IoT and Edge computing: cybersecurity challenges in a digitally disrupted world


This post was originally published on the techUK website as a guest blog as part of their #TransformingEdge campaign week on 13 May 2020. 

The Internet of Things (IoT), is a term coined two decades ago to describe sensors that would automatically gather data that could be shared with a company’s network to raise efficiency and continuous improvement. With the expansion of the internet virtually any “thing” can now be part of IoT, and functions can include actuation as well as sensing.

We are already living with many IoT enabled devices, at home, at work and in our environment; such as autonomous transport and smart home appliances. This has revolutionised our lives, allowing us to stay connected and flexible, which has proved immensely valuable during Covid-19. Rapidly developing digital technologies, together with social and business trends, are providing huge opportunities for innovation in product and service markets, and in government processes. However, the type of disruptive events we are now facing also highlight the challenges of the invisible “things” of IoT, such as networks and infrastructure, relating to cybersecurity. Trends that are challenging now and will increasingly challenge society, include developments in technologies on the outskirts of the Internet. These include Artificial Intelligence (AI), not just in the cloud but in Edge computing, and in IoT devices and networks.

Cybersecurity and IoT

Cybersecurity is vital for IoT from design to utilisation, as risks of

· information theft (personal data, eavesdropping),

· operation disruption (hacking of control networks),

· corruption of sensor data (energy meter hacking),

· or even falsification of information (product provenance) are high.

IoT is becoming more pervasive, multifactorial and smarter. Technologies are developing, and include machine learning to improve efficiency, so we need to identify the challenges and provide answers where gaps and threats are determined.


The PETRAS National Centre of Excellence launched as part of the UK government’s wider initiative to become a leader in tackling cyber threats and maximise the economic and societal benefits of IoT systems technology. It exists to ensure barriers to adoption are minimised through technological advances in the IoT, developed and applied safely and securely in consumer and business contexts. We consider social and technical issues relating to the cybersecurity of IoT devices, systems and networks, especially how these can be developed to deal with future challenges in the long-term. We deliver trustworthy research, advice and demonstration of reliable and secure technologies through collaboration with academia, industry and government.

Future implementation With an increasing number of devices being connected to the internet (an expected 75 billion by 2025) it is important that technology is available, protected and secure.

PETRAS projects are organised within six sectors that help define research challenges in real-world context: Ambient Environments; Supply Chains and Control Systems; Infrastructure; Health and Wellbeing; Agritech; and Transport and Mobility. We work in partnership with government and industry to ensure our research can be directly applied to benefit society, business and the economy.

Recent exciting advances in technology and computing have led PETRAS to create a unique cross-sectoral research expertise. This encompasses a specialist focus on AI and Machine Learning at the ‘edge’ of the Internet to add functionality and to mitigate potential threats. This includes projects focusing on: · good practices for resilient architectures for cybersecurity, · developing AI and machine learning to autonomously predict and adapt against cyber threats.

These topics are especially prevalent in Health and Agritech. Smart technologies used in farming can rapidly generate large amounts of data and help tackle the wider cybersecurity risk of the farm-to-table-supply chain. A well-known cybersecurity challenge in healthcare is a lack of unified security standards across healthcare organisations. New emerging technologies and networks present huge opportunities, but also a challenge for IoT systems in finding a balance on flexibility while securing personal data.

PETRAS research shows that our understanding of IoT can be developed in the long run to face these future challenges. This is done by providing a framework for analysing the application of emerging technologies, behavioural response and addressing challenges like Covid-19 by building trust in technology amongst end-users, industries and the government. Thus, PETRAS considers issues of Privacy, Ethics, Trust, Reliability, Accessibility and Security as they relate to IoT devices, systems and networks.

If you would like to discuss how PETRAS can help you, please contact the business development team on