Interview with David Sønstebø - CEO/Founder IOTA

CoT: How critical is the issue of security today with regards to IOT? I mean we hear about hacks regularly but how would you grade security amongst the list of issues affecting IOT

The importance of security in IoT can not be overstated. When you look at the big picture of how IoT increasingly permeate our personal lives and the very infrastructure of business and society itself it is quite daunting to think of the repercussions of failing to take security into account while engineering the technology that this ever-growing ecosystem emerges from.
One thing is obvious: privacy breaches and identity theft has never been easier. Through virtually all forms of media each and every one of us is generating vast amounts of data and meta-data, some which we choose to share on social media and some we want to keep private. Think for instance of near-future wearables that will be able to measure your sweat and eventually blood content in real time, most would not want insurance companies or literally anyone but their healthcare professionals have access to this data.
Other concerns are vast infrastructural attacks, whether it be from terrorists or cyber-warfare à la Stuxnet. If you fast forward 5-10-15 years where much of our society has become completely autonomous and most of us rely on technology, from supply chains to traffic to purchases to vital life sustaining technologies, it is easy to imagine just how easy it would be to wreak havoc and decimate big parts of a society at once if there is not proper security in place. Shutting off pacemakers, feeding false data to healthcare databases which lead to mis-medication, taking over driverless cars and have them all jam into each other, take over water filtration systems and cause pollution to the drinking water etc. etc. the list goes on and on and on. This is a very sobering thought. This is a reality that will affect us all, so we ought to prepare in order to prevent these scenarios. So security should be priority #1 in IoT.

CoT: Do you think a collaboration approach is needed for the industry to explore whether blockchain can address security questions in IOT?

Yes. I consider it axiomatic that interoperability is a vital component of a functioning IoT landscape, so it’s important that established, as well as new actors who will shape this future collaborate in an open fashion, such that we don’t end up with isolated systems. I would say that siloed solutions is the very antithesis to security and interoperability. 
Scale is another issue, there is simply such a vast amount of infrastructural issues that need resolving, so approaching this in a solo fashion would be very inefficient and unrealistic.

CoT: Can you give an example (in simple terms) of how blockchain tech can secure devices?

What we (IOTA) have been focusing on first and foremost is the data and compensation mechanism of scaling IoT (Fog and Mist computation/storage/bandwidth etc.) We consider this to directly overlap with security issue due to its relation to the infrastructural problems facing IoT. If an IoT ecosystem relies on very centralized and ‘weakest-link-vulnerable’ solutions it will be incredibly easy to attack and bring it down.
In terms of more abstract security applications of the blockchain and tangle I would highlight the ability to ‘keep the data honest’ as one of the most promising examples of how this technology can help secure devices. *Knowing* that the data is verifiable in the blockchain and cannot be altered on a whim is imperative for a world where we have to ‘trust the machines’.