The introduction of IoT networks has dramatically boosted the connectivity and output of many organizations.
This boost has caused an explosion in IoT devices, and IoT networks have become widespread across many business ecosystems. Coupled with the transition into industry 4.0, we can only expect this trend to continue, as the success of an industry 4.0 transition relies on the use of IoT devices and networks. The benefits of IoT adoption are clear. However we must not rush into widespread adoption without considering the security ramifications.
Unfortunately, IoT security solutions lag behind the adoption of IoT as a whole. This lag leaves a significant gap for attackers to take advantage of your IoT network.
This article will take you through some of the best IoT security solutions for your business.
What Are IoT Security Solutions
“IoT security solutions” is the umbrella term for all processes, software, and policies that protect an organization’s IoT network. The IoT network will comprise part of the organization’s infrastructure. Therefore, the IoT network’s security will build upon the existing cybersecurity architecture, and you should treat it holistically.
The elements of IoT security solutions can fall under two main categories:
- Organizational Safeguards
- Technical Safeguards
In the coming sections, we will expand on these two IoT security aspects and give you more detail on their implementation.
How Does It Differ From Traditional Cybersecurity Solutions?
IoT security doesn’t differ that much from traditional cybersecurity solutions. The methods remain widely the same; it is just that they are applied to a more complex network, requiring more attention to detail.
The nature of an IoT network means many different devices are communicating with each other simultaneously. Each device also has a unique identifier and a unique mode of operation, so generally, a one-size-fits-all seldom works.
However, some techniques translate well into the IoT infrastructure that we will discuss now.
IoT Organizational Safeguards
As mentioned in the introductory section, there are two aspects to IoT security, and the first is organizational safeguarding. Generally speaking, all means of cybersecurity split into these two camps, and IoT security is no different.
Organizational safeguards are a means of security that are not strictly related to the application of technology. Some example of administrative safeguards are:
- Security Policies
- Risk Management Frameworks
- Staff Awareness Training
- Process Management
- Infrastructure Management
These means usually work toward improving the overall IT infrastructure security. The effects of these safeguards are not seen in the short-term but typically have lasting effects.
Let’s explore some IoT organizational safeguards.
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IoT Device Management Policy
This IoT security solution will require the organization to develop an IoT device inventory. Knowing all the types of IoT devices granted access to the organizational network makes it easier to discern where attacks come from and how to stop them.
Moreover, the organization can designate which IoT devices are safe to use and which are not. Typically IoT devices and the IoT network will not be provided or hosted by the organization. The organization will have to rely on third-party providers, which comes with security risks.
Some IoT device operators will make security a priority, and some will not. Big-name brands and those with a good reputation are often a good indication of the security level, but it should not be the sole defining factor.
It is up to your organization to develop a policy on green-listed and blacklisted IoT devices. The policy will depend on whether the IoT device falls within the organization’s security parameters.
The next organizational safeguard on the list is penetration testing. The complexity of IoT networks requires consistent pen-testing.
Although pen-testing does involve a degree of technical application, generally speaking, the whole process is used to test the overall organizational security resilience hence falling under the administrative safeguards category.
Penetration testing is a method of security that “prods” the system to expose any vulnerabilities. Its application is widespread in the cybersecurity community, from infrastructure pen-testing to cloud pen-testing.
IoT device pen-testing works in a similar way to traditional penetration testing but has some key differences.
- IoT devices connect to a wide array of networks like the internet, 3G, 4G, LTE, Wi-Fi, and more.
- IoT devices and networks host many applications, both local and web-based. These apps also have complex APIs that interface with the device.
- IoT hardware is mostly mobile, so the chipsets and other components require different security configurations than traditional hardware.
Once you have a grasp of the subtle differences, IoT device pen-testing becomes much more straightforward.
Application Management and Policy
Following pen-test results, it will become evident what problems the IoT devices and network are experiencing. From the results, your organization can develop an “app security program.” This program should test the security resilience of any applications installed on authorized IoT devices.
This factor is crucial if you create IoT devices or develop apps that can interface with IoT devices. Attackers widely exploit Unsecure apps, and they remain a vulnerability even if the device is of sound security.
Like the IoT device management policy, create a list of authorized and unauthorized apps as a safeguarding form.
Threat Analysis and Vulnerability Management
The final organizational safeguard on the list is threat analysis and vulnerability management. This process involves assessing and keeping updated on the IoT threat landscape, also known as threat intelligence.
Many forums, communities, and organizations keep businesses updated on the latest threats; all it takes is subscribing or joining the community. If you are interested in more premium or tailored options, many firms will offer this as part of their managed security service.
Whichever option you chose, ensure that threat intelligence is part of your IoT security retinue.
The second part of this organizational safeguard is vulnerability management. Threat analysis and vulnerability management go well together grouped into one solution.
Threats will exploit your information system’s vulnerabilities, and IoT networks will make up part of that system, so it is vital to keep on top of any vulnerabilities that have been exposed or reported.
For more in-depth information on IoT vulnerability management, check out this post on our blog.
That wraps up the first section on organizational safeguards; in the next section, we will examine the technical safeguards and how your organization can apply them to their IoT networks.
IoT Technical Safeguards
Technical safeguards will comprise all security mechanisms that come in software solutions or require technological implementation.
Some example of technical safeguards used in day-to-day security are:
- Security Incidence and Events Management (SIEM)
You will see later on that “traditional” technical safeguards are also employed in IoT security.
They differ from organizational safeguards because they generally don’t involve any people or process and can be used or installed like any out-of-the-box product.
Do keep in mind that some may require some form of maintenance or management.
IoT Network Security
The IoT network will consist of the organizational intranet and internet connectivity. All the devices that appear on the web will need to communicate with the business information system.
You are open to attack if not appropriately secured. Thankfully, as mentioned in the introduction to technical safeguards, many traditional network security applications are also useful for IoT.
For example, firewalls can be customized and tailored to grant access to authorized devices and block unauthorized ones. The same goes for anti-virus. Many big-name anti-virus providers expand their services to cover mobile devices in response to the increased cyber attacks that stem from IoT networks.
You should always consider the options before making any purchase as IoT networks, especially business ones, can be complicated and might require bespoke solutions.
IoT PKI Encryption
The second technical safeguard is public-key infrastructure (PKI). PKI is a type of encryption method. Most of the internet is encrypted using this method, known as digital certificates (you will notice a website is using it if you see HTTPS instead of HTTP). Your organization can translate the basics of PKI to your IoT network.
Certifying authorities, in this case, a third-party PKI provider, will manage the standards and policies that dictate whether authorized devices will receive a digital certificate.
With the digital certificate, they will be allowed to use the network freely, and it will mitigate the risk of attacks occurring through the authorized devices.
Multi-factor Authentication For IoT Devices
Multi-factor authentication is commonplace nowadays in many business information systems. Password management tools and system login details will often employ multi-factor authentication to ensure that the user accessing the system is genuine.
The same technique is available to IoT networks and devices. IoT MFA works in a similar way where an authenticator, either a user or administrative software, will verify any device trying to connect with the network.
Some standard MFA techniques are:
- Biometric data: using this unique identifier, the system can recognize the IoT device as genuine and coming from an authorized user.
- Random Key Generator: this type of authentication requires the user to input a series of randomly generated numbers accessible through a secured app that only the user can see. After the user has inputted the randomly generated number, the device can access the network.
- Digital Certificates: digital certificates are part of the PKI infrastructure referenced in the previous section. This technique is a type of two-factor authentication where a third-party authority verifies the device.
However, multi-factor authentication will require more than one method. Otherwise, it would only be two-factor authentication, which is still better than no authentication.
But two-factor authentication is starting to show its age, with hackers bypassing things like SMS authentication. In which case, multi-factor authentication proves to be more secure simply by adding extra layers to the process.
The final technical safeguard on this list is encryption. Encryption is essential in IoT networks. Devices are continually sending and receiving communication, and it is elementary for attackers to intercept messages in transit on unsecured protocols.
You will see many mobile messaging apps using end-to-end encryption; for example, the device encrypts the plain text messages on both sides. Messaging apps like Whatsapp, Signal, Telegram, and Viber use this type of encryption.
Although this is not the only type of encryption that is valid for IoT devices, some other types of encryption that you use for your IoT network are:
- Elliptic Curve
Some devices will respond better to specific encryption techniques; this will depend on the operating system and the device’s purpose.
Conclusions and Recap
The IoT boom is not looking to slow down anytime soon. The rush to advance to industry 4.0 leaves little room for security-conscious development in the IoT sphere. But this will cripple your business down the line.
There is a golden opportunity to create a secure IoT ecosystem for your organization, and it starts with IoT security solutions.
This article discussed the two main spheres under which IoT security solutions lie:
- Organizational Safeguards: all the security measures that involve protecting people and business process
- Security Policies
- Management Policies
- Penetration Testing
- Technical Safeguards: all the security measures that involve the direct application of technologies or software solutions
- Network security
- IoT PKI infrastructure
- Data encryption
Let RSI Security help you with all your security needs. Are you struggling to find the best IoT security solution for your organization? Or do you need dedicated managed security services so that you can go back to doing what your business does best. Then get in contact with us today and schedule a consultation.