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Protecting IoT Connected Devices Makes the Internet Safer

Protecting IoT Connected Devices Makes the Internet Safer

February 7th is Safer Internet Day. It is a campaign that highlights the importance of promoting and realizing a safer internet.

Here’s an interesting fact; there are nearly 5 billion active internet users worldwide. That’s just over 60% of the world's total population. But that number pales compared to the expected 15 billion IoT devices this year, and a projected 29 billion by 2030. IoT is everywhere, from monitoring the water and energy grid to the transportation and storage facilities we depend upon; and from healthcare facilities monitoring statistical patient values to our consumer devices, like smartphones, automobiles, and household appliances. 

IoT Devices are Significantly Increasing Cybersecurity Threat Surfaces 

As the number of IoT devices increases globally, so do their vulnerabilities. Internet of Things (IoT) devices are attack surfaces and vulnerable to network cyberthreats such as data theft, phishing, spoofing and denial of service attacks. Understanding and identifying the many threats and vulnerabilities from IoT connected devices can help organizations reduce their risk. 

As IoT devices are predominantly remote, updating software and firmware is an ongoing challenge. Many remain unmonitored and improperly managed. This lack of visibility into device status can prevent organizations from detecting or even responding to potential threats.

IoT security threats can range from simple password breaches to sophisticated attacks that exploit outdated hardware and software vulnerabilities. The increased use of IoT over cloud networks that store and analyze data is a growing potential for breaches due to a lack of encryption and access controls. Protecting against these attacks can be accomplished by adding identity controls and encrypting the data between IoT devices and cloud services.

A Growing Threat to Industrial Technologies 

There are many IoT devices located within industrial facilities running Operational Technology (OT) systems. For decades, IT and OT domains remained completely separate. But with the rise in digital transformation and broad utilization of the Internet, IT and OT environments are merging. 

This convergence increases the attack surface of interconnected IT and OT devices and systems, creating vulnerabilities that pose significant threats. These vulnerabilities create a danger to industrial manufacturers, oil and gas, transportation, water and waste management systems, food processing plants, electrical utilities, and other industrial facilities.

Industrial IoT (IIoT) has been fundamental in the revolution known as Industry 4.0, the next phase in the digitization of the manufacturing sector. IIoT heavy emphasis upon interconnectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data analytics is driving a new era of smart manufacturing innovations. The benefits must be balanced with increased vigilance to mitigate the increase threat landscape created by the implementation of these connected devices.

It’s Important to Review Device Security Limitations and Best Practices 

Before purchasing or deploying IoT devices, it’s important to understand their security limitations, as few manufacturers provide robust security measures. A new standardization requirement recently implemented for IoT may promote increased vendor adherence to the provision of greater security protocols.  

A lack of security best practices for these devices creates undo risk to the IoT ecosystem. However, with a proper identity management solution, organizations can easily create an identity-aware ecosystem that maps IoT devices with identities. This allows organizations to leverage identity to enforce access security with auditable data tracking. IoT device identity is a critical security component for securing the IoT ecosystem. Provisioning and managing device identities throughout their entire lifecycle helps protect against cybersecurity threats. 

IoT Devices Must be Secured with Identities from a Trusted Provider 

To ensure a secure ecosystem, every IoT device must have a unique identity. This will ensure proper authentication when a device comes online, and reliable encrypted communication between other devices, services, and applications.

By leveraging standards-based Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to authenticate and establish trust between IoT devices and cloud services, integrity can be ensured, with the source and encryption of all data transmitted within the ecosystem.

An IoT Identity Platform will provide a digital identity architecture that is purpose-built for IoT and IIoT deployments. This protects IoT devices, data and communications using encryption, authentication, and authorization. And because of the expansive nature of IoT, scalability is critical. The identity platform should be capable of issuing thousands of certificates per second and hundreds of millions of certificates every day.

Creating a Safer IoT Ecosystem on the Internet 

The highways we drive are not inherently safe. We can create greater safety by utilizing brakes, seatbelts, airbags, and various components of the auto’s safety system.  Similarly, the internet isn’t inherently safe, but the traffic that runs over it can be made safer by deploying comprehensive safety measures including encryption, unique device identities, multifactor authentication, regular patching and updates, and the adoption of  secure password practices.

GlobalSign provides complete IoT device identity lifecycle management, wherever and whenever the device is put into service.

Click here to learn more about how GlobalSign can help secure your IoT infrastructure. 

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