Machine to Machine Technology adoption set to explode by 2015, but are we ready?

AdaptiveMobile research shows high expectations for M2M technology but highlights worrying vulnerabilities that can already be exploited today

AdaptiveMobile, the world leader in mobile security today reveals that machine to machine (M2M) technology is on the verge of widespread adoption, with 10% of UK residents already using it regularly and 54% expecting their phone to talk to, unlock and start their car by 2015. While awareness is high, however, so too is concern over security, with 86% of respondents stating that they see risks associated with M2M technology. AdaptiveMobile will be demonstrating the reality of these threats at Mobile World Congress, with the remote hacking and unlocking of a front door via a mobile phone.

According to AdaptiveMobile’s fourth Global Security Insights in Mobile (GSIM) report1, up to 5 billion M2M devices that communicate over mobile networks could be in operation by 2020, and this growth combined with advances in cloud computing and wireless technology creates a huge opportunity for operators. A primary concern for users, however, is privacy and crime so this must be addressed before the full benefits of M2M can be realised, especially as the technology is being rolled out now.

Cathal McDaid, Security Consultant at AdaptiveMobile comments: “M2M technology is already a reality in lots of industries, including healthcare, utilities and advertising. Heart rate monitors are connected to alarm systems to monitor patient vital signs, for example, so the potential for this technology is huge.

“With this opportunity comes risk, however, and having devices connected across mobile networks creates several issues, for example, machines communicating without human supervision could mean vulnerabilities and exploits go unnoticed.”

According to the GSIM report, 49% of consumers believe M2M technology could make it easier for thieves to hack into their homes or cars and almost two thirds (60%) expect a high risk of having their personal information exposed via M2M systems. When it comes to whose responsibility security is, one third (33%) of respondents believe the manufacturer, device retailer and wireless provider should be responsible for managing these risks together, with one fifth (20%) believing that the operator alone should shoulder the responsibility.

McDaid concludes: “Clearly the onus is on the providers of M2M technology to protect users from security threats and we can help operators protect trust in their network by preventing mobile attacks across all traffic sources, whilst still capitalising on the M2M opportunity to grow revenues and retain customers.

Moving forward, it is critical that dedicated, tailored security is created for M2M and delivered at a network level to allow operators, device manufacturers and end-users to rely on these devices without needing to worry about security. As we move closer to a market where M2M becomes more dominant, ensuring the security of these devices will be of paramount importance.

To view a demonstration of a front door being hacked via compromised M2M technology, please view the video opposite or the AdaptiveMobile team will be happy to discuss it with you, at Mobile World Congress in meeting room 4.6HS01.

1. The GSIM report is partly based on a 2011 research project conducted for INSEAD Business School, by Cathal Mc Daid, Security Consultant, Adaptivemobile

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