Global Network Security Company Brings IoT Solution to U.S.

One telecom company has acquired the Allot Ltd. system to secure its own customers' IoT-based data, while others are in conversations to do the same.
Published: May 7, 2019

As businesses and consumers bring more Internet of Things (IoT)-based devices into their facilities or homes, and as they connect more of those devices to the Internet, security challenges are growing. With millions of devices transmitting data to servers, the question is how to prevent hacking and malware that can have nuisance or critical consequences for businesses and homeowners. The onus of providing security for IoT network users rests on the shoulders of communication service providers (CSPs).

A variety of companies have developed security solutions to enable businesses to protect their IoT-based data and their customers’ information. Global security technology company Allot Ltd. offers a system that is being deployed by telecommunication companies and service providers.

Allot’s Ran Fridman

Allot’s IoTSecure solution has been adopted by one of the largest wireless telecommunications providers in the United States, which has asked to remain unnamed. Chinese mobile service provider China Unicom supplied the system to secure the capture of electricity consumption data by a Chinese utility from SIM cards across 33 million homes.

“IoT vulnerability is widely prevalent,” says Ran Fridman, Allot’s executive VP of worldwide sales. There are multiple methods that can be employed to gain control of IoT devices, he explains, and to access sensitive information about a company or individual. “Unfortunately, once control is gained, there are a number of ways these systems can be manipulated.” For instance, they can become botnets or distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) sources. “IoT botnets were the source for the infamous DDoS attack on Dyn,” he points out (see Surviving the IoT Cyberattack Pandemic). The Dyn cyberattack in 2016 caused the outage of Internet services and platforms across a large part of North America and Europe.

IoTSecure is what Allot calls a unified security service, and is intended to protect IoT devices that use cellular 4G or 5G networks, as well as public Wi-Fi. When service providers adopt the solution, they then provide that security to users of their service, thereby ensuring sensors or smart appliances are not inadvertently sharing data with bad actors, and that they are not receiving malware. The concern is about more than simply security, however, Fridman notes. Also at issue is the additional data traffic that can slow service when bots, scanning systems or crawlers use the network.

To help prevent these kinds of attacks, Fridman says, Allot first began working with the U.S.-based network operator in late 2017, and it now plans to take the solution live. The system enables the network operator to secure data from sensor devices it has in the field, including digital signage, telemetry devices and surveillance cameras, all of which connect to the mobile network. The customers using IoT technology on their network are primarily small- and medium-sized businesses.

According to Fridman, the U.S. market is at the forefront of the IoT segment. “Therefore,” he states, “[securing the U.S. telecom deployment agreement] is one of our most significant deals.” Beyond that, he adds, “We are engaging in several projects with additional operators in the U.S. and in other advanced markets, and hopefully will progress to commercial launches soon.” Fridman says IoTSecure is a network-based solution that protects enterprise IoT deployments and offers several features, including Behavior Profiling, Behavior Assurance and IoT Security functions.

Behavior Profiling employs artificial intelligence (AI)-based analytics to detect any suspicious or unusual behavior that might indicate compromised or malfunctioning IoT devices. The Behavior Assurance function provides communications related to traffic behavior and assurance of the security of a user’s IoT deployments. The IoT Security feature protects against any identified inline anti-malware, botnet and DDoS attacks on IoT services

“IoTSecure… protects mobile IoT devices from online threats,” Fridman says, “as well as the CSPs’ infrastructure from IoT-based attacks.” In addition, the solution enables CSPs and their customers to offer their own tailored IoT analytics based on IoTSecure data. He estimates that this could boost the value of companies’ services, and what they can charge for those services, by 10 to 15 percent.

Allot also provides a solution known as EndpointSecure, for service-provider customers to secure subscribers on- and off-net with a seamless customer experience, while HomeSecure targets smart homes and appliances for consumers. NetworkSecure, meanwhile, protects Web services and provides parental controls for network-connected devices.

With regard to China Telecom, the company needed a way to enable the Chinese Southern Power Grid Co. to transition from manual meter checking across all 33 million subscribers to an automated system. While it wanted to employ low-cost SIM cards plugged into consumers’ meters to share data, such a system opened up the opportunity for fraudulent activity, such as the cards being used to authorize electricity use at unauthorized locations. The IoTSecure solution allows the Southern Power Grid Co. to monitor the behavior of each SIM, perform analytics around that behavior and send alerts if any anomalies are detected.