Not so long ago we had corporate networks comprised of IBM servers and thin client terminals. Life was simple for the Network Administrator. Next, with the introduction of the PC, the world fast discovered the “sneaker net” as we all began exchanging data on a floppy disk. Skip ahead a generation and the miracle of Windows for Workgroups was the new norm. Suddenly the tools to hook the work laptop to the home PC and printer made “working from home” possible. The personal LAN was born and has been with us since in a variety of ways. The introduction of dependable Wi-Fi made it even easier with no more cables tying things down to one place. Everything “plugs” into the LAN one way or another: baby/security cams, storage, printers, PCs, TV’s, laptops and all with “no security” because the WIFI has a passcode.
Today we are all striving to add mobile and the network quite simply has not come along for the ride. As things fast move to mobile, whether it be phones or tablets, many pundits declare that PC’s are dead. It’s not PC’s that are dead but instead it is the PC based networking, the LAN, that is dead. That firewall that keeps our insecure local area network safe fails to meet the needs of the modern mobile network. To bypass the limitations of the local LAN many cloud-based service offerings provide everything from data sharing and storage to remote printing to messaging and yet that dramatically reduces security, privacy, and in cases of “free” services even injects advertising. That indispensable cloud, while worthy in many instances, is not the long-term solution to local network connectivity.
The solution is the Internet of Things (IoT). This IoT phenomena is the basis of a paradigm shift in network architecture. The market needs to move the picture of networking from IP addresses and ports to device identity and messaging. The routing protocol of messaging allows for complete end to end security with encryption while providing agility across multiple network fabrics whether Wi-Fi, IP, or even mobile carrier. This messaging protocol will enable new forms of anonymity and privacy while forming the foundation for new micropayment-based business models.
IoT architecture will become the new norm in the connected home and allow all devices to speak to each other. PC’s, tablets, phones, and more will act as the controllers for all things. In this new model there will not be any traditional hubs. While hubs for connectivity like a Wi-Fi hotspot or even an x10 signal converter will still be engaged the actual messaging between devices will be secure. Registration of devices is all that will be required to build this new global network. Soon one house can talk to the other. The car will be connected to the TV, the thermostat, the security system, and the phone will be the controller for everything.
And how does it all work in the real world? Imagine a Wi-Fi enabled baby-cam with embedded security. The user takes a photo of the QR code on their phone and the secure keys are created and swapped. Bluetooth or NFC will work as well. Add the baby-cam to the network and the devices will now be able to have an end to end secure communication. If Mom wants to share the feed she can send an invite to grandma or the babysitter or simply tap phones and now those users can watch the feed as well on secured devices. This will work worldwide and be secure. With no passwords the feed will be nearly impossible to steal. Mom will be in control and at any time can purge unwanted devices from the list of authorized devices. The modern home network delivered simple and safe.
The standards for this new network are fast beginning to evolve but to start any IoT project today we must first think about device identity, messaging, registration and encryption. Dozens of protocols can easily be supported as each message type is just a format. Messages are simply instructions for other devices and are encrypted with integrity data to ensure they have not been altered. This new network of secure Instructions will provide the foundation for the technology that replaces yesterday’s LAN. The device integrity and embedded security already delivered in modern devices assures the cyber security of keys and messages.
Steven Sprague, CEO, Rivetz Corp.