The Internet of Things (IoT) technology has made our lives more efficient in every aspect. They have also become an essential component of business operations worldwide. However, new security issues continue to emerge as a global network of smart devices evolves and becomes increasingly complex.
The network of IoT physical devices is integrated with sensors, software, and other technologies. These devices are connected to the internet for receiving and transmitting instructions as well as for collecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet.
The ability of IoT to bring data processing and analytics to actual physical devices is its most prominent characteristic. By requiring little to no human intervention in their operation, connected devices can make businesses more efficient, productive, and cost-effective.
In this article, we look at how IoT devices can potentially compromise cybersecurity and how to mitigate risk by having various security protocols in place.
What are the Security Threats for IoT?
The Internet of Things (IoT) has provided us with many useful new devices as well as home and work convenience. However, IoT technologies have also created a new type of security risk for organizations. Because the IoT's many networked devices and sensors (ranging from smartphones, printers, security cameras, thermostats, and intelligent lighting to farm equipment, healthcare devices, and connected vehicles) result in a plethora of possible attack vectors, security is crucial for mitigating cybercrime threats. Security is required at multiple levels, including the containment of IoT networks.
The Internet of Things elevates an organization's exposure to cybercrime.
IoT is a networked system of interconnected computing devices, mechanical machinery, or objects with sensors and software that can transfer or exchange data without human intervention. The processes and technology put in place to prevent or mitigate cyber threats for these devices are referred to as IoT security.
IoT devices create a bridge between a secure network and insecure devices. Every device linked to this network is connected through a range of protocols which include wifi, bluetooth, Near Field Communication (NFC) etc. Insecure devices may be compromised, leading to information theft or unauthorized access. Common types of threats are, Distributed denial of service (DDoS), firmware exploits, Man-in-the-Middle, data inception, brute force, and physical attacks, ransomware, radio frequency jamming, and unauthorized access. Every one of these scenarios can negatively impact business.
As the number of connected devices across an organization increases and more information is shared between a range of devices, the probability of a hacker stealing confidential information increases.
What are the Security Defenses?
The proliferation of sensors and connected devices substantially expands the network attack surface, resulting in an increase in cybersecurity threats. IoT is especially vulnerable because many IoT devices are manufactured without security in mind, or by enterprises that are unfamiliar with modern security requirements. As a result, IoT technologies are becoming a weak link in the security of an organization.
Protecting IoT traffic and devices is a task that no single security technology can solve. Securing the Internet of Things (IoT) does not necessitate a completely new and complex set of ideas and principles. It necessitates a planned approach that makes use of numerous security measures. Therefore, laying defenses in such a way that data and devices are protected even in the event of a breach.
Specific strategies and tools should be a core component of an enterprise IoT strategy.
Ways to Secure Enterprise IoT Devices
Controlling risks by enforcing stringent security standards and building secure infrastructures is more essential than ever as digital transformation forces operational technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) teams to be more independent. While data lost in a cyberattack can be recovered, disrupted production time can cost organizations millions.
Cybersecurity best practices for IoT security, within an organization, include:
Guard your Assets
Instead of balancing service contracts and warranties from numerous manufacturers who implemented IoT into their devices and products, IT administrators may now benefit from a single point of contact and streamlined administration.
The assets within a company, if properly managed, are crucial for growth and development.
The recommendation is to gain a unified, multi-dimensional view of every asset, including those that go unseen, unsecured, and undermanaged.
Set a Monitoring System
Implementing a strong IoT security framework can seem challenging in a complex ecosystem with numerous internal and external parties. Introducing a monitoring system allows proper asset inventory, visibility, identity, and control of interconnected devices. The approach must be comprehensive, and following NIST’s five-stage model is recommended:
Therefore, organizations should focus on
Establishing an all-encompassing IoT security framework that spans the ecosystem and integrating OT with traditional IT
Incorporating risks from people, processes, and governance as well as not only technology
Understanding the functions of the ecosystem's internal and external components by having a comprehensive view of the entire IoT estate
Enforcing standards with C-level engagement.
Encrypt your Connection
Hackers specifically target IoT endpoints and gateways. Any connected device can anticipate being attacked at some point in its lifetime. Encryption is a security best practice and applies to IoT use cases to encrypt data in transit from the device to back-end and at rest. Minimizing security risks is where cryptography comes in.
Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is an excellent method for securing client-server connections among various networked devices. PKI can facilitate the encryption and decryption of private messages and interactions using digital certificates by using a two-key asymmetric cryptosystem.
Actively monitor IoT devices
Each device in an IoT ecosystem requires an identity, By providing unique identities to all devices promotes trust within the ecosystem by facilitating mutual authentication between devices and systems, preventing spoofing or imposter devices, and safeguarding communications from eavesdropping or tampering.
Differentiate your product
The utilization and management of the enormous amount of new (and in many instances, sensitive) data that connected IoT products generate, are able to redefine relationships with traditional business partners and determine what role companies should play as industry boundaries are expanded, all present new strategic options. For example, multiple devices connect to many other types of products and also to external data sources, and therefore, connectivity serves a dual purpose.
Monitoring, control, optimization, and autonomy are the four categories that can be used to enable a new set of product functions and capabilities that intelligence and connection make possible. For instance, the foundation for product control, optimization, and autonomy is monitoring capabilities. An organization must define its competitive positioning by selecting the set of capabilities that deliver consumer value as well as establishing its competitive positioning.
Use Multi-Factor Authentication
IoT security is an area that is taken into consideration for protecting networked devices. The fundamental issue is that security is not taken into account when building the devices, and this could lead to a loss of data privacy. Every IoT device must have a unique identity to create a secure environment. This ensures proper authentication when a device connects to the internet, as well as dependable encrypted communication with other devices, applications, and services.
This is achieved with the help of multi-factor authentication (MFA). Users who are trying to connect to the IOT device should authenticate the device first and then only the connection to that device with a network is established successfully.
Multi-factor authentication adds a further layer of security in addition to a password, reducing risks for valuable applications, devices, and data. It is an authentication method that requires a user to present more than one verification type, an example being, a password along with an additional element in order to gain access to a system. Apart from authentication, all data is encrypted for gaining more security.
These "elements" of verification are often classified into three categories:
Knowledge-based: Things only the user knows, such as a password or a PIN;
Biometric: Things that are a part of a user, like fingerprints, retinas, or voice recognition; and
Possessions: Things that only the users have, such as a smart card or a phone.
MFA adds a layer of security on top of the possession factor. It's not enough to know something - you've also got to have something. Typically this is done via a smartphone. MFA makes it far more difficult to launch cyberattacks since many of the most common attack methods rely on bad actors gaining a user's credentials.
Adopt secure password practice
Organizations need to ensure that they change the default password on any devices that are connected to their network. The first step in securing IoT devices and protecting privacy is to create new credentials.
Organizations should provide strong passwords that are difficult for hackers to guess using dictionary attacks or any other passive internet attack in order to reduce the dangers associated with offline password cracking.
Keep usernames and passwords unique. To enhance additional security, a cybersecurity solution can generate a complex password automatically. Most password manager applications can generate random passwords and will allow the user to store them safely.
In order to protect IoT devices, password management is essential. The use of passwords for authentication, authorization, and configuration is one of the many challenges in IoT cybersecurity.
Continue to patch and update firmware
Firmware updates are vital in the lifecycle management of physical security IoT devices, especially when the devices have a long lifespan or are deployed in remote locations where manual intervention proves to be difficult, time-consuming and expensive.
This means that every time a manufacturer releases a vulnerability patch or software update, IoT devices must be updated. These updates eliminate vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit. A device may be more susceptible to attack if it doesn't have the most recent software.
Maintaining operational functionality, reducing cybersecurity risks, and removing compliance obstacles all require keeping IoT device firmware updated. Organizations increasingly rely on IoT devices to protect the physical security of their assets. If IoT devices are not updated, the consequences can be severe for the entire organization. Knowing which applications the network-connected IoT devices use and how many devices use them can be extremely useful information, particularly if there is a requirement to defend against a particular threat.
Smart, connected IoT devices ultimately can function with complete autonomy. However, human interaction is imperative in order to enhance security and monitor performance. Many cybersecurity incidents that have been featured in the headlines include IoT devices, implying that cybersecurity should be a top priority for both consumers and organizations.
Employing an IoT device identity solution provides complete visibility and security of all devices, data, and communication, enabling an organization to manage IoT device identities throughout their lifecycles while protecting them against cybersecurity threats.