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What is IoT security?

The Internet of Things (IoT) solves pressing business problems but often poses concerning challenges. IoT technology has offered several benefits to various businesses (healthcare, transportation, etc.), and at the same time, it has rolled out security concerns with its rising interconnectedness. Entities in IoT aren’t necessarily the same type of devices, objects, or services. Every entity has a different purpose, interface, operating mechanism, and technology. Considering the diversity, applying security constructs that are the same as the constructs of other assets won’t yield expected outcomes while ensuring cybersecurity. It makes IoT security one of the top priorities for organizations intending to safeguard their assets from malicious attacks.

What is IoT security?

IoT security refers to the methods of protection used to secure internet-connected or network-based devices. The term IoT is incredibly broad, and with the technology continuing to evolve, the term has only become broader. From watches to thermostats to video game consoles, nearly every technological device has the ability to interact with the internet, or other devices, in some capacity.

IoT security is the family of techniques, strategies, and tools used to protect these devices from becoming compromised. Ironically, it is the connectivity inherent to IoT that makes these devices increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Because IoT is so broad, IoT security is even broader. This has resulted in a variety of methodologies falling under the umbrella of IoT security. Application program interface (API) security, public key infrastructure (PKI) authentication, and network security are just a few of the methods IT leaders can use to combat the growing threat of cybercrime and cyberterrorism rooted in vulnerable IoT devices.

iot security

Why is it important?

Companies are increasingly taking advantage of IoT and OT devices to improve productivity and increase visibility into their operations. As a result, growing numbers of networked devices deployed on corporate networks have access to sensitive data and critical systems.

Often, these devices have security issues that make them vulnerable to attack and place the rest of the organization at risk. For example, cyber threat actors commonly target unprotected printers, smart lighting, IP cameras, and other networked devices to gain access to an organization’s network. From there, they can move laterally through the network to access more critical devices and sensitive data and create ransomware and/or double extortion cyberattacks that can render a business’ network useless.

Securing the company against cyber threats requires securing all devices connected to the corporate network. IoT security is a vital component of a corporate cybersecurity strategy because it limits the risks posed by these insecure, networked devices.

Benefits of IoT security

  • Protect valuable data and intellectual property in the IoT network. IoT security will prevent hackers from tampering with AI, software, and logic systems in the IoT network.
  • Enabling companies to market their product as secure products, can be a valuable competitive advantage not offered by competitors.
  • Improve cost savings, efficiency, and productivity. Because we are sure the IoT network and devices can be fully trusted, we can use the IoT system to automate otherwise expensive operations and to make important decisions.
  • By ensuring the IoT system is fully secure, we can present accurate and trusted usage data to potential partners and investors, opening doors to opportunities
  • Enabling companies to chase more opportunities with new business models by ensuring the ability to generate reliable data and stable features.
  • Establish trust, control, and integrity so companies can sell products to consumers while preventing fraud and securing payments.

IoT Security Best Practices

Securing IoT devices requires securing both the devices themselves and their connections to the corporate network. Some best practices for securing networked devices include:

  • Discovery and Risk Analysis IoT Devices: Often, organizations lack visibility into the IoT devices connected to their networks because employees may connect unauthorized systems, and IoT devices may not support traditional endpoint security protections. Completing a full inventory of networked devices is essential to securing IoT systems on the corporate network. Finding a solution that can uncover all of the connections within your network within minutes should be a top priority.
  • Zero-Trust Network Access and Segmentation of the IoT Network: If IoT devices are deployed on the same network as other corporate systems, or are accessible from the Internet, then they are a potential access vector for attackers. IoT devices should be segmented from the rest of the corporate network to minimize the risk that they pose to other corporate systems. Then apply a zero trust policy to only allow normal operational access.
  • Patch Vulnerable Systems: Like other computers, IoT devices can have vulnerable software and firmware. Installing updates and patching vulnerabilities is essential to securing IoT and OT devices. When devices cannot be taken offline to patch them, deploy Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) to prevent network-based exploits.

iot security

Some challenges

IoT devices encounter several security challenges that pose a risk for organizations and enterprises using them.

Here are a few notable IoT security challenges:

  • Improper handling of device-related security risks, which primarily emerge because these devices don’t get regular updates.
  • Weak credentials and default passwords make devices vulnerable to brute force attacks or password hacking.
  • Ongoing hybridization of both ransomware and malware strains makes devices vulnerable to different types of attacks.
  • The use of IoT botnets for mining cryptocurrency risks the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data in IoT devices

IoT Security is a necessity

All IoT projects and applications are always at risk from various security threats. It’s crucial to use only devices, equipment, and software solutions that are designed for security from the ground up. Also, it’s important to establish a clear IoT security strategy as early as possible when planning your IoT project. By using the IoT security checklist we’ve shared above, you can also ensure all elements and potential access points of the IoT system are closely monitored. Identifying and protecting your IoT devices and network can save you time, resources, and confidential data in the long run. So, although IoT security can be challenging to implement at first, it will be worth it in the long run.

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