Symantec Joins AllSeen as IoT Group Increases Security Focus

The industry consortium has grown its membership to 50 in six months and is expanding its efforts beyond the connected home.

Internet of things

Symantec, Red Bend Software and Local Motors are among the newest members of the AllSeen Alliance, highlighting the open-source consortium's growing efforts around security and a broader reach for the Internet of things.

The addition of six new members and five more sponsored members brings the group's membership to 50 since it launched in December 2013 as a project of the Linux Foundation to develop an open framework for the Internet of things (IoT) based on the AllJoyn open-source code originally developed by Qualcomm.

"These new members reflect not only the AllSeen Alliance's momentum but the incredible diversity of the organizations taking part in this collaborative effort and the contributions from a broad, multi-faceted developer community," Joe Speed, director IoT at the Linux Foundation, said in a statement.

The Internet of things is growing as more intelligence is put into devices and systems—from smartphones and tablets to home appliances, cars and manufacturing systems—and those systems become connected. Cisco Systems predicts there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020 that will be sending data back and forth, and that organizations will be able to capture this data, analyze it and quickly use it to make business decisions and create more efficient processes.

While the benefits to businesses and consumers are numerous, more focus is now being given to the myriad security and privacy challenges around IoT, given the massive number of devices that are connecting to the Internet and the huge amount of data passing over networks. In a recent interview with eWEEK, Liat Ben-Zur, senior director of product management at Qualcomm Connected Experiences and chairman of the AllSeen Alliance, said discussions about IoT security are overdue.

"Fundamentally, the issue of security—and also privacy—[has moved] to the forefront of the conversation" regarding IoT, Ben-Zur said. "That's one thing that we really haven't seen being talked about enough."

She said the AllJoyn framework could help reduce the attack surface available to cyber-criminals that is created by the growing number of connected devices by giving users greater control over which connected systems are exposed to the Internet. Devices and services that adopt the AllJoyn framework will be able to autonomously discover and interact with each other regardless of the programming languages, tools, operating systems, hardware platforms or brands of each device. Users can decide which of the connected AllJoyn-based systems within their environments are allowed access to the Internet.

"You can let me decide what goes out onto the Internet," Ben-Zur said. "You start to imagine a much more controlled environment."

Symantec will bring more security expertise to the AllSeen Alliance.

"The Internet of Everything holds great promise for consumers, businesses and governments," Roxane Divol, senior vice president of alliances at Symantec, said in a statement. "However, as with every new technological development, we must also be mindful of new security threats."

Red Bend's solutions and services are designed to help manage the increasing amount of software on the IoT, according to AllSeen officials.

In addition, new members such as Local Motors—which among other programs is planning to make a line of 3D printed cars—are examples of AllSeen's efforts to expand beyond connected homes and into such areas as cars and industrial environments. Consortium officials pointed to numbers from Transparency Market Research that indicated the connected car market will hit $131.9 billion before the end of the decade. They also noted a report from the Pew Research Center Internet Project that talks about a thriving immersive and ubiquitous computing environment by 2025 that will include everything from cars and homes to environmental sensors and wearable devices.

Along with Symantec, Red Bend and Local Motors, the other new members are GEO Semiconductor, Octoblu and Razer. The five new sponsored members are Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Cable Labs, openHAB, Oriel College at Oxford University, Oxford University and Oxford University Computer Society.