Alan Grau on the importance of IoT security

Alan Grau has 25 years of experience in telecommunications and creating cybersecurity solutions.

Grau is the VP of IoT and Embedded Solutions at Sectigo, a cybersecurity company that provides computer and internet security worldwide.

He joined Sectigo in May 2019 as part of the company’s acquisition of Icon Labs, a West Des Moines-based company that provided security solutions for device manufacturers, where he was CTO and co-founder. Prior to founding Icon Labs, Grau worked for AT&T Bell Labs and Motorola. 

“The acquistion hasn’t changed the overall vision of what we’re doing. Sectigo is a certificate authority company that was beginning to build more things for IoT devices, and a lot of the products we’d developed utilized certificate for authentication,” said Grau. “So what Sectigo was doing and what we were doing was very complimentary. My focus hasn’t changed a great deal other than being part of a larger organization. We’ve got more resources, a bigger marketing team and a bigger sales force to really scale up what we’re doing.”

Grau says that security surrounding IoT devices has followed a similar path to previous technologies, but is also unique in that each IoT device has its own operating system that often requires different solutions.

“If you look at the evolution of early PC’s, they were horribly insecure because people weren’t thinking about how these would be massively connected they would and the importance of security. The first generations of smartphones were insecure. Early technology always tends to be less secure,” said Grau. “Security tends to be something people don’t think about until a technology is widely deployed. IoT is really following that same evolution, but because they are specialized devices running different operating systems, there are some unique challenges.”

Grau is improving IoT security by developing software solutions that can easily be moved from device to device.

“What we’ve done is developed a set of software solutions that provide security functions that are very portable,” said Grau. “If you look at our history as a consulting company, we were developing custom products for people wanting various real-time operating systems in embedded devices. So we have the skills to build solutions that can easily be moved between products.”

Grau noted that security now isn’t only a requirement for most applications, but it is also a competitive advantage.

“Companies just need to be more proactive. Regardless of the manufacturer and regardless of the industry, they need to recognize and address security more holistically. If they don’t they’re going to be left behind.”

Presenting at Iowa Tech Summit

Grau will be presenting at the 2019 Iowa Tech Summit on Oct 1. His session, “Security Inside the Device,” will discuss how manufacturers, business owners and home users can better protect their IoT devices.

“The focus of it is cybersecurity for IoT devices,” said Grau. “I’ll be talking about some of the history, some of the trends and what today’s solutions are.”

Previous coverage

Middle Bit: West Des Moines-based Icon Labs acquired by Sectigo -May 10, 2019