Verizon is working overtime to alleviate customers' concerns regarding security for Internet of Things applications and services.
During last month's Mobile World Congress in Spain, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) announced it had updated its IoT "ThingsSpace" platform, which included addressing security concerns through its new IoT Security Credentialing (IoT SC) technology. (See Verizon Opens More Doors to IoT platform.)
IoT Security Credentialing, which will be available on ThingSpace in May, adds an "over-the-top (OTT) layer of security to aid developers in protecting devices and applications regardless of the service provider or type of transport -- cellular, WiFi, wireline, etc. -- that's being used." There's also additional security for customers at the edge of the network via IoT SC.
In this second installment of Telco Transformation's interview with Verizon's Mark Bartolomeo, vice president of IoT Connected Solutions, he talks about security, Verizon's IoT core and data analytics. In the first installment he provided details on other upgrades to ThingSpace. (See Bartolomeo Provides Insight on Verizon's IoT Platform.)
Telco Transformation: Security is a big issue in the minds of consumers. Can you talk about IoT SC and how you're addressing those security concerns?
Mark Bartolomeo: I'll say right off the bat that security is one of those items where it's never enough. There's never enough that's being done by anyone, anywhere. The way that we break it down is into three areas. Number one, it's about the cloud infrastructure, which is the hosting, the classic cyber security and protecting those assets.
Second, it's the network. Within our network infrastructure, there are two security elements that we drive. The first one is our mobile private network, which secures that communication so it's not going onto the Internet. The second is our network analytics, which is monitoring your data communication sessions into things like an electric meter. It absolutely knows what patterns of communication should be occurring. It's looking for anomalies in those patterns to understand where there may be a breach or some type of destructive attempt to enter into a vehicle or a meter, and it creates alerts.
The third piece of that IoT chain is the device itself. In May, we're commercially launching our IoT credentialing service, which gives you the ability to download certificates onto the device, then have those certificates authenticate back to the host as a valid device on your network. Managed certificate services also address how it's secured at the edge.
TT: Aside from the big three elements you just outlined, what else are you looking at from a security perspective?
MB: One of the other things that I'm looking at right now is block chain technology. How we would potentially use block chain as additional layers of security for data and data encryption.
TT: What impact is SDN and NFV having on Verizon's IoT platform?
MB: We see virtualization and software-defined networks as a way to move much more data at a higher rate of efficiency at a lower cost. Those are the drivers. The proposition is: If I came to you as a network provider and said, "Next year, you're going to have to move ten times the data," you're going to have to find a different solution. You can't keep attacking this thing with proprietary hardware and business as usual. It's really a combination of virtualization and a software-defined network.
TT: So SDN and NFV are in the plans, what else will Verizon do to enable IoT products and services?
MB: One thing that people don't talk a lot about is our fiber build. It's critical. One of the things that we've been doing over the past four years is an extremely aggressive fiber build-out where we're consuming as much fiber as possible. We've been on a mission to replace the copper plant, get fiber-to-the-home and fiber-to-the-business. We're putting more and more fiber in the ground to support the tower communications into the core network and the backhaul. I think those are the big elements.
The other reason we're doing fiber is because we need to move ten times more data, and we need to do that in 98% of the US where we currently have coverage. We need to do it with exactly the same level of reliability, and we need to return money to shareholders. That's hard stuff.
TT: Will most of the early products and services be provisioned over narrowband IoT?
MB: For narrowband, we launched a Cat1 LTE network near the end of last year and we're working with Sequans and Gemalto. This year, we're looking at -- I'm not going to say broad -- CATM launches, but we'll do some commercial field testing the same way we're doing commercial field testing today for 5G. We see the low-power modules as a way to reduce the cost to the customer who's putting these devices in a meter or some other Cat1 use case. We'll also use it in our IoT core where we'll be carrying this transportation.
TT: How is the IoT core different than what you use today?
MB: When you look at our networks today, our core, our IMS network, those networks were built to be really sophisticated, carrying smartphone traffic in a highly managed arena to give you tremendous visibility end-to-end.
That's a very different network function than, say, a static electric meter sitting on a network, or a device that's sitting out on a weather station. It may never send a communication session. It may only communicate in the event of an exception. That's how we see leveraging the IoT core network that we're building out to specifically handle CAT1 and CATM devices. We think that CAT1 and CATM combined with the IoT core, combined with our existing radio access networks and cellular networks, all of that is a win for us in IoT.
TT: You mentioned analytics earlier, can you give us more details on how you are using data anlytics?
MB: We're an infrastructure company and we can build infrastructure, but I think with the customer this is where we really begin to leverage our IoT data analytics. We're launching our analytics solutions in IoT this year, starting with descriptive analytics, to really give you a view of how various devices and conditions are impacting whatever use case they are monitoring. For example, look at our Track and Trace program in healthcare. What are the environmental conditions and locations that are the most challenging for pharmaceutical companies when they're shipping drugs?
The second element is predictive analytics, particularly in areas like smart cities. We are working with them to take current environmental data that they have today about the municipality, and then combining it with historical data to help them determine ways to reduce congestion. For example, there's a water main break on Fifth Avenue. Based on the time of day, the location and historical data, they would actually know the best way to reroute that traffic to avoid congestion and be able to evacuate the area.
The third element of this is the prescriptive analytics, where we really begin to affect machine automation by looking at environmental data. Let's say in agriculture, things like temperature, soil moisture and humidity can be combined with third-party data, which includes historical weather information from NOA, NASA and The Weather Channel. When certain areas of a vineyard are too dry, instead of making a recommendation to water, it would be automated machine irrigation based on all of these analytics. We think that analytics is absolutely imperative for IoT. You can't have IoT without data analytics. I think it's extremely foundational from that perspective.
— Mike Robuck, editor, Telco Transformation