DNP Features 6 Security the top priority for IoT businesses

Imagine the following situation, if you will.

One morning in August 2020, a company executive in his 40s checks a customized, virtual-reality news feed, while eating breakfast inside a driverless vehicle purring along the streets of Tokyo. His smart glasses capture images of the breakfast, automatically calculating the meal’s calories and nutritional data, while also recording his vitals to help him stay healthy. Just as he finishes dressing, his car arrives at his company. It has been six months since he started using this driverless vehicle, which is essentially a camping car equipped with various sensors, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and other state-of-the-art equipment—some with artificial intelligence.

That afternoon, he uses this vehicle to travel to Osaka for a business trip because he can get some work done while it zips along the expressway. As he searches for souvenirs for clients, a GPS-based push notification from a traditional confectioner having a sale is sent to his smartphone. He arranges to have souvenirs delivered to Nagoya, a major city between Tokyo and Osaka, at a designated time, and pays for them with his smartphone. At 6 p.m., he watches a baseball game played at Sapporo Dome, via a VR headset. Watching a star pitcher hurl the ball at 165 kph close by—albeit a virtual experience—thrills the executive, as the VR headset allows him to feel as though he is standing at the plate and watching the superfast ball thunder into the catcher’s mitt. After holding a TV conference with clients abroad, he talks with his children via the VR headset and finds out his son hit a game-ending homer in a match with a baseball team from another school. This vehicle is able to enrich both his business career and his private life.

Such a lifestyle is not far-fetched but entirely plausible in the near future thanks to the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), a network of Internet-connected objects able to collect and exchange data using embedded sensors.

“Revolutionary developments are beginning to unfold with IoT,” said Kiyoshi Imaizumi, manager of Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.’s IoST Business Development Project Team. “IoT is set to change the way we do business. So far, Japan’s strength has been in manufacturing, but unless we generate new values through IoT, besides simply selling manufactured goods, that strength will sooner or later be eclipsed.”

Revolution comes with risks

Although the much-touted IoT is likely bring sweeping changes both to the business world and people’s lifestyles, its proliferation also heightens the risk of being targeted by cyberattacks, which have become ever more organized and sophisticated. There have been overseas reports of IoT-linked devices being damaged by hackers who tampered with data related to smart meters used to digitally measure power usage. Driverless cars, on which the automobile industry has pinned high hopes for the future, have already emerged as a likely target for hackers.

“Unless we ensure security for IoT businesses, they won’t flourish as expected,” Imaizumi said.

Ensuring security for IoT devices with smart card technologies

U.S. and European firms are increasingly focusing on cybersecurity: The security of Internet services has been enhanced by such technology as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), giving rise to numerous online services, including e-commerce. But so far, less attention has been paid to the security of IoT devices themselves; this is where DNP comes into play.

In August 2016, DNP launched a platform service designed to ensure the security of smartphones, tablets and other devices that will connect to the IoT ecosystem by utilizing smartcard technologies it has been developing since the 1980s, such as in the fields of smart card software development, production and personalization of smart cards, and authentication-system building.

“Devices are an integral part of IoT,” Imaizumi explained. “It’s important to make sure the devices aren’t copied or tampered with—essentially ensuring the device is the ‘correct’ one—to protect the business interests of service providers, while making sure that service recipients enjoy the convenience of the service.

“DNP and Gemalto have technologies to safeguard information contained in nonduplicable smart cards, which can connect with cloud servers. As top smart card makers, our two companies believed that using our smart card technologies was a reasonable solution for making IoT devices secure, and we agreed to proliferate the concept globally.”

The new platform utilizes Transport Layer Security (TLS), a protocol that provides communication security between client/server applications that communicate with each other over the Internet, issuing an encryption key and digital certification to devices via a Secure Application Module (SAM).

IoST key factor in embracing explosive increase in IoT devices

As IoT devices are likely to increase drastically in number over the next several years, such safeguards will inevitably prove important. According to a 2011 survey conducted by Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group, there will be more than 50 billion IoT-related devices around the world in 2020—a figure seven times larger than the global population.

DNP is currently promoting the idea of the “Internet of Secure Things (IoST),” a term coined by William Hiroyuki Saito, a Japanese-American entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Saito asserts that security for the IoT is akin to the braking system in Shinkansen bullet trains, which he believes is the most important element in such trains, and which run at nearly 300 kph. According to Saito, only when security is ensured can people enjoy the true convenience the IoT will bring.

IoST is one of the pillars of DNP’s business strategies. “Among our IoT endeavors, the IoST area is the most advanced,” Imaizumi said in explaining DNP’s business plan. “So far, DNP has manufactured such products as smartphone Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards and B-Cas cards [for TV sets] after receiving orders from client companies. But from now on, DNP aims to proactively develop IoT products and services on its own initiative, then promote them to its clients.”

Addressing the challenges of Japan’s graying society

The IoT also has huge potential in addressing the challenges faced by Japan, including the country’s graying society and a decline in the working population due to low birthrates over past decades. The proliferation of the IoT is essential for industrial and commercial automation, which requires much less manpower. The IoT can provide a means of transportation for elderly people living in depopulated areas through driverless cars, or IoT sensors can be installed in various appliances in the houses of elderly people and alert service providers if a person falls ill. Business opportunities geared toward meeting the needs of the elderly abound, which could well serve as a springboard for the Japanese economy.

“The IoT is a tool we can use,” Imaizumi said. “But service providers can only establish viable businesses when security is ensured, thus providing good service to users who feel safe in using the service. We’d like to help promote IoT business wherever we can.”

DNP’s target partners are firms that use the IoT in such sectors as finance, communications, infrastructure, manufacturing and medicine. The company aims to notch up approximately ¥3.5 billion in sales in fiscal 2020.