What Do Corn, IoT and College Have in Common?

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Last week, I drove my oldest to college, which took me through Iowa’s cornfields. As I gazed upon aisle after aisle of corn, the synapses in my brain started firing and I considered how vulnerable farmers are to agricultural IoT attacks that can impact what used to be a simple livelihood.

Then, my brain shifted gears to the college move-in process.  As droves of students move (or head back) to college this week, they will undoubtedly  bring a sack of connected devices with them. And while parents grapple with concerns over their kids’ physical safety and well being as they transition to campus life, how many are focused on cyber safety? After all, the ubiquitous iPads, smart phones and laptops, along with other IoT devices utilized in higher education, offer numerous opportunities for exploitation and security breaches.

IoT Goes to College

Indeed, many colleges are fully embracing IoT in an effort to improve the learning experience,  and participate in the development of new and exciting research. Universities are increasingly relying on IoT devices to create smart campuses, from cameras and sensors that determine waiting lines and temperatures in stadiums, to kiosks that allow students to remotely print from any connected device, to autonomous vehicles for self-driving shuttle services.   

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But let’s face it – IoT is much like the freshman newbie – just trying to survive in what can be an overwhelming entry to maturity. Given the broad range of IoT applications available today, not to mention those that will emerge in the future of academia, it’s critical that all student-operated devices and the data they generate are protected from cyber threat vectors.

From a security perspective, most university IT departments cannot possibly be prepared for the assured expansion of connected devices and the threats – like phishing, malware, ransomware, and password-related cyber crime, for starters – that accompany them. 

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Although some higher education institutions have hired Chief Information Officers and some security staff, most of the 5,300 colleges and universities in the United States still need help.  

So Who Can Help?

Fortunately, communications service providers (CSPs) are now adding IoT security services to their expanding portfolio of cloud-based managed security services – and not just for their end users and enterprise customers, but also for higher education institutions.   

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With IoT and 5G happening real-time and in parallel, CSPs are in the pole position in the race for effective cyber-defense systems. This provides a win-win solution for all stakeholders: CSPs can apply and extend their best-of-breed security investments to “see, learn, and defend” the network as a whole, while adding a layer of much-needed security to the individual college experience. 

At the same time, CSPs can realize a profitable revenue stream that is built upon offering value-added security services on top of their already entrenched connectivity services important to verticals such as education, healthcare, financial services, among others.

In order to assist CSPs with their roll-out IoT security services, analyst firm Heavy Reading, in collaboration with Radware, developed a modeling tool designed to quantify the financial and Return on Investment (ROI) fundamentals of IoT security services.  Stay tuned for details on how a service provider can tap into the IoT user community to provide a much-needed security service and create a profitable source of revenue.

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Louis Scialabba is Director of Carrier Solutions Marketing for Radware and is responsible for leading network security and application delivery marketing initiatives for global service providers. Mr. Scialabba has over 23 years of experience in the communications and networking industry in a variety of Sales, Marketing, and Engineering roles. Prior to joining Radware, Mr. Scialabba spent much of his early career at Tellabs, where he was Director of Mobile Backhaul Product Planning and Product Management. He later became the Head of North America Marketing for Aviat Networks. Mr. Scialabba earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois and a Master of Business Administration degree from St. Xavier University in Chicago.

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