Securing digital transformation through IoT cybersecurity policy

Around the world, organizations and individuals are experiencing a fundamental shift in their relationship with technology. This transformation, often called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, has been characterized as a fusion of the physical, digital and biological worlds, with far-reaching implications for economies and industries, and even humankind. These changes create new opportunities and challenges for policymakers as traditional governance frameworks and models will have to be reconsidered for a different world.

Graphic entitled "What exactly is the Internet of Things" shows relationship between devices, platform and intelligence

Today, we are releasing a new white paper, Cybersecurity Policy for the Internet of Things, which addresses the critical task of developing cybersecurity policies for IoT. This challenge has particular urgency because the merger of physical and digital domains in IoT can heighten the consequences of cyberattacks. The cybersecurity concerns of IoT user communities — whether consumer, enterprise or government — provide a convenient lens for identifying and exploring IoT security issues. For example, enterprises and governments may identify data integrity as a primary concern, while consumers may be most concerned about protecting personal information. Acknowledging these perspectives is just the start; the real question is what industry and government can do to improve IoT security.

Industry can build security into the development and implementation of IoT devices and infrastructure. However, the number of IoT devices, the scale of their deployments, the heterogeneity of systems and the technical challenges of deployment into new scenarios and potentially unsecured environments require an approach specific to IoT. The IoT ecosystem depends on key players with a diverse range of security capabilities — manufacturers and integrators, developers, deployers and operators — and the paper outlines appropriate security practices for each role.

Graphic shows cycle from building IoT product to maintaining IoT solution

Government can support these efforts through the development of IoT cybersecurity policies and guidelines. As stewards of societal well-being and the public interest, governments are in a unique position to serve as catalysts for the development of IoT security practices, build cross-disciplinary partnerships that encourage public-private collaboration and interagency cooperation, and support initiatives that improve IoT security across borders. There is evidence that this work is well underway, as demonstrated by examples of government initiatives from several countries throughout the paper.

Looking forward, IoT cybersecurity policy will only increase in importance as the world grows more connected and reliant on the efficiencies and opportunities that IoT brings. IoT users and policymakers will face new IoT use cases, including situations where users may not even be aware that they are interacting with a connected device, which will prompt new questions about how to manage security needs alongside opportunities for innovation.

The growth of a secure IoT ecosystem through advancements in technology and policy is important to Microsoft and our customers around the world. We will continue to partner with stakeholders from across the public and private sectors to make this a reality. To learn more about Microsoft’s approach to IoT, please visit


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