IoT security comparison: Alibaba Cloud, AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud

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IoT security

In a highly connected world, IoT (Internet of Things) platforms are increasingly gaining momentum that make the development and deployment of IoT much simpler. The devices used in IoT are both smart and connected – they gather and share data without human involvement. According to Safeatlast, there are 127 new devices being connected to the internet every second.

These devices enable the information to get collected and flow on a larger scale with unusual levels of speed and detail. This also makes the IoT devices vulnerable and an easy target for bad actors. An attacker targeting these devices may view those devices to an extent that could compromise an entire network.

For organizations choosing an IoT platform, it is important to go through the security features over which IoT services are being executed to guarantee that the data is managed with complete protection, and any uncertain risks are identified and addressed.

To help you choose the best IoT security service, we have compiled the features of the top IoT services.

Alibaba Cloud IoT Security

Alibaba IoT Platform provides secure communication between devices and IoT platform within the platform, through which users can manage many devices at a single place. It also provides high security to individual device security.

The below diagram summarizes the basis to build IoT applications.

IoT security

Source: Alibaba

The security verification and authorization are very significant requirements in the IoT devices. Alibaba IoT platform does it in many ways.

  • Authentication:

– It provides chip-level security solutions and DeviceSecret mechanism to create high security to the devices and prevent DeviceSecret from being cracked.

– It provides a unique certificate per device authentication to the IoT device. Each device needs to use this authentication certificate to connect to the IoT platform.

– There is a unique certificate per product to prevent the risk of devices being attacked.

– For communication security, it supports various data channels like TLS and DTSL protocols to ensure the privacy and integrity of the communication between devices and the cloud.

  • Validation:

Alibaba’s IoT platform uses access key information to identify user permission and allows users to operate only in the authorized areas.

There are basic and pro versions for users. With the Basic version, the charges are based on the message usage, and in pro version (device management services) charges are based on your service usage rate. Alibaba provides 1,000,000 messages free of charge for beginners.

Read reviews of Alibaba IoT Platform.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT Device Defender

AWS IoT Device Defender is a fully managed security service that allows users to audit the configuration of their IoT devices, monitor and mitigate security risks on an ongoing basis. It offers out-of-the-box tools that users can use to identify threats and respond to security issues.

The below diagram summarizes IoT device behaviour with AWS’s IoT Device Defender.

Source: AWS

AWS offers two services: auditing and monitoring of devices.

Customers can use auditing services to run audits of the device on-demand or schedule them as per need. They can further monitor device activity which is collected from the cloud.

The charges are based on the number of devices and data monitored. AWS also offers free Tier to customers that allows them to use devices sending up to 1 million data points in the first month.

Read reviews of AWS IoT Device Defender.

Azure Sphere

Azure Sphere provides authentication and high security to internet-connected Microcontroller (MCU) devices and applications.

Microcontrollers are tiny chips designed to perform specific tasks where the relationship of input and output is defined. This whole solution is for creating secured connected Microcontroller (MCU) devices that can be controlled, updated and maintained remotely.

The below diagram summarizes how the service communicates with Contoso’s cloud services.

IoT security

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft’s Azure Sphere solution has three components:

  • Certificate-based authentication: It provides remote attestation and certificate-based authentication of the device. The remote attestation checks and guarantees if the device was booted with the correct software, as well as the correct version of it. The authentication service validates the certificate chain of the device to safely connect it with the online service.
  • Update: This component delivers automatic updates for the Azure Sphere OS and applications to ensure continued operation of the application software.
  • Failure reporting: This component provides crash reporting for deployed software.

The pricing is based on volume, capabilities and customer’s requirements.

Google Cloud IoT Core

Google Cloud IoT Core is a fully managed service that you can use to connect, manage and ingest data from IoT devices. It supports the standard MQTT and HTTP protocols for talking to connected devices and sensors.

The below diagram summarizes the service components and flow of data.

Source: Google

Google offers extraordinary tools, as well as integration with Google Big for data analytics and a wide range of machine learning services, such as Cloud Dataflow, BigQuery, etc. It allows the management of registered devices where all the devices are stored with security credentials, and you can use it to blacklist or whitelist any device.

Further, it also supports the authentication of applications and devices through public/private key pairs and JSON Web Tokens.

To use Google Cloud IoT, users pay for the amount of data exchanged. The first 250 MB per month is free, and after that, an amount of $0.0045 is charged per MB.

Read reviews of Google Cloud IoT Core.

IBM Watson IoT Platform

IBM Watson IoT Platform is a fully managed service designed to derive value from your IoT devices. Users can connect, manage and process their IoT devices, as well as control and monitor their service usage. It uses MQTT with TLS to secure data between IoT devices and services.

The below diagram summarizes IBM’s IoT service infrastructure.


Source: IBM

The Watson IoT Platform uses AI to process the data from IoT devices instantly. It uses blockchain to validate and secure the information shared across the ecosystem. IBM has a device management system on the back-end similar to AWS and Azure offerings.

The pricing is on a subscription basis. IBM also offers some free service in the first month of up to 100 MB per month.

 Read reviews of IBM Watson IoT Platform.

Winding up

Now, the verdict is up to you. There are many choices when it comes to cloud-based IoT platform. If you are looking for an IoT service that is well supported and scalable, go for the top cloud providers’ IoT services. The table below provides a quick review of features and functionalities of different services. You won’t have to take the burden to manage services and control your IoT devices. This lets you boost your organizations’ operational efficiency.

IoT PlatformDevice ManagementSecurity IntegrationTypes of Analytics
Alibaba CloudYesEncryption (TLS, DTLS, symmetric), Authentication (JSON)-Real-time analytics (Apache Flink)
AWSYesEncryption (TLS) 1.2, Authentication (SigV4, X.509)REST APIReal-time analytics (Rules Engine, Amazon Kinesis, AWS Lambda)
AzureYesEncryption - TLS (PSK/RSA), Authentication (TLS RSA/PSK, IPSec, RFC 4279)REST APIReal-time analytics (Azure IoT Hub)
Google CloudYesEncryption (TLS), Authentication (JSON)REST APIReal-time analytics (Cloud Pub/Sub, Cloud Dataflow and BigQuery)
IBM CloudYesEncryption (SSL/TLS), Authentication (certificate based such as HiveMQ), Identity management (LDAP)REST and Real-time APIsReal-time analytics (IBM IoT Real-Time Insights)

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