ModusLinkBy Murt O’Donnell, Director of ESolutions at ModusLink
The Internet of Things (IoT) offers organizations infinite new business opportunities and potential for revenue growth, however it also introduces a range of new security risks. In fact, a study from HP revealed that 70 percent of the most commonly used IoT-enabled devices contain serious security vulnerabilities – and a recent Ernst and Young study found that 56 percent of the world’s global companies say that it is “unlikely or highly unlikely” that their organization would be able to detect a sophisticated IoT-related attack.
One of the biggest challenges with the IoT is that security tools and processes must be able to manage and monitor thousands, or even millions, of devices and new security threats that are constantly emerging. Additionally, the majority of IoT devices use simple operating systems and processors, so often they can’t support more advanced security technology. To make matters even more challenging, experienced IoT and emerging technology security experts can be difficult to find.
Thankfully, entitlement management is proving to be an extremely effective process for managing IoT security. Simply put, entitlements represent what a user has rights to. Entitlements control what software keys get created to unlock new features. They validate which users can receive updates or support and they can also record who has installed software on what devices.
The hyper-growth of the IoT is making all hardware and appliance original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) incorporate software, which makes entitlement management technology key to protecting the intellectual property of “smart” and connected devices. While companies can technically access all the data they want from an IoT-enabled Keurig coffeemaker or Nest thermostat, for instance, they shouldn’t be able to abuse that information. Entitlement management ensures that only those with clearance can access IoT device data – and that only permitted amounts and types of user information are viewable to authorized parties.
For organizations looking to leverage entitlement management to better manage IoT security, it’s necessary to implement on-premise or cloud-based software that can manage the thousands of entitlements a typical organization generates every day. In addition to providing greater IoT security and compliance, such technology can also reduce costs, improve quality of service and make products or services more accessible to customers.
When evaluating entitlement management software, ensure it includes the following 5 capabilities:
1. Multi-License Management
To make it easy for customers to access their orders and properly install their purchases – and for organizations to be able to assign and manage multi-license agreements – entitlement management software should offer the use of multiple license key generators. The software should also be able to manage complex product configurations and initiate support calls to remote or third-party key generators. Additionally, it’s important that entitlement management software can generate license authenticity codes for partners, as well as handle batch process activations, re-hosts, upgrades and returns. Finally, the software should be able to manage activation validation rules such as required products, quantities or combinations.
2. Streamlined Upgrades
A big benefit of entitlement management software is that it can simplify the process of software upgrades, giving customers a high level of personalized service, while also decreasing support and maintenance costs. Seek out entitlement management software that provides support for complex product mapping and changes during an upgrade process, gives options for targeting individual companies or machines for upgrades – and that has automatic new key generation. The software should also have the ability to push out critical patches and determine the number of affected customers prior to an upgrade.
3. Flexible Usage Tracking
As the IoT continues to proliferate our current business landscape, the ability to capture and report on the data generated by “smart” devices will be increasingly critical. Luckily, entitlement management software can collect and report on “smart” device usage. In fact, such software can receive usage information and associate it with individual devices – and it can also connect devices to customers through registration processes. Organizations should implement entitlement management software that can track usage against entitlements, report on usage by devices and customers and support pay-as-you-use and other usage-based business models.
4. Content Download Control
Effective entitlement management software should be able to control access to online resources and downloads and ensure that only entitled customers gain access to restricted files. The software should also provide content producers with a secure way to deliver electronic data via out-of-the-box integration with a leading content delivery network (CDN) provider or via URL- and FTP-based downloads. Entitlement management software should also be able to track download initiations and offer the ability to limit the number of times a file is downloaded by any one customer.
5. Real-Time Reporting
Along with flexible usage tracking, reporting is one of the key benefits of entitlement management software. Organizations should implement software that provides detailed insights into which customers are activating which products on what platforms, what is purchased versus deployed, how often products are re-hosted or returned, who is requesting temporary licenses and who is eligible for renewals and upgrades. Entitlement management software should offer the ability to run such reports in real-time and also have the ability to create additional, custom reports. Lastly, the software should have its own, siloed database to ensure its reporting doesn’t slow down transaction processing.
Business Insider projects that there will be 24 billion IoT-enabled devices by 2020, and nearly $6 trillion will be spent on IoT solutions over the next five years, with businesses leading the way in terms of IoT adoption. Given this incredible momentum, now is the time for organizations to seriously evaluate their IoT security risks.
Leveraging dedicated entitlement management software can allow companies to take full advantage of their IoT revenue potential without compromising the safety of their business – or their customers. As an added benefit, implementing entitlement management solutions can provide organizations with critical business intelligence, which can lead to reduced production costs and maximized revenue.

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