of marketing at Aruba. “But with many executives unsure of how to apply IoT to their business, those who succeed in implementing IoT are well positioned to gain a competitive advantage.”

Yet, Aruba's research reveals that alongside these positive returns, the study also uncovers that security flaws are found across many IoT deployments. The study shows that 84% of organizations have experienced an IoT-related security breach. More than half of respondents declared that external attacks are a key barrier to embracing and adopting an IoT strategy.

That said, a holistic IoT security strategy, built on strong network access control and policy management, will not only protect enterprises but also simplify the security approach for IT.

 “While IoT grows in deployment, scale and complexity, proper security methodologies to protect the network and devices, and more importantly, the data and insights they extract, must also keep pace,” Kozup added. “If businesses do not take immediate steps to gain visibility and profile the IoT activities within their offices, they run the risk of exposure to potentially malicious activities.”

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