Is security talked about too much in M2M?

On Tuesday at CeBIT in Hannover, Germany, the M2M Zone listened as executives spoke about security in the machine-to-machine (M2M) industry.  All the panelists on the roundtable seemed to agree that too much emphasis and concern is being placed on the privacy of M2M applications.


 “We are far too concerned about some of these things,” says Larsh Johnson, founder and CTO of eMeter Corporation (San Mateo, Calif., USA). “Everything smart means everything private.”



On Tuesday at CeBIT in Hannover, Germany, the M2M Zone listened as executives spoke about security in the machine-to-machine (M2M) industry.  All the panelists on the roundtable seemed to agree that too much emphasis and concern is being placed on the privacy of M2M applications.


 “We are far too concerned about some of these things,” says Larsh Johnson, founder and CTO of eMeter Corporation (San Mateo, Calif., USA). “Everything smart means everything private.”


According to Johnson, most if not all smart devices involve the use of private information, but that doesn’t mean that the information will automatically be compromised.  


Volker Smid, CEO of Hewlett Packard (Palo Alto, Calif., USA) Germany, agreed when he said that it’s just “a reminder to be honest.” According to Smid, the industry has built trust with other technology over the past 15 years.  These technologies have protected consumer’s private information and according to Smid, this successful history should be taken into consideration.


 “These things need to be safe, but we can’t spend 20 years talking about just how safe,” says Smid.


Thomas Balgheim, CEO of Cirquent GmbH (Munich, Germany,) agreed saying that instead of trying to hide the potential risks associated with M2M security, companies need to be open about it. “We need to educate customers about the risks,” says Balgheim.


Balgheim goes on to say that security and trust are spoken about too much, when other more important aspects seem to be ignored.


“Benefits to other industries are never talked about,” says Balgheim.  “Instead everyone talks about security and trust.”


The panelist later shared their views on the M2M industry as a whole, saying that 15 years ago industries such as utilities, automotive and IT would have never considered working together.  Today, M2M is bringing together all these industries, especially IT and automotive for telematics and IT and utilities for smart grids.


According to Balgheim, it is not only the industries that are driving M2M innovation, but the consumers themselves.  “Consumers suddenly see technology as a fashion article,” says Balgheim. “The industry needs to understand and react to the fashion trend.”


Once the “fashion trend” is understood by the company it is then their job to make a business case for the service or application.  According to Smid, customers need some sort of incentive to adopt and use an M2M service.  He gives the example of a washing machine being turned on at 3 AM as opposed to 3 PM, which is a peak time for utilities.  Customers need an incentive, such as money savings, in order to change their current routine.


A real example of this is a project in Vienna where people with electric vehicles get reserved parking.  The reserved parking provides a real incentive that customers understand when thinking of purchasing an electric vehicle.