IoT Security: How to Protect Your Devices
Cybersecurity is on every business owner’s mind as they work to keep their organization safe. And many owners and managers have been stepping up their security game recently—whether by setting up a secure VPN for remote workers or running a penetration test on a firewall, companies are doing what they can to avoid becoming another data breach statistic. One area that organizations shouldn’t forget about when focusing more on cybersecurity, is the Internet of Things. In this article, we are going to explain what the Internet of Things is, why it matters, and how you can make sure your company is protected. Let’s get started!
What is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is defined as a network of physical devices that connect to the internet using sensors, software, and other technologies. These devices collect and share data electronically, which allows them to communicate in real-time without any involvement from a human being. This digital intelligence results in incredibly responsive devices that practically operate on their own. And these types of devices are actually all around us. IoT devices include thermostats, wearable fitness trackers, smart locks, lightbulbs, doorbell cameras—the list goes on. Even Amazon Echo and Google Home devices fall under the IoT umbrella.
As you can see, these devices are incredibly common and found in almost every home. And they’re also found in most, if not all, businesses. In fact, IoT devices have created entirely new businesses and revenue streams. They’re extremely important in many organizations’ operations, but along with the ability to innovate and increase efficiency, IoT devices also open up risks for a company’s information to be compromised. These devices are collecting and transmitting so much data, and a lot of it is sensitive data, so the possibility of the wrong person getting access to this data is something every business owner should be worried about. But, the good news is that there are ways to secure IoT devices and keep your network and organization safe.
What is IoT security?
IoT security includes a variety of techniques, strategies, and protocols that all work to patch up any IoT vulnerabilities and mitigate the increased risk these devices pose. Let’s walk through some of the protocols that business owners can use to improve their IoT security measures and keep their data safe.
IoT Security Best Practices
PKI and Digital Certificates
A public key infrastructure (PKI) is a set of roles, policies, hardware, software, and procedures needed to create, manage, distribute, use, store, and revoke digital certificates and manage public-key encryption. PKI can be used to secure connections between multiple networked devices, such as the various IoT devices that are all connected to the internet. PKI is already set up in every web browser in use today because of its ability to secure traffic across the public internet. But organizations can also use it to secure their internal communications through connected devices. It’s a great way to keep your information private and contained within your organization.
Because IoT devices are all connected to a business’s network, they provide ample opportunities for hackers to use a single IoT device as a gateway to access the entirety of the network. Also, hackers who have found a way inside of a network can remotely control all of the connected IoT devices. That’s why businesses need to make sure their network and all of their devices are secure. This includes ensuring port security by disabling port forwarding and never opening ports when it’s not needed. Further, make sure anti-malware, firewalls, and intrusion detection and prevention systems have been installed and are up-to-date. And, block unauthorized IP addresses. These steps and software will work to patch holes that cybercriminals could use to get into your network through your IoT devices or access them.
The next IoT security tip is to apply network segmentation. Network segmentation divides a network into two or more subsections to allow greater control over traffic between devices and workloads. Without segmentation, all IoT devices will be communicating directly with the network and each other. Then, if one device is compromised, it’s much easier for any sort of malware to spread across the entire network. However, with segmentation, businesses can separate IoT devices, meaning even if one device gets hacked, it doesn’t open the door to the entire network, including valuable business data and assets. Organizations will need to use virtual local area network (VLAN) configurations and a next-generation firewall to implement network segmentation.
Employ Device Discovery
One important—but overlooked—practice for improving IoT security is to get visibility into the exact number of IoT devices connected to a network. You can employ all of the IoT security protocols available, but if you’re missing a device, there’s still going to be a hole in your defense system. So, keep a detailed, up-to-date inventory of every single IoT device connected to your network. Include information on the manufacturer, model ID, serial number, hardware, software, firmware versions, really any information you can find. You can use this information to discover a risk profile for each device and list any IoT security solutions you are using. This will just keep you organized and ensure that you aren’t missing any important components in your IoT cybersecurity plan.
Actively Monitor IoT Devices
Last but not least, it’s important for organizations to actively monitor all of their IoT devices. Real-time monitoring, reporting, and alerting allow organizations to move quickly if a device is compromised and stop hackers from gaining access to the entire network.
IoT devices are extremely beneficial to an organization as they allow innovation and efficiency, but they also create risks if not monitored and secured properly. If you haven’t been paying specific attention to your business’s IoT security, now’s the time to start. One compromised device could give hackers access to your entire network.