Security is a well-placed concern for businesses that use the Internet of Things to connect devices and transmit data via the cloud. Because the IoT is a relatively new technology, its associated security concerns haven’t been examined to the third degree, and experts have yet to come to an agreement on a standardized security protocol for IoT networks. Implementation of the IoT is different for each business, as is the level of sensitive data that needs protection.
Of course, it’s necessary to safeguard your sensitive data and share it only with internal users who need access to it. The problem is identifying what data is sensitive, because the IoT enables transmission of massive amounts of data on a constant basis, which can be a lot to handle.
What’s the Silver Bullet?
A prevalent thought is that two and a half decades of evolving security measures are easily applicable to the relatively new IoT technology and its security concerns. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, as IoT devices are often constructed to be compact, cheap and easily disposable. The individual hardware isn’t often conducive to software updates, and companies aren’t likely to replace an entire fleet’s worth of devices for the sake of an update.
Another issue is that there’s no consensus on what security problems IoT technology faces. No two IoT implementations are alike, as every company has its own unique set of data needs and challenges. As such, IoT security needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Identify your own security risks and concerns.
While it’s not easy to implement IoT security precisely because there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, it’s no less necessary. The Internet of Things opens doors everywhere, with smart technology infiltrating homes, businesses and workplaces to make life and day-to-day operations simpler and more efficient. Security is an important consideration anywhere there’s a network.
At the same time, the world’s estimated to have as many as 50 billion IoT-connected devices online by 2020. This is a massive amount of data transmission, and with data transmission there’s always the risk of interception.
Identifying and Mitigating Risk
Consider your implementation of IoT and how it opens you up to security concerns. While failing to encrypt data regarding your facilities’ refrigerator temperatures is not likely to cause problems, sharing your fleet’s geolocational data could pose a security risk. Is the data innocuous or sensitive in nature? It’s not necessarily important to safeguard every bit of data that your devices transmit, and you should pick and choose your security battles.
If you use the IoT to transmit data from an automatic locking door that allows only personnel with authorization to enter, then you should consider implementing security measures to prevent outside individuals from gaining control of the smart door system. In 2015
, ethical hackers and security software experts hacked an IoT-capable smart Jeep Cherokee remotely, allowing them to take full control of the vehicle from home. The experts took control of all the Cherokee’s major systems, including the automobile’s brakes, acceleration, and even the windshield wipers and air conditioning.
Obviously, a hacked vehicle is a huge cause for concern, as is a hacked door security system. Better internet security surrounding cloud-connected devices can mitigate this risk.
However, if you’re transmitting data from a non-sensitive source that poses no security risk, then additional security measures may be unnecessary at first glance. For instance, an IoT-connected lighting system that transmits energy usage data doesn’t seem like an immediate cause for concern. What can a hacker do with information about how much energy your office’s lighting uses?
Surprisingly, even such an innocuous system is susceptible to hacking that can leave your business at risk. In 2014, ethical hackers discovered an exploit that lets users obtain Wi-Fi passwords for the network used to connect smart lightbulbs to the IoT. The lightbulbs in question utilized standard AES encryption to protect the Wi-Fi password, but the pre-shared key used to connect stayed the same, letting intruders force-decipher the password from as close as 30 meters away.
Does the IoT Introduce Risk Itself?
Some devices are truly unlikely to be victims of hacking, such as devices that are connected to an internal network that’s already highly secured, or devices that don’t have a sophisticated connection in the first place. Medical devices, for example, are unlikely to be subject to the same security concerns as many other smart devices. It’s important to weigh the level of risk when determining your approach toward IoT security measures—not all devices and networks require additional security measures.
However, the vast majority of devices do introduce some level of risk by nature of being a hackable device that’s connected to a network that handles sensitive business data transmission. In order to securely connect with IoT-driven devices, it’s important to use authentication keys that ensure that all users are authorized to access the data stream. Such keys can require significant amounts of coding to set up each time you need access to your data; conversely, a solution like the ThingLogix Foundry platform can configure authentication tokens for authorized users on demand.
When considering an IoT solution, security is an important and justifiable concern. That’s why it’s important to incorporate technology and customized consulting that prioritizes helping you develop a secure and sophisticated system that meets your business needs.