The common challenges confronting IoT testing include testing across cloud platforms and data protocols, rising cybersecurity threats, and lack of standardization, among others.
The global digital ecosystem is a maze of complex software applications running numerous activities across on-premise and cloud-based systems. These applications also form part of the embedded devices that are connected to the internet. Known as the Internet of Things or IoT, the combination of such software and hardware communicating with each other across the internet is growing at a rapid pace. As per Gartner, the global research and advisory company, the world is going to have around 20.4 billion IoT devices by the end of 2020. And enterprises are leveraging IoT devices alongside software development to remain competitive.
The array of such devices is mindboggling as they range from self-driven cars and automated washing machines to kitchen appliances, room heaters, and ovens, among others. As the world moves towards embracing more automation, the role of IoT devices has become critical. To ensure the embedded software within IoT devices works on expected lines, IoT testing cannot be ignored. However, given the expanding dimension of IoT devices, there are challenges galore when it comes to conducting IoT security testing. To address these, the QA specialists should chalk out the best IoT testing approach. Let us delve into the challenges accompanying the testing for IoT devices.
Common challenges in testing IoT devices
The slew of challenges QA testers faces while testing IoT devices is as follows:
1. Testing across cloud platforms: The smooth functioning of IoT devices depends on their connectivity with various cloud platforms like Azure, AWS, IBM Watson, and others. To ensure the usability of such devices, they need to be tested across all these cloud platforms. Moreover, in a real IoT ecosystem, the devices generate a lot of structured as well as unstructured data. These should be tested for accuracy and integrity to obtain the expected outcomes.
Since it would be practically difficult to test every IoT device working on different OS versions in a real-time environment, building IoT device testing solutions becomes important. Further, there would be version upgrades for the IoT devices in addition to the updates for software and firmware. Hence, it is important to test every device across platforms (OS, browsers, and cloud) to ensure the components work seamlessly and efficiently.
2. Testing for data protocol: In a real-time IoT environment, devices use various communication protocols like XMPP, AMPQ, MQTT, and CoAP, among others. These protocols help to establish a connection between devices and between devices and the server. So, every IoT device needs to be tested across communication protocols to ensure they work efficiently, reliably, and securely.
Further, different component within an IoT system may use different communication protocols to interact with each other. And unless these components are tested across communication protocols, the hidden glitches shall continue to cause functional or security issues. The sensors present within devices may run out of memory when loaded with requests beyond a threshold. So, instead of routing these requests directly to the sensors, they use the IoT gateway to balance the load requests across components. An IoT testing exercise helps to check the load balance between components and prolong their operational life.
3. Security threats: There is a high volume of data generated and transferred across components within a device, between devices, and between devices and the server. Such a high volume of data can have concerns about security such as causing a data breach or allowing unauthorized access. Since IoT devices generating a high volume of data can be vulnerable to cybersecurity threats, they should be subjected to the Internet of Things testing. This way the security loopholes can be identified and addressed. For example, it is critical to test the passwords and other credentials periodically by taking recourse to IoT security testing.
4. Standardization issues: There is a need to standardize the IoT environment at different levels such as connectivity, communication protocols, platforms, and business models. Moreover, since each company builds devices with varying hardware and software configurations, there is a lack of uniformity in standardization. Also, there is a lack of standardization in the testing procedures as most of the testing is done on the basis of the intended use of the IoT system. A uniform standardization across connectivity, communication protocols, platforms, and business models will facilitate testing for IoT devices.
In addition to the aforementioned challenges, there are other challenges like network issues and insufficient battery life, among others that testers face during testing IoT applications. It is only by pursuing a proper IoT testing framework comprising structured requirement, unit testing, and integration testing that IoT devices can function seamlessly.