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MY TAKE: Can Matter 1.0 springboard us from truly smart homes to the Internet of Everything?

By Byron V. Acohido

Ever feel like your smart home has dyslexia?

Siri and Alexa are terrific at gaining intelligence with each additional voice command. And yet what these virtual assistants are starkly missing is interoperability.

Related: Why standards are so vital

Matter 1.0 is about to change that. This new home automation connectivity standard rolls out this holiday season with sky high expectations. The technology industry hopes that Matter arises as the  lingua franca for the Internet of Things.

Matter certified smart home devices will respond reliably and securely to commands from Amazon AlexaGoogle Assistant,  Apple HomeKit or Samsung SmartThings. Think of it: consumers will be able to control any Matter appliance with any iOS or Android device.

That’s just to start. Backed by a who’s who list of tech giants, Matter is designed to take us far beyond the confines of our smart dwellings. It could be the key that securely interconnects IoT systems at a much deeper level, which, in turn, would pave the way to much higher tiers of digital innovation.

I had the chance to sit down, once more, with Mike Nelson, DigiCert’s vice president of IoT security, to discuss the wider significance of this milestone standard.

MY TAKE: Why the Matter smart home standard portends the coming of the Internet of Everything

By Byron V. Acohido

Standards. Where would we be without them?

Universally accepted protocols give us confidence that our buildings, utilities, vehicles, food and medicines are uniformly safe and trustworthy. At this moment, we’re in dire need of implementing standards designed to make digital services as private and secure as they need to be.

Related: How matter addresses vulnerabilities of smart home devices

A breakthrough is about to happen with the roll out this fall of Matter, a new home automation connectivity standard backed by Amazon, Apple, Google, Comcast and others.

Matter is intended to be the lingua franca for the Internet of Things. It’s only a first step and there’s a long way to go. That said, Matter is an important stake in the ground. To get a full grasp on why Matter matters, I recently visited with Steve Hanna, distinguished engineer at Infineon Technologies, a global semiconductor manufacturer based in Neubiberg, Germany.

For a full drill down on our evocative discussion, please watch the accompanying videocast. Here are the main takeaways:

FIRESIDE CHAT: Why ‘digital resiliency’ has arisen as the Holy Grail of IT infrastructure

By Byron V. Acohido

Digital resiliency has arisen as something of a Holy Grail in the current environment.

Related: The big lesson of Log4j

Enterprises are racing to push their digital services out to the far edge of a highly interconnected, cloud-centric operating environment. This has triggered a seismic transition of company networks, one that has put IT teams and security teams under enormous pressure.

It’s at the digital edge where all the innovation is happening – and that’s also where threat actors are taking full advantage of a rapidly expanding attack surface. In this milieu, IT teams and security teams must somehow strike a balance between dialing in a necessary level of security — without unduly hindering agility.

Digital resiliency – in terms of business continuity, and especially when it comes to data security — has become a must have. I had the chance to visit with Paul Nicholson, senior director of product at A10 Networks, a San Jose, Calif.-based supplier of security, cloud and application services.

Guest expert: Paul Nicholson, Senior Director of Product, A10 Networks

We discussed how and why true digital resiliency, at the moment, eludes the vast majority of organizations. That said, advanced security tools and new best practices are gaining traction.

There is every reason to anticipate that emerging security tools and practices will help organizations achieve digital resiliency in terms of supporting work-from-home scenarios, protecting their supply chains and mitigating attack surface expansion. As part of this dynamic, Zero Trust protocols appear to be rapidly taking shape as something of a linchpin.

“When you say Zero Trust, people’s ears perk up and they understand that you’re basically talking about making sure only the right people can get to the digital assets which are required,” Nicholson told me.

For more context on these encouraging developments, please give the accompanying podcast a listen. Meanwhile, I’ll keep watch and keep reporting.

Acohido

Pulitzer Prize-winning business journalist Byron V. Acohido is … more

SHARED INTEL: The cybersecurity sea change coming with the implementation of ‘CMMC’

By Byron V. Acohido

Finally, Uncle Sam is compelling companies to take cybersecurity seriously.

Related: How the Middle East paved the way to CMMC

Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification version 2.0 could  take effect as early as May 2023 mandating detailed audits of the cybersecurity practices of any company that hopes to do business with the Department of Defense.

Make no mistake, CMMC 2.0, which has been under development since 2017, represents a sea change. The DoD is going to require contractors up and down its supply chain to meet the cybersecurity best practices called out in the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s SP 800-171 framework.

I sat down with Elizabeth Jimenez, executive director of market development at NeoSystems, a Washington D.C.-based supplier of back-office management services, to discuss the prominent role managed security services providers (MSSPs) are sure to play as CMMC 2.0 rolls out. For a full drill down, please give the accompanying podcast a listen. Here are my takeaways:

FIRESIDE CHAT: The inevitable replacement of VPNs by ‘ZTNA’ — zero trust network access

By Byron V. Acohido

Virtual Private Networks – VPNs – remain widely used in enterprise settings. Don’t expect them to disappear anytime soon.

Related: Taking a risk assessment approach to vulnerability management.

This is so, despite the fact that the fundamental design of a VPN runs diametrically opposed to  zero trust security principles.

I had the chance to visit with David Holmes, network security analyst at Forrester, to learn more about how this dichotomy is playing out as companies accelerate their transition to cloud-centric networking.

Guest expert: David Holmes, Analyst for Zero Trust, Security and Risk, Forrester Research

 

VPNs encrypt data streams and protect endpoints from unauthorized access, essentially by requiring all network communications to flow over a secured pipe. VPNs verify once and that’s it.

Zero trust — and more specifically zero trust network access, or ZTNA — never trusts and always verifies. A user gets continually vetted, with only the necessary level of access granted, per device and per software application; and behaviors get continually analyzed to sniff out suspicious patterns.

Remote access is granted based on granular policies that take the least-privilege approach. For many reasons, and for most operating scenarios, ZTNA solutions makes more sense, going forward, than legacy VPN systems, Holmes told me. But that doesn’t mean VPN obsolescence is inevitable. To learn more, please give the accompanying Last Watchdog Fireside Chat podcast a listen.

Acohido

Pulitzer Prize-winning business journalist Byron V. Acohido is dedicated to fostering public awareness about how to make the Internet as private and secure as it ought to be.

(LW provides consulting services to the vendors we cover.)

MY TAKE: Businesses gravitate to ‘passwordless’ authentication — widespread consumer use up next

By Byron V. Acohido

Google, Microsoft and Apple are bitter arch-rivals who don’t often see eye-to-eye.

Related: Microsoft advocates regulation of facial recognition tools

Yet, the tech titans recently agreed to adopt a common set of standards supporting passwordless access to websites and apps.

This is one giant leap towards getting rid of passwords entirely. Perhaps not coincidently, it comes at a time when enterprises have begun adopting passwordless authentication systems in mission-critical parts of their internal operations.

Excising passwords as the security linchpin to digital services is long, long overdue. It may take a while longer to jettison them completely, but now there truly is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I recently sat down with Ismet Geri, CEO of Veridium, to discuss what the passwordless world we’re moving towards might be like. For a full drill down on our wide-ranging discussion, please give a listen to the accompanying podcast. Here are a few takeaways.

MY TAKE: ‘Digital trust’ has a huge role to play mitigating cybersecurity threats, going forward

By Byron V. Acohido

Modern digital systems simply could not exist without trusted operations, processes and connections. They require integrity, authentication, trusted identity and encryption.

Related: Leveraging PKI to advance electronic signatures

It used to be that trusting the connection between a workstation and a mainframe computer was the main concern. Then the Internet took off and trusting the connection between a user’s device and a web server became of paramount importance.

Today we’re in the throes of digital transformation. Software-defined-everything is the order of the day. Our smart buildings, smart transportation systems and smart online services are all network-connected at multiple levels. Digital services get delivered across a complex amalgam of public cloud, hybrid cloud and on-premises digital systems.

It is against this backdrop that digital trust has become paramount. We simply must attain —  and sustain — a high bar of confidence in the computing devices, software applications and data that make up he interconnected world we occupy.