How Google's Android Things Will Improve IoT Security

Google Answers To The Call For Greater IoT Security

Just as the IoT has become irreversibly embedded within the Internet, it has revealed itself to be a wildly insecure cesspool of non-standard, unsecured, and outdated technology. Google is responding by updating its offerings for IoT operating systems and network connections with Android-derived software and an improved communications protocol.

An Evolution And An Expansion

Google is attempting a do-over on the Internet of Things with its rollout of Android Things, which the company bills as a comprehensive IoT platform to build smart devices using the Android API. Google has released Things as a preview for developers and as a showcase of how it works with hardware from partners on the project.

The new format replaces the previous platform for Android that failed to capture the imaginations of developers. The deprecated system, brand-named Brillo, will provide some of the functionality for Things, which will still support Weave, the communications platform that enabled Brillo and now Things to communicate between devices and with the network at large.

One Of Many Company Initiatives

In all likelihood, Things and Weave will prove their utility and improved security to establish a position in the market. Google and its holding company for many projects, Alphabet, have invested in IoT in a hit-and-miss fashion with small scale and disjointed projects that attempt to implement various business models and systems. The combined capabilities of Things and Weave provide an Android-based equivalent to Apple’s HomeKit.

The Internet of Things is too vast for Google to ignore and the company probably receives large quantities of IoT data through the various projects that the company has commissioned. Android Things and Weave will work with a broad range of devices. There are turnkey products available to use with the software for bespoke and large-batch product applications.

Weave has received backing from a substantial portion of the IoT device market where communications are the lifeblood of the technology. Google partnered with several companies to release initial platforms. Participants include the Intel Edison module, the Raspberry Pi 3, and NXP Pico, which show that the new code works for both x86 and ARM architectures.

Android Things with Raspberry PI demo

The Sudden Demand For Increased IoT Security

This preview comes at a time when all parts of the IoT have revealed widespread vulnerabilities. Hackers have leveraged outdated and unsecured devices such as webcams and light fixtures to propagate denial of service attacks. The IoT devices commandeered as tools for bot networks hammer websites with traffic. The attacks used precisely the type of devices on which Things will deploy.

Google’s strategy is to use Things and Weave to provide secure updates for software as new vulnerabilities appear. The lack of this update capability has been a notable weakness in older devices, even though malware could put them to criminal purposes.

Vulnerabilities will likely continue to emerge. While it is probable there will be threats to Weave and Android Things, Google has the resources to address them and shut them down rapidly by pushing out updates. This strength might be just the solution at the right place and time to help Google gain a leading position in IoT devices.

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