Why IoT projects are hard?

2023-12-12

IoT devices are different in a way they connect, interact and talk to the outside world, and traditional VPNs do not necessarily facilitate the usage of such devices.

«IP camera oil painting» by DALL-E.
«IP camera oil painting» by DALL-E.

IoT devices are different in a way they connect, interact and talk to the outside world, and traditional VPNs do not necessarily facilitate the usage of such devices.

IP cameras

Photo by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash.
  • Does your IP camera encrypt the video stream? Probably not.
  • Does your IP camera have a static IP address? You probably don't want to pay for it.
  • Can your IP camera run a VPN client? Chances are it can't.

Your option without a VPN is to find a more expensive camera that encrypts the video stream and subscribe for an APN from your mobile connectivity provider.

Your option with a VPN is to redirect traffic from the router to the camera using network bridge, port forwarding or other type of network sorcery. You're lucky if you have DevOps engineer who can do that and then scale and maintain the configuration for the whole device fleet.

EV chargers

Photo by Sophie Jonas on Unsplash.

These devices speak OCPP protocol, this protocol is encrypted, and there is a server with a public IP address on the other end of the wire. There is no problem running EV charger this way.

The problems begin when you want to use your own OCPP server without public IP address. You put the server on a VPN. Now you need to connect the charger to the VPN, but the charger can't run a VPN client. Again you have to resort to port forwarding and have the same problem as with IP cameras.

Other devices

Temperature sensors, smart sockets, smart locks and many other IoT devices have the same problem: they can't run a VPN client, yet you want all of these devices appear in your VPN for the sake of security.

A way forward

IoT devices are different in a way they connect, interact and talk to the outside world. VPN providers should stop treating IoT devices as second-class citizens. Why call IoT the Internet of Things when you can't safely bring the devices to the VPN, let alone Internet?

Staex logo.

Staex is a secure public network for IoT devices that can not run a VPN such as smart meters, IP cameras, and EV chargers. Staex encrypts legacy protocols, reduces mobile data usage, and simplifies building networks with complex topologies through its unique multi-hop architecture. Staex is fully zero-trust meaning that no traffic is allowed unless specified by the device owner which makes it more secure than even some private networks. With this, Staex creates an additional separation layer to provide more security for IoT devices on the Internet, also protecting other Internet services from DDoS attacks that are usually executed on millions of IoT machines.

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