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:

Great leap coming

We’ve only scratched the surface in terms of bringing advanced digital technologies to bear solving humankind’s most profound challenges. Data gathering, data analytics, machine learning and digital automation have advanced to the level where they could be leveraged to accomplish much greater things.

Climate change solutions, driverless vehicles and stupendous medical breakthroughs are close at hand. Likewise, it’s no longer the stuff of science fiction to imagine how advanced digital services could be directed at making water, food, health services and even economic stability readily available to every inhabitant of the planet.

However, before any of these great leaps forward can happen, organizations must achieve digital resiliency. The only way for digital innovation to achieve its full potential is if enterprises and small businesses alike embrace technologies and best practices that support agility, while at the same time choking off any unauthorized network access.

“The Internet of Things is a huge new platform for amazing innovation,” Hanna observes. “But none of it will happen if we don’t get cybersecurity right and people have confidence in the safety and security of every domain the Internet of Things will be present in, whether it’s smart homes, smart vehicles or smart cities.”

Interoperability needed

At present, it’s easier than ever for malicious hackers to breach business networks and gain a foothold from which to steal data, spread ransomware, disrupt infrastructure and attain long-run unauthorized access.


This is the consequence of rapid migration to cloud-centric IT resources, a trend that has only accelerated as organizations come to rely more heavily on a remote workforce and a globally-scattered supply chain.

Today, processing power and data storage gets delivered virtually from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud, and communication and collaboration tools are supplied by dozens to hundreds of mobile and web apps. Modern digital services are the product of far-flung software code interconnecting dynamically. This has resulted in an exponential expansion of a network’s attack surface; every connection represents an attack vector that must be accounted for.

The problem isn’t a dearth of telemetry, nor a lack of data analytics know-how; we’ve got plenty of both. The reason threat actors are having a field day is because of a fundamental lack of interoperability between legacy and next-gen security tools delivered by highly competitive technology vendors.

Meshing agility, security

Matter signals the start of addressing this interoperability conundrum, Hanna told me. Here’s how:

Google, Amazon and Apple, arguably the most competitive tech giants, have spent nearly three years hammering out Matter, a global open-source standard designed to ensure that smart home devices from different manufacturers can communicate simply and securely.

Starting this fall, smart light bulbs, thermostats and garage door openers using the Matter standard will start appearing on store shelves. Matter devices will be compatible with Amazon AlexaGoogle Assistant, or Apple HomeKit. Notably, they’ll connect to the Internet – and to each other – via an advanced type of mesh network. 

This mesh network will be both agile and secure, fostering both convenience and security. Consumers will be able to control their IoT devices with any phone, without necessarily having to connect to the Internet.

This ability for a consumer to disconnect smart home devices from the Internet, yet still operate them locally, should enhance convenience while also boosting security. By using Matter devices offline, most of the time, i.e. when at home, a consumer can directly eliminate a primary attack vector.

Baked-in security

Thus Matter is a template and a harbinger. Hardware manufacturers, Infineon among them, as well as security software developers, are already off and running. They’re designing and testing prototype components for the coming generation of interoperable network security solutions that, if all goes well, should extend from Matter, Hanna says.

At one level, Matter provides a model for how rival tech vendors can, and must, collaborate to derive a new tier of standards for highly-interconnected digital services. At another level, Matter tangibly demonstrates how convenience and security can be two sides of the same coin.

For its part, Infineon is pioneering a way to bake-in advanced security controls at the chip level. Please do watch the accompanying video for Hanna’s deeper dive into work that’s underway to set up a cloud-based “resiliency engine” that can keep close track of things like real-time threat intelligence and vulnerability patching – and then automatically update systems at the chip level, as needed. In order to do this comprehensively, industry-wide consensus needs to gel around several more levels of connectivity standards. Matter is the first baby step.

“The Internet of Things needs a full set of interoperability standards in order for new applications to be invented,” Hanna observes. “Then the more interesting innovation can happen. We’re creating a platform for innovation and none of us can predict what those innovations will be, any more than Vint Cerf knew what the Internet would become when he was involved in creating it in 1969.”

The traction Matter gains in the coming months will tell us a lot about whether companies understand what it will take to get us to the next level of digital innovation. I’ll keep watch and keep reporting.


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.)

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