Verizon Enterprise Solutions has introduced Managed Certificate Services (MCS), a cloud-based, scalable solution aimed at better securing the fast-climbing number of things—from smartphones to smart meters and smart cars—now connecting to the Internet.
MCS authenticates objects and machines and ensures that data is safely transmitted between connections, whether from machine to machine or device to machine. Security is offered on the device level, and the data flowing in and out is encrypted.
MCS offers cloud-based certificates that eliminate the need for "expensive hardware and complex implementations," Verizon said in a Nov. 19 statement. Its fully managed environment, it added, enables clients to focus on their core businesses, "without the complexity and cost of managing and monitoring their certificate infrastructure."
MCS is offered as a pay-as-you-go service, enabling businesses to pay for what they need, when they need it.
"These days, there's more required to provide a complete end-to-end security model," Johan Sys, a managing principal with Verizon Enterprise Solutions, told eWEEK. "Very specifically, with the Internet of things, we have challenges in doing this that we don't have in the enterprise. It's dealing with [a much] larger numbers of things."
Cisco has forecast that while there will be about 3.6 billion Internet users by 2017 (up from 2.3 billion in 2012), the number of network connections from fixed and mobile devices will surpass 19 billion, up from 2012's 12 billion.
MCS can also help enterprises address new regulatory guidelines for connected devices, such as those utility companies face around smart meters. Sys offered examples of a number of other industries that could benefit.
When a consumer purchases a television, content pushed down by the content provider needs to be authorized; certificates can be added in the factory, enabling this. When the firmware needs to be updated, MCS certificates can also control what's downloaded, ensuring it's secure and from the appropriate source.
In the public sector, e-passport ID cards are issued to doctors, enabling them to access the hospital and protected areas, as well as access patient information. Each connection the cards make can be authenticated and secured.
Connected cars are another broad market.
"When you have a local network consulting on things like a car engine or brakes, you can update the parameters. But if you deploy through the car an additional certificate, you can control what software can be pushed to the car and who can control the system," said Sys.
Just as the Internet can be overloaded to create a denial of service, he explained, there's a danger of car systems being overloaded and control of the car taken over.
"You see it with air conditioning units—it can be overloaded," said Sys. "So there's a physical danger, not just an Internet security risk."
MCS is now available in the United States and Europe, with the Asia-Pacific region to follow in December.
"It's not a complete security solution in itself, but a key piece of a solution," said Sys. "It's a first line of defense."
EDITOR'S NOTE: The original version of this article misstated Mr. Sys' last name. Our apologies.