SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Internet of Things won’t live up to its promise unless engineers redouble their efforts to develop high-quality, secure, and interoperable software. Even then, new programming techniques and even legislation may be needed.
That’s the message that Vint Cerf, a co-developer of the Internet Protocol and chief internet evangelist for Google, shared with colleagues at a recent technical gathering.
“We should be extremely thoughtful about the quality of IoT software,” Cerf told EE Times in an interview. “People are relying on these things to work autonomously, and these days, almost anything can become a programmable, communicating device because the chips are so inexpensive.”
Security remains perhaps the biggest of several related concerns. Cerf recounted the October 2016 attack on Dyn Corp. that took it and many other companies for which it resolves domain names off the web for a time.
“I used to joke that my biggest concern was that 100,000 refrigerators will attack Bank of America, and now with Dyn’s experience, that’s real,” he said.
The answer, Cerf believes, is developing the discipline to apply existing tools such as digital certificates and authentication using encrypted keys.
“I’m relatively persuaded that we have all the technology we need for strong authentication. But we probably need to figure out how to organize the mechanisms for tasks like updating devices online, transferring ownership of devices, and operating them at scale.”
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