Safeguarding Networks: Security Risks and Solutions in Today’s IoT Landscape

Posted by on January 17, 2018 at 5:05 AM Carmi Brandis  
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In a few short years, IoT will go from new, cutting edge technology to the preferred standard for data collection. Just how widespread will IoT use actually become? Tech Republic reports that 90% of companies estimate an increase in their reliance on IoT in the near future. However, the new source also found that 77% of companies using IoT have experienced some form of security breach or increased network vulnerability. Clearly, expansion is outstripping security, meaning that IT teams must work overtime to shore up security gaps and find new strategies for hardening their networks against attack.

The Perfect Target: Why Hackers Love IoT

What makes IoT so vulnerable to outside interference and hacking? While all devices connected to the internet face a certain risk of attack, IoT devices often are rushed to market with less than stellar quality assurance testing of security. As TechTarget’s IoT Agenda notes, “…pressure to release new features and products as rapidly as possible may lead to design assumptions that set [the product] up for failure in the real world…” despite initial testing. Design assumptions place the burden of research and security testing very much on the shoulders of those that purchase IoT devices, meaning IT teams must be selective and cautious in device recommendations and purchases.

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What kind of data is most vulnerable on the Internet of Things? Just the simple accumulation of so much data in one location can act as an attractive endpoint to hackers everywhere, but healthcare data, government records, and trade secrets are particularly prized. Likewise, mobile networks increasingly are susceptible to attack.  

Ultimately, IoT security is a numbers game. The more devices a company connects to its network, the greater the chance of infiltration. Hackers see each of these devices as a potential gateway to the information they want, and they will probe for gaps wherever possible. The larger the IoT network, the more creative an IT team must become. Worse still, IoT can place emails, company databases, websites, and servers at risk if an organization’s business network is connected in any way to its main network. The inverse also is true, with email phishing and viruses potentially placing connected IoT devices in harm's way. For this reason, most IoT network providers recommend that businesses keep their primary internet connection separate from their IoT network.

Keeping Data Safe: Security Solutions for IoT

While ZDNet has described unsecured IoT vulnerability as a “ticking time bomb”, network managers are not without options for hardening their networks. The first step toward securing an IoT network is taking ownership of security and committing to placing network integrity first.  While exciting new technologies appear on the IoT market every day, it is worth testing out a device before adding it to your network. To this end, a variety of proven solutions exist and can be integrated into a network with little added expense to ensure safety against attack.

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Network encryption is perhaps the best option for curtailing hackers. Secured Socket Layers (SSLs) can be installed at login and data input points throughout the network to encrypt data transfer. And networks themselves can be layered with multipoint encryption to ensure data is unreadable to outsiders throughout the transmission process.

But security shouldn’t end with encryption. For instance, Forbes recommends multilayer authentication or use of biometrics and digital certificates for IoT network access. Likewise, Forbes recommends API security to “authenticate and authorize data movement between IoT devices, back-end systems, and applications using documented REST-based APIs”.

Staying on top of security threats by monitoring the latest threat reports from US Cert, the government’s watchdog for digital security threats, also can strengthen a team’s response to security threats by placing them ahead of the game and giving them enough lead time to harden IoT networks against the latest attacks. For IoT, US Cert recommends a variety of approaches, including strengthened passwords, regular network security audits, and staying current with manufacturers’ security patches for purchased devices.

Keeping Your Network Safe with Aeris

Aeris is committed to secure IoT networks that provide flexible and convenient access for end users without compromising data integrity. We practice competitive standards for network hardening and always are steps ahead of the curve in network security maintenance and monitoring. Committed to customer service, we will work closely with your team to establish reliable security standards that fit your network needs, recommend secure devices to add to your network, and help you maintain your network integrity.

Ready for a network that won’t compromise your company’s data? Contact us today!

 

Topics: IoT security, IoT solutions, device security, security by design