Meet F5 Networks that is in the business of securing sensitive data around IoT

From online banking to purchasing good, we have increasingly become dependent on accessing apps and data. Digital identity has become a valuable asset and IoT or the Internet of Things has become a key player in providing objects with digital identity. IoT is transforming the way we are operating instruments, at home to the manufacturing industry.

While this explosive growth of IoT has driven ongoing digital transformation towards a connected society, the increasing number of devices and data has given rise to security concerns. F5 Networks is one such company that is addressing security challenges in the IoT infrastructure.

IoT India Magazine interacted with Kunaciilan Nallappan (Kuna), Senior Marketing Director, Asia Pacific, F5 Networks, where he spoke about digital transformation impacting the IT infrastructure, Cloud as IoT enabler, impact of IoT on applications and much more.

IoT India Magazine – Would you like to tell us about F5 networks and how is it defining the IoT space in India? What are some of its offerings in the space?

Kunaciilan Nallappan – F5 Networks offers solutions in strengthening the security, performance, availability of applications, servers and data centers. Its products are highly programmable and can integrate into any environment, whether in the cloud, on premises, or in a hybrid environment. A lot of Fortune 50 companies rely on F5 to deliver apps that customers and employees can securely access at any time, on any device, from any location.

How is it defining IoT space in India?

For starters, IoT essentially is connecting various devices in manufacturing, telecom and other industries, all of which deliver data to a common center. We at F5 provide a mechanism for enterprise to understand what kind of data is available. For instance, various apps can have various data in the form of customer or patient data that comes from hospital or places elsewhere. We help our customer understand the kind of data that is being transmitted and more importantly, we prevent the data from getting hijacked.

IoT devices are transmitting millions of terabytes of data back into the server and most of this data is very sensitive. It could be banking information, healthcare information, or other intricate details of the customer. As it travels from device to the center, there has to be a lot of security around it and we are in a business of making sure that we protect the data from being revealed from the app and ensure that company doesn’t become subject to breach of data exposure.

Interestingly, many may think as to what information can a sensor transmit? But there is a lot of data that is financially viable and if a hacker can get into a IoT device, for e.g., a camera, it can create major chaos. If the camera is hacked due to lack of security, hacker can get access to a lot of information from the data center to which this camera is connected. It can be used as a way to hack other applications and that’s why our solutions play a role in detecting any malicious activity. That essentially is what we do for our customers.

From India context-

In the context of India, China and other APAC countries, there are a lot of developments happening. For instance, India aims to create 100 Smart Cities with a push from government. This may pose high risk of data being exposed, given a lot of IoT devices being connected to make everything smart—such as smart parking lots and smart roads. All this data can be at risk. Hacker can for instance, get access to camera from the parking lot or from airport creating a lot of misleading information. It can be a taxing task to identify if the information being fed from these cameras are genuine or not. It thus becomes important to inspect every bit of data through intermediate sources between app and IoT device to make sure that data is not malicious.

IoT India Magazine- How is cloud acting as an IoT enabler? What are the suit of applications by F5 Networks for multi-cloud environment?

KN – Cloud may not be completely an IoT device enabler but where Cloud becomes typically important is for providing application service to the data that comes from IoT device. For instance, in a private utility firm that could get data from smart meters installed, all the data has to go to a centralized place. During the process of providing services, it would not want to have security issues. At this point the firm could have all the data in the Cloud and get the data processes in the Cloud server.

Thousands of dollars in a month can be spent to get this data processed in the cloud and then for securing this a Cloud Security solution is needed, which can be purchased on a per hour or per day basis, as is provided by F5.

Cloud becomes IoT enabler in a sense that it provides easy way to process data in the cloud so that the customers who are not in the business of IT can fetch information from Cloud. It becomes a convenient way to operationalize any IoT services.

IoT India Magazine – How Digital transformation is impacting the IT infrastructure? How does IoT come into picture here?

KN – The word “digital” is a cliché nowadays and I think digital transformation is one aspect of it. I would say that IoT is one of the components of the enterprise digital transformation. Typically, digital transformation is a process where you are transforming your offerings and services to digital means. For instance, in banks, instead of going to ATM to withdraw cash, mobile app or internet banking could work better. In short, all the services are consumed digitally.

How does IoT come into picture?

IoT becomes an essential component, for instance with internet banking. The next frontier could be the use of Apple watch or Android watch. IoT comes in terms with digital banking as banks are able to use IoT enabled devices to do banking much conveniently. Suppose, while shopping I forgot to carry my wallet, I can use my phone, and if I forget my phone too, Apple watch can be used to carry out transaction, which is an IoT device. The goal is to make sure that if I am offering a service, customers are able to use it.

This is just one example. There are a lot of other examples where manufacturing companies are making use of IoT. Robotics is coming into play and advanced centers are being placed in the manufacturing units to make IoT more relevant.  

If someone wants to go digital, they have to make it useful for the customers and the employees, so that they are able to access anything from anywhere with a lot of security. That means it is essential to have the right protection so that no bad guy gets into the way.

IoT India Magazine – How has IoT being adopted in various industries from India perspective?

KN – IoT adoption across various regions has been quite high. China is a leader in IoT adoption and after it, India is the most active country—at least in terms of announcing plans around IoT. India’s interest around IoT can be witnessed through various investments that government has declared—be it agriculture, Smart Cities and others.

If we talk about specific to India, Smart Cities are adopting a lot of IoT. IoT is essentially an enabler for Smart Cities, which is an ambitious project by the government and IoT devices are slated to bring larger transformations in the concept, once it is adopted in full swing.

Next area is healthcare, which is seeing a large adoption of IoT. IoT devices are helping doctors and nurses keep a track of patient information such as blood pressure, temperature etc. in a much convenient way. In the future, a lot of devices would be fed into the patients to get their record into healthcare information system.

Another area is Manufacturing which is seeing a lot of adoption of IoT. Quality data, quality assurance, product yield, analyzing which raw material to provide, product outputs etc. are all being affected by the use of IoT. The adoption of intelligent devices can make manufacturing processes much easier.

There also would be secondary influence in areas such as agriculture due to IoT.

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Srishti Deoras
Srishti Deoras

Srishti currently works as Senior Content Strategist for Analytics India Magazine. When not covering the analytics news, editing and writing articles, she could be found reading or capturing thoughts into pictures.