August 31, 2015

IoT and Industry 4.0: How the IoT is like an ATM

How the IoT is like an ATM

In 1967, a truly game-changing technology entered the marketplace – the automated teller machine, or ATM.

As this article explains, ATMs were the culmination of a ‘long chain of innovations’, from video-display units to the now ubiquitous Windows operating system. Collectively these technologies offered something totally new, that could transform the way people live and work.

In this way, ATMs already have much in common with the Internet of Things (IoT). Like ATMs, the IoT is the culmination of a plethora of highly sophisticated technologies and processes, applying them in a truly global landscape. And like ATMs, the IoT has the potential to transform people’s working (and playing) lives, altering forever the way they communicate and collaborate.

But there’s a more important comparison to make. It’s easy now to forget how alien the notion of plugging a payment card and PIN number into a ‘hole in the wall’ once seemed, how much consumer trust has been built to assure end users that ATMs are secure and reliable. It’s easy, too, to forget that the global ATM infrastructure is largely free from national politics and policy, broadly offering the same secure, reliable experience wherever you are in the world.

This intrinsic, universal trust is a key lesson for the masterminds of the IoT to consider. Because however familiar and ubiquitous the internet now is, there is a significant difference between ‘surfing the web’ on a laptop or smartphone, and knowing that anything from your car to your fridge is generating, storing and transmitting data via the internet. Even the most technologically-savvy end users are likely to find it an initially alienating world, while businesses that have been used to securing their networks from the outside world will have to adapt both mindsets and business processes.

This means that all those involved in the IoT and M2M industries – suppliers, manufacturers, partners and even customers – have a responsibility to ensure that security and data protection is always front of mind, a responsibility to work together to create an IoT built on trust. At Device Authority, we believe there are several key principles to consider:


One of the ways in which ATMs have built powerful consumer trust is by ensuring that customers of most banks can use the majority of ATMs. The infrastructure underpinning ATMs is bank agnostic, ensuring that ease of use and reliability for consumers is put first. Likewise, in the complex IoT landscape, it is vital that data protection and IT security measures work across all hardware and software. It is useful for data to be protected while, for example, stored on one manufacturer’s mobile phone, but unencrypted when transmitted to another.


While most bank customers will not necessarily understand the intricacies of how ATMs physically work, they do have an understanding that information is shared between ATM and bank but no one else, and that their PIN number is a password that should be kept absolutely confidential. It will be crucial for IoT businesses to provide the same clarity over who owns, sees and transmits data.


Like the ATM infrastructure, the IoT has the potential to expand enormously – and very rapidly. Gartner has forecasted that 4.9 billion connected ‘things’ will be in operation this year alone, and 20 billion by 2020. To support such expansion, it is vital for security services to be highly scalable and flexible, able to ‘plug in’ to existing infrastructures without disruption.

Device Authority’s Data Encryption Security Platform is designed to meet these challenges head-on and help create an IoT landscape with trust and reliability at its core.

Darron Antill