Revolutionizing with the IoT
The Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionizing the way the world works and plays. In our pockets, on our desktops, and even on the walls of our homes and offices, web-enabled smart devices utilize a variety of embedded processors, sensors and communication hardware to collect data, which is then analyzed and acted on, often automatically. The IoT is an enabler of a larger digital transformation, producing vast quantities of data to be stored, transmitted and utilized over an ever-expanding global network.
This treasure trove of data feeds artificial intelligence platforms and data analytics applications and impacts nearly every aspect of our daily lives. But data shared between such a vast network of devices comes not without its risks, and concerns over the security of smart devices are ongoing.
For the IoT ecosystem to flourish, security must be integrated from inception, not as an afterthought. The Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), a global, member-driven technical standards development organization is working to enable trust, interoperability, and secure communication between internet protocol (IP)-connected IoT devices and services. It does this by fostering collaboration between stakeholders across the IoT ecosystem to deliver the freely-available ISO/IEC specifications, including the Secure IP Device Framework, its open-source reference implementation IoTivity, and an industry-recognized certification program. This enables innovative new secure use cases and user experiences, reduces development costs, integration complexity and time to market, and simplifies regulatory compliance to IoT security and privacy baselines.
The vertical-agnostic technology has already seen significant adoption in the smart home sector and is now enabling the transition to secure, intelligent, smart buildings and smart city infrastructure based on IP connectivity networks.
What is IoTivity?
We’ve established that IoT facilitates seamless connectivity, and brings many benefits into our daily lives. IoT improves machine efficiency and data sharing, enabling more informed decisions which optimizes processes. This improved communication helps identify risks, inefficiencies and potential bottlenecks within device networks.
Furthermore, IoT provides a competitive advantage by facilitating data-driven decisions and enabling new or optimized business models which enhance connectivity needs. Beyond convenience, standardization of IoT domains just makes sense, especially in a business context. It can open up access to new markets, reduces development costs, reduces integration complexity and time to market, simplifies regulatory compliance, enhances supply chains, and inspire further innovation.
IoTivity is an open-source framework that implements the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) standards and facilitates these benefits by providing easy and secure communications for IoT devices. The IoTivity project was created to bring together the open-source community to accelerate the development of the framework and services required to connect these billions of devices. Sponsored by the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), a group of industry leaders that have created a standard specification and certification program to address these challenges, the IoTivity project delivers a reference implementation of the ISO/IEC recognized OCF standard specifications.
Figure 1. IoTivity Communication Methods
Ultimately IoTivity supports secure connectivity across devices and domains, crucial for storing your data. Secure standards offer peace of mind to consumers, businesses and city planners alike, inspiring trust and confidence as IoT becomes more intertwined with every aspect of our personal and public lives.
How can IoTivity benefit your network?
Some of the key challenges faced within IoT are seen with non IP based standards technology which results in limited interoperability, proprietary protocols and technologies, licensing issues, companies creating a “Closed Ecosystem” (zero or limited Interoperability with other Vendor devices), low adoption of open standards by various industry consortiums, security and privacy concerns, dilemmas in “ownership” of data from variety of IoT devices, lack of strong certification for ensuring protocol & application profile and interoperability. A long list! IoTivity can help mitigate these challenges in a number of ways.
Unlike proprietary protocols, every OCF device has an IP address and as such can be administered by an IT professional. This removes the need for a specialist installer to configure a gateway. Currently proprietary systems will be connected to the internet and need a gateway to run between IP and non-IP which requires a specialist on-hand when the system is critical. Cutting out the need for this specialist is a huge cost benefit as proprietary platforms require specialist training. The use of IP means that any qualified individual can implement these systems.
OCF utilizes Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards, which incorporates standard methods involving certificates to enhance security. IT professionals can use role-based certificates as a solution to improve security. Certificates can then be adapted so only certain aspects of data can be accessed, creating an additional security layer. Furthermore, dedicated compliance and privacy rules that redact and anonymize sensitive data, before storing and disassociating IoT data payloads from information that can be used to personally identify consumers can be set.
Since OCF is free of any consumer ecosystem, anyone can run up their own cloud and deploy the OCF infrastructure while maintaining absolute control and privacy of their data. Any participant can rent a server, deploy infrastructure and control everything within the server farm. This is invaluable as nobody can see or monetize the data unless permission is given.
Finally, the OCF has put in place traceable links between security legislation and the compliance of the OCF specifications to the legislation. As clauses within legislation are directly mapped to clauses within the OCF specification, and the OCF (conformance test tool) CTT verifies conformance to the specifications, implementations are assured to comply with legislation worldwide. Through this, users, city planners and businesses can ‘compile their compliance’ and ensure data is being utilized securely, effectively and ethically.
Figure 2. ‘Compile your compliance’ for regulatory baseline IoT security
An agile and lightweight platform
IoTivity will run over a lightweight IP Protocol which includes ethernet, Wifi, cellular networks from 3G to 5G and Thread. It also fits into 96k of RAM/512k of Flash meaning it can be run over small, embedded and inexpensive devices. This lightweight implementation can be seen by OCF member Cascoda through its small, low power embedded module which can perform secure IP-based IoT communications. The OCF certified platform is based on an open-source software development kit (SDK) which offers OCF’s secure IP framework and application layer, Thread’s low-power and scalable IPv6-based network layer protocol; the required Thread IP router; and OCF cloud connectivity functionality. Learn more about secure embedded IoT using OCF and Thread in this whitepaper.
The efficient nature of the platform makes IoTivity a good choice for Linux developers looking to add secure connectivity to lightweight products and can be deployed as a package across a large number of machines.
Ready to start using IoTivity?
If you’re ready to create a successful Linux build using IoTivity with Make, CMake or mbedTLS, visit the IoTivity website here: http://iotivity.org/build_linux/
*First published in the Linux-Magazin February 2023 edition.