What is IoT Security?
With the widespread adoption of the Internet of Things, otherwise known as IoT, the number of IoT devices being connected is rising. By 2020, Cisco estimates that there will be 50 to 200 billion connected devices worldwide and research firm IDC estimates $1.7 trillion in spending on IoT devices. Because IoT is becoming such a large and fast-growing economy, it’s important to consider IoT security as an integrated component of both devices and IoT platforms.
We’ll answer these important questions:
- What is IoT security?
- Why do you need IoT security?
- What can go wrong with IoT security?
- How do you successfully embed IoT security processes into your IoT solution?
- How does Greenwave’s AXON Platform provide IoT security?
What is IoT Security?
IoT security is the practice of eradicating vulnerabilities in IoT devices and equipping them with the means to detect, resist and recover from malicious attacks. Implementing security into your IoT solution involves four steps:
Think of the IoT process from a security-first point of view.
What needs to be protected, from whom and for whom? Doing so helps you to identify the risks to your operations-critical data at any point along the end-to-end process.
Consider how well each vendor engineered their product.
For example, are product access controls (like login) sufficient and properly implemented? Does product development safeguard against backdoors and poor practices? Does product operation detect and recover from attacks?
Prevent backdoor insertion during product development or deployment by implementing best practices for code review, code logging and operations monitoring.
Ensuring product security is about a lot more than what version of Transport Layer Security (TLS) is used or the length of cryptographic keys. Product security depends on secure product development processes, and both depend on zealous adherence to engineering and operational best practices.
Implement clear security policies and rules to follow in hardware, software and protocols.
These policies must extend across the IoT service to each user app, data center server, network gateway or IoT device depending on the policy. If any part of the service handles secrets improperly or lacks proper access controls, for example, the security of the entire service is compromised.
Why Do You Need IoT Security?
The rise of computers, servers, and networks brought about decades of viruses, hacks, and attacks. As individuals and organizations look for interoperate IoT-enabled devices into their homes, systems, and processes, malicious players are already looking for ways to exploit any vulnerabilities that can be found in the Internet of Things. For instance, almost a thousand CCTV cameras distributed worldwide were found to be enslaved to an IoT botnet for launching DDoS attacks. Social media feeds often reveal the latest horror story of a hacked, vulnerability-laden baby monitor. Such examples show how simple it is for hackers to take advantage of unsecured IoT devices today. As IoT becomes quickly and widely adopted, the industry’s main concern should be that the rise of IoT should not be outpaced by a rise in security risk.
What Can Go Wrong with IoT Security?
As previously mentioned, the vulnerabilities found in IoT are often exploited from unsecured or improperly secured devices and services. Such a vulnerability can be found at any point in an end-to-end IoT service. That means the data that must travel between apps, data centers, gateways and devices can be attacked at any of those points or exposed along the way. This is why it’s important to require strong security and process assurance in IoT products used. Strong IoT security can be considered as a system that can detect, resist, and recover from vulnerability attacks.
How to Successfully Embed IoT Security Processes Into Your IoT Solution
You know what IoT security is — but now what? Integrating IoT security processes into your organization’s solution relies on cultivating four processes of specifying, designing, implementing, and operating product security features. These four processes are interdependent on each other to provide a holistic security user experience.
Design IoT security into your product’s functionality.
IoT product security depends on appropriate and user-friendly access controls for IoT requests, responses, notifications, telemetry data, personal identifying information and other critical assets. The type of controls that are needed in any part of an IoT service must be predetermined by security analysis at the commencement of product development and evaluated by security audits during the process. Thus, good product security builds on secure product design and implementation for user login, IoT device introduction and administration. These practices must be built into the product-development lifecycle and cannot be tacked on in the final stages prior to release.
Integrate an auditable IoT security mindset into your product development process.
Security-aware product development starts with a well-documented and auditable development process, which extends through to operations, update and eventual retirement. The process includes analysis of the physical and information assets that the product handles, the risks to those assets and the threats that may realize the risks. An auditable process is needed. Compliance with secure product development benchmarks and coding standards (such as CERT C, ISO 27034, ISO 27001, or the NIST Cybersecurity Framework) are worthwhile goals. At the very least, an analysis of the gaps between requirements and capabilities using one or more benchmarks is critically important for IoT service development. Even the best development process and product security features have vulnerabilities, however, and effective operations monitoring is needed to detect attacks and recover from them.
Implement IoT security processes in your company operations.
Security operations encompass the obvious things (such as password or credential refresh) as well as the extraordinary (like premeditated compromise of software or hardware). An IoT service also needs a security incident response plan (such as a CSIRT Plan) and intrusion detection. Given the critical nature of IoT services in arenas like transportation and health, more security attention is justified. Effective security operations stem problems that can arise from interdependencies, such as the linkage between the product-development build system and the business IT system.
Conduct an ongoing security review of your business IT infrastructure.
The organization that releases and maintains a product, IoT or otherwise, usually needs to maintain web services, email, document systems, wikis, build systems, firmware updates and business systems. Each such service is a potential opening for a direct attack on the organization’s IT and an indirect attack on the products that the organization deploys. The interfaces among the organization’s business, product development and operations are critical dependencies where weaknesses in one complex system provide a gateway to another. Business IT security is therefore fundamental.
IoT Security with Greenwave’s AXON Platform
A secure IoT platform, Greenwave’s AXON Platform acts as an on-ramp for new IoT devices and services, empowering our partners to create, deploy and maintain innovative revenue-generating applications with speed and certainty. Our IoT platform enables operators around the world to monetize their networks quickly for the connected future, reduce complexity, and simultaneously address security, flexibility and scale.