FlexNet Connect 2014 looks to reduce hacker risk for Internet-connected devices

Flexera Software, a provider of Application Usage Management solutions for application producers and enterprises, has released FlexNet Connect 2014, a component part of the FlexNet Producer Suite that will enable software vendors and intelligent device manufacturers to electronically deliver software updates and obtain insights into product and application behaviour.

FlexNet Connect 2014 has been developed to provide new communications, device management and update capabilities, enabling new product and service offerings and easier software updates, patches and bug fixes for Internet-connected devices.

“Internet-connected devices powered by software and controlled via licensing and entitlement management systems open up myriad new revenue opportunities. For instance, companies can leverage data reported back by the device on its operational status and behaviour to develop new product and service offerings,” explained Amy Konary, Research Vice President – Software Licensing & Provisioning at IDC. “However, Internet-connected devices also can open up potential exposure to hackers, so device manufacturers also need reliable methods to monitor for such risks and repair any vulnerabilities that may arise.”

FlexNet Connect 2014 provides the communications and software delivery infrastructure that will allow manufacturers to identify and deliver new product/services to their customers. A new Device Viewer provides advanced reporting on data coming from the device, giving the application producer the ability to perform remote diagnostics or deep product analysis. Data such as device-specific profile information, applications updates or even event data picked up by sensors monitoring the device can be leveraged for product upgrades, add-ons or service calls – expanding the device manufacturer’s relationship with its customer.

“In the old days, a manufacturer had a narrow window to identify customer needs and sell product – and that window wouldn’t open again until the product wore out or needed replacement – often years later. Today that selling window is open all the time, and limited only by the device manufacturers’ readiness to innovate,” said Mathieu Baissac, Flexera Software’s Vice President of Product Management. “If a dishwasher reports back through FlexNet Connect 2014 of an impending breakdown, there’s an opportunity to schedule a revenue-generating service call. If the software controlling security in a home automation system shows heavier use in high-income areas, this could identify an opportunity for the manufacturer to package more robust home security features into a separate add-on product. FlexNet Connect 2014 provides a mechanism for intelligent device manufacturers to collect vital device data and transform it into revenue-generating intelligence.”

One issue that continues to affect the idea and adoption of the Internet of Things is the risks associated with hackers detecting and exploiting vulnerabilities in Internet-connected devices. Businesses fear exposing their customers to Internet criminals without a means to fix the problem, and they also fear potential repercussions due to regulatory non-compliance.

FlexNet Connect 2014 looks to alleviate these concerns through a number of new capabilities to provide secure downloads of software, bug fixes and patches directly to the device or software product – ensuring the customer is running the latest software. To further provide a secure environment, FlexNet Licensing can be added to ensure only licensed and credentialed users can access products according to software licensing terms. A new in-application client solution provides full control of the update experience no matter where that software resides, including OS X x86-32/64 and Linux ARM-32. A new porting kit enables producers to embed FlexNet Connect 2014 into a device running any embedded real time operating system, providing control over the update experience on embedded devices. Finally, FlexNet Connect 2014 helps further prevent unauthorised software downloads with a new mechanism allowing the producer to communicate with the entitlement back office in order to customise download URL’s, and provide a mechanism for entitlement based updates and expiring URL’s.

“Software vendors and device manufacturers are constantly upgrading their software to improve their products and fix bugs and patch vulnerabilities – but unless those updates get pushed out to the device or software product – they’re worthless. FlexNet Connect 2014 looks to provide additional functionality to ensure producers have more control over implementation of critical software updates,” said Baissac. “Moreover, many manufacturers – such as medical device companies – have additional regulatory compliance hurdles, such as requirements that customers are running the latest device software versions. FlexNet Connect 2014 now makes it easier for device manufacturers to ensure their customers are protected with the latest software updates – and that they’re in compliance with regulatory requirements.”


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