IT Brief Australia logo
Technology news for Australia's largest enterprises
Story image

Internet of Everything: An exclusive interview with Akamai

By Julia Gabel
Wed 26 Jul 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Michael Smith is the security chief technology officer, Asia Pacific & Japan, at Akamai, a company known for protecting websites, authoritative DNS, and its supporting infrastructure.

With 18 years of experience in the IT security and intelligence sector performing security design and engineering, information assurance, web development, and security testing, Smith discusses the role of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Operational Technology (OT) in today's technology landscape, particularly in Australia. 

Which sector do you think has been the most impacted by the Internet of Things?

I think most people have a limited view of IoT or “Internet of Everything” (IoE) or “Operational Technology” (OT). 

The first thing that comes to mind is personal technology, devices in our homes. We look at things like Wi-Fi connected water kettles and think that it’s absolutely silly.

But there is a different story about places where it does make sense to connect devices to a network.

The World Economic Forum has called IoT/OT the 4th industrial revolution because adding sensors and controller logic to regular production processes means a huge increase in output in most industries. We’ve been doing things similar to IoT for a while already.

Inside healthcare, there are a lot of diagnostic and imaging machines that feed information back into patient records. Industrial Control Systems (ICS) for water and power grid have a similar feel but maybe at a different scale. 

Even inside of the physical security world, we’ve connected cameras to a digital video recorder (DVR) to store many days’ worth of video in case it’s needed as evidence in an investigation.

In five-ten years, how will IoT have changed the technology landscape?

I recently attended the Cyber Threat Summit in Sydney and it was amazing to me how polemic IoT is right now.

On one hand, we have people who predict that the world will entirely change for the better in the next 5-10 years because of the increased productivity. 

And on the other hand, there are lots of security people saying, “Why would you do this, it’s drastically insecure?”.

I take a more pragmatic view in that I realise that when you increase network connectivity you increase attack surface and increase risk, but the network also provides resources to manage that risk. We saw this with desktop computers when they started to get connected to Local Area Networks (LANs) without the appropriate security features.

As a result, we had several years of huge worm outbreaks until we figured out how to build patching servers, get patches rapidly deployed, push a security policy to the desktops, and reduce the level of trust in the local network.

I think we’re at a similar time now with IoT, where we don’t really have the security and management ecosystem that we have in other areas.

For every technology, the first generation is always built as a minimum viable product and that means it doesn’t have many security features. Generation 2 usually has the big security features and Generation 3 is where most the security issues are solved. We’re still going to have security incidents, but we’re constantly adding new technologies to minimise the frequency and impact of them.

Is security the biggest risk you believe is associated with IoT? If not, what is?

Gartner predicts that there will be 20.4 billion ‘connected things’ by 2020. 

This explosion of IoT devices represents a huge change in the number of network connections and the scale at which we have to protect devices.

At Akamai, we talk a lot about DDos attacks using IoT because of Mirai and other bots that were seen in late 2016 and early 2017, but they aren’t the only potential abuse of connected devices.

There are other attacks like poisoning DNS in home routers, eavesdropping on conversations and password sniffing. You don’t hear much about these, but they are possible and I expect them to be happening if they are not already.

There are also other risks with IoT such as privacy and worker displacement, but the biggest concern is in security.  

If you look at the Mirai botnet, it was a combination of many factors: devices running as miniature Linux servers using the same operating system password and with remote login services enabled; Universal Plug and Play (uPnP) and its Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP), enabled by default on home routers to open firewall holes and allow device services to be accessed over the internet; and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that don’t block network connections going to their broadband users.

What gives Akamai the competitive edge in the Australian market?

Akamai’s competitive edge is our global footprint, industry expertise, and deep subject knowledge - all delivered locally in Australia to an Australian market. We deliver websites for most countries and most industries ranging from government to eCommerce to financial services to high technology and news.

Locally, we support all the major Australian banks, eCommerce merchants, travel and hospitality companies and news outlets, as well several high-demand government websites.

We’re seeing attacks here that we’ve seen elsewhere around the world for many years, so by the time they start attacking our Australian customers, we have the necessary experience in detecting and blocking the attacks.

We’re constantly looking for ways to use our strengths to help our customers. One of the ways that we use that experience is what we’re doing with data.

We have a platform, called Cloud Security Intelligence (CSI), that we regularly feed attack data to. We’re one of the few companies that have a large enough customer base to sample attack data across the majority of the Internet.

Through CSI, we’ve created a client reputation database so that our customers can learn anonymously about attacks against our other customers.

For example, if we’ve seen this source IP address attack Customers A, B, and C when they come to Customer D, they’re most likely also malicious so we can block it on behalf of our customers. We’re also expanding our client reputation database to detect account takeover activity, fraud, and scrapers.

Overall, we’re in a great position to help Australia and as a result, we’ve seen our business double in the last two years. We’ve acquired new technologies and in many cases, we’re the fastest growing country across the region of Asia for the technologies we sell in, and in the world.

Last year, we added a scrubbing centre in Sydney so that our Australian customers could operate with our Prolexic solution with minimal latency for domestic users and as an always-on solution.

Where to from here for Akamai?

Our next step is in the direction of solutions for enterprises to manage their users and endpoints and we’re about ready to announce some initial offerings in this space.

That is a completely different approach for us, and in the next five years, we will be a significantly different vendor than what people are used to.

This interview is continued in part 2. 

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Australian consumers loyal to retailers who deliver speed and visibility
SOTI finds extensive order visibility and speed are the most important factors for turning one-off customers into loyal, long-term buyers.
Story image
Ivanti puts spotlight on power of employee digital experiences
The report revealed that 49% of employees are frustrated by the tech and tools their organisation provides and 64% believe this impacts morale.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Juniper study reveals top AI trends in APAC region
Juniper's research shows an increase in enterprise artificial intelligence adoption over the last 12 months is yielding tangible benefits to organisations.
Story image
New VMware offerings improve cloud infrastructure management
VMware has unveiled VMware vSphere+ and VMware vSAN+ to help organisations bring benefits of the cloud to existing on-prem infrastructure.
Story image
SAS wins Microsoft ISV 2022 Partner of the Year award
"We formed the SAS and Microsoft strategic partnership with a shared goal of making it easier for customers to drive better decisions in the cloud."
Story image
Cloudian, Vertica to deliver on-premise data warehouse platform
"We’re enabling our customers to capitalise on a leading object storage platform and maximise the value of their digital assets.”
Story image
Digital Transformation
Google Cloud launches new Digital Accelerator bundles for Aussie SMBs
The new bundles are designed to help Australian small and medium-sized businesses embrace digital transformation and take their businesses online.
Story image
Zero trust security adoption rises 27% in just two years
A survey of WAN managers has revealed that multi-factor authentication and single sign-on are the top zero trust features implemented.
Story image
Monitors are an excellent incentive for getting employees back
The pandemic has taught us that hybrid working is a lot easier than we would’ve thought, so how can the office be made to feel as comfortable as home? The answer could be staring you in the face right now.
Discover the 5 ways your ERP may be letting you down. Is your current system outdated, difficult to manage, and costing you a fortune?
Link image
Story image
Enterprise Resource Planning / ERP
Five ways your ERP is letting you down and why its time for a change
Wiise explains while moving to a new system may seem daunting, the truth is that legacy systems could be holding your business back.
Story image
Hybrid workforce
How organisations can prepare for a post-pandemic workforce
The so-called 'new normal' office looks different to how it did pre-pandemic, and organisations need to take steps to better manage their post-pandemic workforce. 
Story image
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
How the metaverse will change the future of the supply chain
The metaverse is set to significantly change the way we live and work, so what problems can it solve in supply chain management?
Story image
Robust digital warehouse management crucial in Asia-Pacific
Thanks to a network of “cloud” stores, grocery and food delivery providers such as Foodpanda can arrange for these commonly requested items to get packed up and sent over in almost no time.
Story image
Oracle Cloud
Commvault, Oracle to deliver Metallic Data Management as a Service
"We are excited to partner with Commvault and enable our customers to restore and recover their most mission-critical cloud data."
Story image
Four things wholesale distributors need to consider for FY2023
In a post-pandemic world, there are many things for a distribution business to juggle. ERP solutions company Wiise narrows down what companies should focus on.
Supply chain
Discover the 4 critical priorities for wholesale distribution businesses in FY23. Are you worried about how supply chain issues may affect your business in 2023?
Link image
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Accenture shares the benefits of supply chain visibility
It's clear that gaining better visibility into the supply chain will help organisations avoid excess costs, inefficiencies, and complexity to ultimately improve their bottom line.
Story image
How to achieve your monthly recurring revenue goals
Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) is the ultimate goal, the most important issue on which anyone in the IT channel should focus.
Story image
Dicker Data
EXCLUSIVE: Why women in IT makes good business sense - Dicker Data
The Federal government wants to bolster female participation in the tech industry to at least 40% by 2030. Here's how one homegrown Australian company has already reached that goal.
Story image
Macquarie Data Centres
Macquarie deal to pioneer CO2-cutting data centre tech in Australia
Macquarie Data Centres has signed a multi-year deal with ResetData, an Australian first provider using Submer data centre technology. 
Story image
Microsoft names A/NZ Partner of the Year award winners
The awards recognise partners across the globe for their innovative use of Microsoft technologies to help customers succeed.
Story image
Digital Transformation
What CISOs think about cyber security, visibility and cloud
Seeking to uncover the minds of CISOs and CIOs across Asia Pacific, my company recently asked Frost & Sullivan to take a snapshot of cloud adoption behaviour in the region.
Story image
Cloud Security
Palo Alto Networks bolsters cloud native security offerings
Latest Prisma Cloud platform updates help organisations continuously monitor and secure web applications with maximum flexibility.
Story image
Zscaler launches co-located data centres in Canberra and Auckland
The investment will offer public and private sector enterprises greater resilience in support of their zero trust cybersecurity posture.
Project management
Discover the 4 crucial factors for choosing the right job-costing solution. Is your team struggling to cost jobs and keep projects running on budget?
Link image
Story image
Vertiv releases updates on ESG initiatives, sets sights on future
Vertiv has released its inaugural environmental, social and governance (ESG) report, the company’s first public report of its ESG activities.
Story image
How New South Wales state departments achieved cloud migration success
State departments in New South Wales are heading to the cloud to achieve better workflow solutions, and one company is paving the way for their success.
Story image
Hybrid workforce
Why hybrid working is here to stay and how to ace it
Citrix's new report reveals hybrid workers are more productive and engaged at work than their office and completely remote counterparts.
Story image
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.
Story image
ASI Solutions named finalist of Microsoft Surface Partner of the Year
"ASI Solutions has a strong Microsoft focus, building value by helping customers maximise investment in modern workplace solutions."
Story image
SNP unveils next generation of CrystalBridge software platform
Data is a key pillar of every customer-centric organisation, as it relies on agile decisions to become increasingly sustainable and intelligent.
Story image
Online shopping
Consumers want speed, visibility in return for brand loyalty
72% of Australian shoppers want complete online order visibility and 63% are loyal to retailers who deliver goods the fastest.
Story image
Internet of Things
ManageEngine wins big in IDC MarketScape assessment
ManageEngine's Endpoint Central service has been recognised as a leader by IDC MarketScape in several categories including Internet of Things device deployments and UEM software for SMEs.
Digital Transformation
Discover the 5 signs your business is ready for a cloud-based ERP. Is your business being left behind as more of your competitors switch to the cloud?
Link image
Story image
Data ownership
Brands must reclaim trust by empowering data ownership
According to Twilio's new State of Personalisation Report 2022, 62% of consumers expect personalisation from brands, and yet only 40% trust brands to use their data responsibly and keep it safe.
Story image
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CrowdStrike
Scott Jarkoff joins us today to discuss current trends in the cyber threat landscape, and the reporting work CrowdStrike is doing to prevent further cyber harm.
Story image
The best ways to attract young talent during labour shortages
New research from Citrix reveals hybrid working and ventures into the metaverse are top of mind for Gen Z workers.
Story image
State Library of Victoria
State Library of Victoria entrusts Oracle support and security to Rimini Street
“Our finance team are very happy with the support and security that Rimini Street provides, which keeps our assets and our customers secure."
Story image
Robotic Process Automation / RPA
Salesforce announces latest generation of MuleSoft
Salesforce has introduced the next generation of MuleSoft, a unified solution for automation, integration and APIs to automate any workflow.
Story image
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure expands distributed cloud services
“Distributed cloud is the next evolution of cloud computing, and provides customers with more flexibility and control in how they deploy cloud resources."
Story image
How Airwallex helps businesses achieve globalisation success
As markets continue to shift, businesses need to be able to provide the same quality of service for customers regardless of where they are located around the world.
Story image
Stock security features inadequate in face of rising risk
"Organisations must proactively find ways of identifying unseen vulnerabilities and should take a diligent, holistic approach to cybersecurity."