The Evolving Approach to IoT Security

The internet of things (IoT) brings has opened new horizons, from smart-city advancements to transforming how industries produce goods. For example, by connecting assets in a factory, manufacturers can have better insight into the health of their machinery and predict any major problems with their hardware before it happens, allowing them to stay one step ahead of their systems and keep costly outages to a minimum.

But, despite its life-enhancing and cost-saving benefits, IoT has proven to be a minefield to secure.

There are several reasons why. First and foremost is a general lack of awareness among consumers and businesses. The convenience and cost-saving benefits of IoT tech appear to outweigh the potential risks.

Another challenge is securing not just the IoT devices but also the networks over which their data is transferred. IoT devices increase the amount of entry points into a home or business network, which in turn could give hackers access to devices such as computers that contain sensitive data.

Eventually we could see almost every home device connected to the internet, not necessarily with any consumer benefit but instead geared toward data collection. And IoT sensors increasingly are being used by businesses of all sizes across numerous industries including health care and manufacturing. This setup can be incredibly valuable for businesses, but is also highly susceptible to penetration by hackers.

In the past, businesses haven’t always focused on building end-to-end security into the network. This is set to change as attitudes evolve. In fact, thanks to emerging tech platforms, the industry is developing new ways to protect IoT devices from increasingly sophisticated hackers and there will be significant opportunities for those working in the IoT security space.

Let’s look at the impact of some emerging platforms on the security space:

Using blockchain technology can reduce the risk of IoT devices being put at risk by a security breach at a single point. By getting rid of a central authority in IoT networks, blockchain would enable device networks to validate and protect themselves. For example, devices in a common group could stop or alert the user if asked to carry out tasks that appear unusual, such as being commandeered by hackers to carry out distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

Artificial intelligence can help to speed up the process of identifying potential risks. AI is set to be so integral to cybersecurity in the future that it is estimated that the global AI security market will reach $18.2 billion by 2023, according to a recent report.

Meanwhile, just as new technology platforms have opened doors for hackers, new security platforms are being developed to combat the threat. Interactive visual walls, dashboard displays, 3D object recognition and a virtual reality experience provide a glimpse of the security capabilities that can help organizations build and monitor cybersecurity platforms, as suited to their business needs.

Be Ready for Anything

At this point, security breaches have become almost inevitable, rather than something that can be completely avoided. Without adequate security, even innocuous items that generally pose no threat can be transformed into something far more sinister—for example, traffic lights that tell cars and pedestrians to go at the same time.

As a result, it’s important that organizations take time to think about how they can work together to create an end-to-end infrastructure that can deal with the influx of new devices. With this increased threat, the focus is shifting from prevention to resilience.

Education is key and makers of IoT devices, ISPs and the government all must play a vital role in boosting awareness of IoT security among consumers and businesses. At a government level, it also may be necessary to provide education to boost the digital literacy of policymakers. More regulation and standardization are needed to ensure that IoT devices adhere to a certain level of security, while manufacturers must develop clear privacy policies for their IoT devices and ensure that consumers know how to adjust the security settings. Even simple steps such as not setting default passcodes as “0000” or “1234” could help keep devices more secure in the future.

Businesses must talk openly about vulnerabilities, promoting awareness and accountability. Resources that are currently focused on prevention need to be redeployed toward the timely detection of and response to potential security hacks.

The best way to approach this is a layered security solution. That means security at the device level, over the air and once it gets to the network. This approach can secure the end device, over the air like a VPN, the pipe between a device and the network and once it gets onto the network.

With emerging technological platforms such as cloud computing and IoT offering more gateways to hackers, it is now more critical than ever for companies to institute holistic security platforms to deal with these threats. Only with everyone working together toward a common goal will the new technology platforms that have the power to improve our lives be used only to do good.

Srinivasan CR

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Srinivasan CR

Srinivasan CR is the Chief Digital Officer for Tata Communications. In this role, Srini is responsible for the overall digital and security strategy and execution for Tata Communications – a global digital infrastructure provider to large enterprises globally. A technologist and a business leader, Srini is also the Global business head for cloud and Security businesses at Tata Communications enabling digital transformation initiatives for customers. Srini’s experience spans over 25 years in enabling business technology solutions. He has worked in large enterprises, co-founded a start-up, custom- created new platform based solutions and leveraged technology to help build sharper customer experiences and differentiated business models.

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