More than 50 billion devices are expected to be in use by 2020 as the world gets more connected. But the Internet of Things increases our vulnerability and gives hackers more opportunity to intrude. The $48.6 billion network equipment maker Cisco sees a big opportunity in safely connecting these billions of devices
Imagine a world where someone takes control of your self-driven car or hacks into your bank account through your smartphone. As the world readies for billions of connected devices, digital security companies are preparing for new, more sophisticated challenges. Over 50 billion connected devices are going to be used worldwide by 2020 and that poses enormous challenges to a world dependent on internet.
“The Internet of Things is going to drive a lot of new types of attacks. The scale, speed and scope of the challenge is rising exponentially because more devices mean more information and more opportunities for attackers,” says Christopher Young, senior vice-president, securities business group at Cisco Systems Inc. The biggest network equipment company in the world is seeing huge opportunity even as the ecosystem turns virtual.
Cisco is also turning its attention to the security of the networks that are about to connect billions of devices and cars across the world over the next few years. There is more money to be made from hacking today rather than from working as a technology professional. Data security is at among the topmost concerns for the government and corporates, who find themselves pitted against increasingly sophisticated and organised attackers. “The attack landscape has really changed. This is what I would call the industrialisation of hacking. Ten years ago hacking was a hobby, today it is a profession. It is faster and more dynamic than the underlying IT infrastructure,” says Young.
Cisco’s security business is worth $1.6 billion in annualised revenue including Sourcefire, a network security company acquired by Cisco last year. The security business grew by 20% in deal terms and 10% in revenue in the previous quarter. “Security is just one part of Cisco and if we were a standalone security company, we would be one of the top three companies globally. We paid $2.7 billion last year for Sourcefire. The India team has doubled in size in two years,” says Young, emphasising the importance the company is attaching to the security business. Long-term growth of the security business will remain in the 10-15% range, Young says.
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