The Internet of Things (IoT) is a vast network of interconnected physical devices that exchange data via the internet. These devices could be small, with sensors to perform numerous tasks in manufacturing units, factories, and enterprises without human intervention. Despite the numerous advantages that IoT offers, it also carries certain risks and vulnerabilities. To ensure the safety of your IoT devices, here's what you need to know.
Why secure IoT devices?
The demand for IoT devices and application development is reaching its peak globally. According to the Allied Market Research report, the global IoT market size was US$ 740.47 billion in 2020 and will reach US$ 4,421.62 billion by 2030. Given the growth potential of this stream, enterprises need to create robust mechanisms to protect IoT devices against attacks.
Most critical IoT security challenges
Before diving into the 'how' of securing IoT devices, let us explore the various security challenges enterprises face.
Outdated software and firmware: While new flaws or bugs frequently emerge in the market, IoT software and firmware do not get patched with the same frequency. Attackers often exploit these vulnerabilities to compromise enterprise networks and systems. Thus, IoT vendors must ship devices with up-to-date software and firmware. They should also send online updates if any new patch gets released.
Massive attack surface: The attack surface of IoT devices increases with every new connection. The increase in attack surface brings new opportunities for cybercriminals to identify and exploit vulnerabilities.
Inadequate access control: IoT services should remain accessible to owners and trustworthy employees. However, most IoT devices remain insecure with poor access control. Authentication in IoT remains inadequately enforced, and physical security also lacks proper protection.
Lack of standard encryption: When multiple devices send data in plain text or through weak encryption algorithms, a Man-in-the-Middle (MiTM) attack can obtain the data, password, or other information. Cybercriminals can easily extract information and login credentials by analyzing the endpoint's network traffic.
Insufficient privacy protection: Enterprise systems and manufacturing units that leverage IoT devices often hold consumer data and video or audio recordings of various locations. If an attacker compromises a single IoT device, they can access all other devices connected to the network and steal those recording or personal details about customers and employees.
There are also many other challenges to IoT security, such as insufficient physical security, intrusion ignorance, supply chain attacks, use of untrusted APIs, and open-source codes.
Securing IoT devices
Here are some security best practices:
Employ device discovery: Before implementing encryption and endpoint security solutions to protect IoT devices, it is essential for security professionals to determine the exact number of such devices. Such visibility will help enterprises get a clear idea of how many IoT devices and assets are connected to the network. To check for updated firmware and IoT software, security professionals should collect manufacturers' detail, vendors' names, model IDs, serial numbers, and firmware versions, among others.
Apply network segmentation: Since IoT systems have a vast attack surface, security professionals segregate the entire IoT network into subdivisions. It enables strict granular control over the complete IoT network. Such segmentation helps security professionals detect lateral movement attacks between devices and workloads. Segmenting the network reduces the damage caused by cybercriminals and helps security professionals get a detailed insight into which IoT devices are unpatched or exposed to cyber threats.
Active monitoring of IoT devices: Security professionals should also deploy tools for real-time monitoring, notifying, and reporting critical incidents and threats within the IoT network. Traditional endpoint security solutions do not feature automated incident monitoring. Thus, enterprises should deploy the latest real-time solutions that can automatically and instantly alert the security professional about any breach.
Physical security: IoT devices often remain open in the public space within the enterprise or manufacturing units. It can cause a physical breach. Anyone with technical knowledge can interfere with the communication or steal sensitive information traversing within the connected endpoints. Thus, enterprises should maintain physical security for IoT devices.
Secure password and robust encryption practices: Poor passwords and encryption can enable cybercriminals to gain access to IoT device networks. Numerous IoT devices come with preset passwords that are available online. Thus, enterprises should reset passwords and implement robust encryption algorithms to improve overall IoT security.
IoT security is a sensitive vertical in the overall security posture for enterprises and other businesses. Cybercriminals are developing sophisticated techniques and approaches to exploit IoT devices. To secure the connected network, organizations need to deploy a comprehensive set of solutions that can detect suspicious activities in real-time, monitor endpoints and devices, and perform patch management. Effective password policies and robust encryption practices will also help enterprises maintain higher levels of security for their connected networks.