As the Internet of Things (IoT) proliferates, so too do concerns about the risks that can accompany a connected lifestyle. According to Gartner and other industry reports, there will be 21-50 billion connected devices by 2020. By 2018, IDC predicted that 66 percent of networks will have an IoT security breach.

Bringing security to the forefront of product development is UL’s principal engineer and cybersecurity services lead, Ken Modeste, who turned a personal interest in using connected technologies in his home into a professional capacity.

“I started working with electronic security systems and became an early adopter of new technology – equipping my home with smart products such as doorbells, locks and cameras,” explains Modeste. “I enjoyed following tech conversations on Reddit and trying to evaluate my personal systems to assess their security; it quickly became a big part of my technical expertise and professional capabilities.”

Related: Q&A with Ken Modeste of UL: Securing Our Critical Infrastructure

Modeste started to incorporate these technology security skill sets into his role as an engineering manager at GE. Then, in the years following the September 11th attacks, Modeste observed drastic changes to the global security environment.

“After 9/11, legislation around cybersecurity started to appear and the need for protecting infrastructure and facilities only grew from there,” says Modeste. “What started as physical security concerns moved to cybersecurity as the public began to understand the risks associated with new technologies. That’s when I shifted my focus into mitigating cyber risks specifically.”

In 2009, Modeste, a native of Trinidad, left the beaches of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., where he lived at the time, and cut his one-year work sabbatical short to join the Building and Life Safety Technologies group at UL. His first assignments were helping to build and develop cybersecurity programs for the U.S. Government.

Most recently, Modeste helped launch UL’s Cybersecurity Assurance Program (CAP). The CAP program minimizes cybersecurity risks by assessing software vulnerabilities and weaknesses, minimizing exploitation, addressing known malware, reviewing security controls and increasing security awareness. UL CAP helps manufacturers focus on product innovation by helping them build safer and more secure products, as well as reduce risks by sourcing supplies validated by a trusted third-party.

This past year, UL also initiated a research project with a federal agency to examine its cybersecurity challenges and develop a process to test the security of IoT gateways for industrial control system (ICS) applications.

“Organizations are quickly realizing the wide-reaching effects that a breach may cause and the need to find technical expertise in cybersecurity,” Modeste adds. “We are building trust and confidence for our customers with the buyers of their consumer electronics, factory equipment and medical devices.”

Learn more from Ken Modeste:  End-to-End Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure – from IIoT to Electronic Physical Security