Why You Need to Secure Your IoT Network in a Rapidly Expanding World Oct 25, 2018Views: 210
The Internet of Things is quickly becoming an integral part of the tech landscape, changing existing models for networks and allowing for innovations in various key industries. Undoubtedly, the rapid spread of IoT in both the public and private sectors is a net positive.
On one hand, it is a valuable source of data on a variety of things, from logistics to weather and transit patterns. On the other, IoT offers a degree of interconnectivity that permits networks to become smarter and better react to the environment they operate in.
However, no innovation is without flaws, and IoT is no exception to the rule. Although it solves some problems, the technology does have serious gaps in its design that still make it vulnerable to attacks and less secure than it could be.
This is a concern for IT departments in every industry, as these devices are usually connected to crucial aspects of a business’ tech infrastructure, and even the real world. The bigger problem with IoT devices is that they are not always considered a “must” for security, as they can range from temperature sensors to small components in car engines.
As these networks continue to grow, the strain on existing security measures and infrastructure will leave them increasingly vulnerable. When thinking of an IoT system, it is important to start your planning with security. More so, it is essential to find the right tools.
Strain and Vulnerabilities Lead to Catastrophe
Few people will argue that the IoT is bad, judging from the advances it has helped foster—from smart cities to innovations in medical technology. This drive for innovation has also led to an explosion in demand and devices that populate today’s IoT networks. As with most rapidly growing technologies, though, this scaling has come with a unique set of security problems.
For one, the growing number of devices that are being connected to the internet is astounding. In 2015 alone, there were 15 billion IoT devices active, with 20 billion expected in 2020. Relevant gadgets range from cell phones and other big-ticket technology to much simpler chips that operate smart refrigerators or wireless speakers. It is hard to create a universal set of security standards across such a broad range of devices, and especially when there are so many going online every minute.
Businesses that prize their security are hard-pressed to deal with the constant security problems that so many access points creates. In 2017, a North American casino became an object of internet curiosity after it was revealed that its network was breached by hackers who attacked a smart fish tank. This extreme case is also far from the only one. At the enterprise level, a similar hack could result in millions of dollars’ worth of losses, as well as serious legal ramifications.
On their own, smaller IoT devices may not be dangerous. A temperature sensor or ventilation system uses rudimentary technology, but they become risky when networked. Their simplicity also means that the security they use is basic, leaving networks exposed. It is also not a problem that is easily solved as including complex security in these simple devices would increase costs and create design problems.
How to Patch Up the IoT
While these problems may seem insurmountable, they are rarely so. It is true that many IoT devices cannot have complex security measures, but they can still be defended against a variety of attacks. The most important method for protecting an IoT network is to stay ahead of the curve. Implementing proactive systems that can detect and close vulnerabilities before they are exploited are essential.
One fundamental area where these systems help is in automated patch management. Patch management might seem like an easy task, but to an IT staff with large numbers of endpoints to manage, it could be an overwhelming burden when done manually. Cloud Management Suite, for instance, is a tool that scan for the most recent patches to security issues and ensure that they are always installed in every endpoint. Such a tool might have helped Equifax to avoid their data-breach.
Another key tool harnessed by security teams is to segment networks behind secure gateways. While it may seem counter to the idea of open IoT networks, creating proper gates that ensure the right information can move through nodes helps reduce the likelihood an attack could make it through undetected. For instance, a smart TV hack would not be allowed to pass through a gateway to systems-critical devices.
A Stronger and More Secure Network
It is only logical to jump on the IoT bandwagon, but that does not mean IT specialists should disregard the real issues attached to the technology. To ensure that your network is not just functional but also secure, it is crucial to have the right tools and security policies in place to avoid leaving gaps, which could compromise more than your network.
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