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New onboarding standard to secure Internet of Things launched

By Shannon Williams
Wed 21 Apr 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

A new onboarding standard to secure Internet of Things has been created by the FIDO Alliance. 

The FIDO Device Onboard protocol is a new, open IoT standard that enables devices to simply and securely onboard to cloud and on-premise management platforms. 

Through the standard, the FIDO Alliance aims to addresses challenges of security, cost and complexity tied to IoT device deployment at scale. 

IDC expects the IoT market to maintain a double-digit annual growth rate and surpass the $1 trillion mark in 2022. Despite this projected growth, a recent survey of both providers and enterprise users, has found a majority of businesses have serious concerns about breaches to their infrastructures. 

Of the 170 IoT leaders surveyed, the survey found that 85% say security concerns remain a major barrier to IoT adoption. Almost two-thirds (64%) of respondents stated that end-to-end IoT security is their top short-term priority, surpassing edge compute (55%), artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (50%) and 5G deployments (28%).

The FIDO Alliances FDO specification for IoT was collaboratively developed to solve the issue of IoT security in onboarding just as it has done with its FIDO authentication standards to help address the global data breach problem. The FDO specification has reached Proposed Standard status and is open and free to implement. Initially, the specification is targeted at industrial and commercial applications. Developers can view and download the specification at https://fidoalliance.org/specifications/download-iot-specifications/

"The FIDO Device Onboard standard builds on the Alliance's ongoing efforts to help close the security gaps that currently exist on the web, by expanding this work into IoT applications," Andrew Shikiar, executive director and CMO of the FIDO Alliance. 

"Businesses recognise the huge potential of the IoT and the enormous benefits it can bring to manufacturing, retail, healthcare, transportation, logistics and more," he says. 

"The paradigm needs to shift immediately so we can move IoT technologies ahead with safer, stronger and more secure means of authentication for these important uses in industrial and commercial environments."

A Standard for Fast, Secure IoT Device Onboarding

FDO is an automated onboarding protocol for IoT devices, leveraging asymmetric public key cryptography to provide the industrial IoT industry with a fast and secure way to onboard any device to any device management system.

The business benefits from the FIDO Device Onboard standard include:

  • Simplicity Businesses no longer have to pay more for the lengthy and highly technical installation process than they do for the devices themselves. The highly automated FDO process can be carried out by people of any level of experience quickly and efficiently.
  • Flexibility Businesses can decide which cloud platforms they want to onboard devices to at the point of installation (as opposed to manufacture). A single device SKU can be onboarded to any platform, thereby greatly simplifying the device supply chain.
  • Security FDO leverages an untrusted installer approach, which means the installer no longer needs nor do they have access to any sensitive infrastructure/access control information to add a device to a network.

"This is a major milestone that aims to solve one of todays critical challenges with deploying IoT systems," says Christine Boles, vice president, Internet of Things Group and general manager, Industrial Solutions Division at Intel.

"The new FDO standard will help reduce cost, save time and improve security, all helping the IoT industry to expand rapidly," she says. 

"Implementation of the FDO standard will enable businesses to truly take advantage of the full IoT opportunity by replacing the current manual onboarding process with an automated, highly secure industry solution."

This is the latest FIDO Alliance initiative in its mission to reduce the worlds reliance on passwords with simpler, stronger authentication that prevents scalable attacks and account takeovers. FIDO Device Onboard was developed through the work of the Alliances IoT Technical Working Group, led by co-chairs Richard Kerslake, Intel, Giridhar Mandyam, Qualcomm and vice chair Geof Cooper, Intel. Additional companies with specification editors including Arm, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google and Microsoft.

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