IoT Security- Part 23 (IoT Security Compliance, Guidelines and Recommendations by GSMA Part 1)


To address the threat and vulnerability issues encountered by IoT
devices for consumers,industry and critical infrastructure, a variety of
IoT security standards have been developed and there are more standards
under development.Globally there are compliances and guidelines for IoT
security that helps IoT manufacturers to architect/design secure IoT
systems.This gives confidence to the customer to identify secure

Following are some the regulatory agencies for globally accepted IoT
security compliance and guidelines

ISO : International Organization for Standardization

NIST : National Institute of Standards and Technology

OWASP : Open Web Application Security Project

IoTSF : IoT Security Foundation

GSMA : Global System for Mobile communication Association

ETSI : European Telecommunication Standards Institute

ENISA : European Union Agency for Cybersecurity

ioXt Alliance : Internet of Service Things

These agencies provide the guidelines regarding secure by design,
vulnerability assessment and security testing checklist for IoT systems.
Each of these compliance have different viewpoints and methodology
addressing the product security.

With this blog we will start exploring these globally accepted IoT
compliances. We will begin with GSMA IoT security guidelines overview
for IoT ecosystem and in subsequent blogs we will look into specific
guidelines by GSMA for IoT security in endpoint devices and IoT

GSMA IoT Security Guidelines Overview

The GSMA has created the set of security guidelines for the benefit of
service providers who are looking to develop new IoT services and IoT
endpoint devices in an entire IoT ecosystem.

As shown in figure 2,the GSMA provides 4 different sets of guidelines
specific to IoT architecture viz. IoT ecosystem in general, IoT service
ecosystem and IoT endpoint ecosystem alongwith their security assessment
checklist. In addition to that it also provides guidelines for network
operators. The guideline documents are numbered as CLP.1x where CLP
stands for Connected Living Programme.

Source :

For the Internet of Things to evolve effectively, IoT manufacturers must
resolve the security challenges nherent to its growth. These challenges

  1. Availability: Ensuring uninterruptible connectivity between Endpoints
    and their respective services
  2. Identity: Authenticating Endpoint devices and services
  3. Privacy: Reducing the risk to individual end-users
  4. Security: Ensuring that system integrity can be verified, tracked,
    and monitored

The GSMA IoT guidelines addresses all of the above challenges for the
entire IoT ecosystem. The figure below shows the standard IoT model used
throughout the guideline documents by GSMA.It is portrayed as components
of the service and endpoint ecosystems. Each component is composed of
subcomponents, which are detailed in a document that focuses solely on
the primary component.

Source :

In most of the IoT services and products figure 3 is considered to be
primary components deployed in a production environment.

The IoT Service Ecosystem represents the set of services, platforms,
protocols, and other technologies required to provide capabilities and
collect data from endpoints deployed in the field. This ecosystem
typically gathers data from endpoints and stores them within its server
environment. This data is available to users either through user
interfaces providing visual presentation or accessible as third party
API emerging at the service framework.

The IoT Endpoint Ecosystem consists of low complexity devices, high
performance devices and gateways that connect the physical world to the
digital world via several types of wired and wireless networks. Typical
endpoint devices are motion sensors,atmospheric sensors,automotive
telematics systems, sensor driven industrial control systems etc.
Endpoint devices gather data from sensors or any other physical
environment and push that in different formats via a network interface
such as local network,short range radio access or cellular network to
the IoT service ecosystem, often receiving instructions or actions in

The security guidelines for IoT Service ecosystem and IoT Endpoint
Ecosystem are described in depth in GSMA IoT security guideline document
viz. CLP.12 and CLP.13 respectively. These guidelines will be discussed
in our subsequent blogs of the series.

Based on a set of policies,procedures, methodology, mitigation and
response to gaps in security in technical contexts the organization
evaluates risk assessment to secure overall business. Thus risk
assessment becomes a critical part for any organization opting for

Considering different stages in IoT ecosystems the IoT services and
endpoint devices create,receive and share data at each stage. A key
challenge the IoT makers face that there are multiple laws dealing with
privacy and data protection. The data privacy regulations vary from
different industry sectors to different countries. The GSMA guidelines
for both IoT service and endpoint devices addresses risk assessment and
privacy consideration at each stage.

GSMA IoT Security Guidelines Effectiveness

The beauty of GSMA IoT security guidelines is that it can help the
organization to implement security at any stage i.e whether IoT makers
who are in the initial phase of a project or whether the product has
already been deployed in the industrial environment. Also while
assessing the security measures GSMA has taken a reference of CERT
OCTAVE model and NIST Risk Management Framework.

To get most out of these documents there are certain steps GSMA suggests
that the organization needs to follow . Those are mentioned below

  1. Evaluate the technical model
  2. Review the current product or service’s Security Model
  3. Review and evaluate Recommendations
  4. Implementation and Review
  5. Ongoing Lifecycle

Let us try to understand each of these steps in brief.

Evaluate the technical model :

It is one of the fundamental steps in understanding the IoT model of
service or product. The component of IoT systems can be mapped to model
selection guidelines for IoT service and endpoint ecosystem. It simply
uses the class of components such as a microcontroller, communication
module, or trust anchor, as the context.This process corresponds with
the first and second phases of the CERT OCTAVE risk assessment model or
the Frame stage of the NIST Risk Management Framework.

Review the current security model :

Second step as per guidelines is review of the security model for
endpoint or service being assessed. This section assists an IoT team
from the viewpoint of an attacker so as to find out the
vulnerabilities.This will help organization to gain understanding of
risk and threats to security model. Similar to stage one this process
also corresponds with the first and second phase of the CERT OCTAVE risk
assessment model or the Frame stage of the NIST Risk Management

Review and Evaluate Recommendations :

The next stage is to review and evaluate how security tasks can be
resolved. For this GSMA has sections viz. Method,Expense and Risk

The Method section provide methodologies that assist in the mitigation
of the corresponding security risk.An Expense section is provided to
discuss, where applicable, extra financial expenses that the
organization should prepare for when implementing a particular
recommendation.A Risk section is also provided so the reader understands
the gaps in security that are likely to result from not implementing a
particular recommendation.

This process corresponds to the steps six, seven, and eight of CERT
OCTAVE risk assessment model and the Assess step of the NIST Risk
Management Framework.

Implementation and Review :

The business shall now create a clear architectural model for each
Component being adjusted, and use the Risk Assessment process chosen by
the organization to develop a threat model of each Component,
incorporating the Recommendations and Risks that are appropriate for
each Component and Security Task. When the architectural model is completed,
the organization can begin implementing each Recommendation in order to fulfill the
Security Tasks.

This process corresponds with the step eight of CERT OCTAVE risk
assessment model and the Respond component of the NIST Risk Management

Ongoing Lifecycle :

Both endpoint devices and IoT services have a lifetime and they need to
be upgraded over a period of time.Also cryptographic algorithms become
out-dated or deprecated.The new protocols and radio technologies must be
integrated with the product or service. This ever changing ecosystem
when deployed, must be constantly reviewed to ensure that
confidentiality, integrity, availability, and authenticity are
maintained.This process corresponds with the step one, four, and five of
CERT OCTAVE risk assessment model and Monitor and Frame components of
the NIST Risk Management Framework.

Use case for IoT Endpoint Device as per GSMA Guidelines

Let’s explore the industrial use case of assets tracking Bluetooth Low
Energy (BLE) beacon to evaluate it from the guidelines mentioned by
GSMA. Here we have endpoint and service ecosystems both.

The endpoint overview :

First, let’s start by evaluating the hardware design of the endpoint.

The BLE beacon is composed of standard components i.e BLE enabled
microcontroller unit (MCU) and sensors such as triaxial accelerometer,
temperature and humidity for tracking and monitoring condition of
asset.The sensor data is transmitted by built-in BLE . Here BLE stack is
considered as version 5.0. The complete hardware is a coin cell battery
powered.According to the Endpoint Ecosystem document, this device would
fit into the Lightweight Endpoint class of devices.

The service overview :

In the context of service ecosystem, the endpoint device gets scanned by
IoT gateway and data is pushed to back end service over WiFi. The back
end service for the application simply associates the device owner with
the data features being captured and stores them in a local database of
the application server.

Data visualization can be achieved using either the mobile application
or via the service’s

web application. Device users can log into the service provider’s web
application to perform more actions with the metrics captured by the

According to the Service Ecosystem document of GSMA,this device would
fit into the service class of devices.

The security model:

Following the GSMA IoT security guidelines the design team at endpoint
and service may come up with following questions in order to secure the
product and services.

From an endpoint perspective:

  1. Cloning
  2. Endpoint impersonation
  3. Service impersonation
  4. Ensuring privacy

From a service perspective:

  1. Cloning
  2. Hacked services
  3. Identifying anomalous endpoint behavior
  4. Reduction in data loss and exploitation
  5. Managing user privacy
  6. Improving availability

Now after studying the above mentioned issues it may be followed that
the endpoint device i.e BLE beacon needs minimal security as it has
limited functionality. Unless the firmware of the endpoint is
encrypted,there is no real threat of attack against the endpoint within
the given use case. To handle privacy issue the organization should
ensure that each endpoint device should have unique personalized
encryption token so that compromising on a single endpoint will not
affect the privacy of other devices. If the unique encryption keys were
encoded into the firmware locked microcontroller, it would be feasible
to accept that this use case was sufficiently secured from the threat of
cloning, impersonation, and privacy issues. The future blogs will
address in depth security assessment of such models from a view point of


The IoT standards and guidelines if used effectively make substantial
impact on performance of the IoT ecosystem. These compliances provide
profound directives for designing and assessing security aspects of IoT
products and effectively address the threat.

GSMA has a unique way of evaluating risk assessment by assigning
priorities to security recommendations and validating corresponding
responses by IoT makers. This helps an organization to implement the
security at any stage and ensure end product security.


  1. CLP.11-v2.2-GSMA-IoT-Security-Guidelines-Overview-Document,
  2. CLP.12-v2.2-GSMA-IoT-Security-Guidelines-for-Service-Ecosystems
  3. CLP.13-v2.2-GSMA-IoT-Security-Guidelines-for-Endpoint-Ecosystems
  4. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)’s Risk
    Management Framework
  5. Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT)’s OCTAVE model

About Payatu

Payatu is a research-powered cybersecurity service and training organization specialized in IoT, embedded, mobile, cloud, infrastructure security, and advanced security training. We offer a full IoT/IIoTT ecosystem security assessment, including hardware, firmware, middleware, and application interfaces. If you are looking for security testing services then let’s talk, share your requirements: Payatu is at the front line of IoT security research, with a great team, and in house tools like In the last 8+ years, Payatu has performed, security assessment of 100+ IoT/IIoT product ecosystems and we understand the IoT ecosystem inside out. Get in touch with us. Click on the get started button below.

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