Infrastructure Management Services Security

Key Security Challenges of IoT

By: | Surya Matte

Publish Date: July 29, 2019

Access to data from millions of connected devices is what has brought in more and more organizations towards the IoT. The most common IoT deployments range from building automation systems and sensor networks to critical connected healthcare solutions, connected vehicles, and industrial robotics. These deployment scenarios can automate device management, improve efficiencies, and reduce operational costs while improving the customer experience.


As a result, an increasing number of enterprises are connecting to the Internet of Things (IoT); more and more endpoints are created. All those endpoints mean more attack points for hackers to target. Vulnerabilities are threatening to bring down trust in this connected world. As more devices are added, the security challenge grows. According to Gartner reports, around 26 billion IoT devices will be connected by 2020. This gives hackers 26 billion potential targets. These challenges differ from traditional cybersecurity as security challenges of real-time IoT networks can have far-reaching effects on security and safety.
Device Security: The nature of devices being connected form a significant part of the security challenge. These devices are always connected and periodically transmit data, and traditional security models prove to be a struggle. Each device should only do what it is intended to do so and should not offer scope for infiltration or reprogramming. And for this codes need to be protected through encryption or access control.
Communications Security: IoT communications usually spread over public and private networks, industrial networks or IT networks and hence securing network protocols is a key challenge. The sheer volume of the devices, together with their irregular communication patterns, can overwhelm many security tools. The need is to secure vast amounts of structured & unstructured data and also to support different types of connections and device architectures.
Cloud/Data Center Security: Insecure cloud and mobile interfaces are huge challenges as they most often use open-source libraries and technologies and securing them are very important. It becomes crucial to secure every data packet as there could be innumerable sources with different levels of security.
Computer attacks: These are the most common threat in a cloud environment and could vary from Denial of Service (D-DOS) attacks to malware spread in IoT devices, exploits, attacks on user’s privacy or modification of the electronic components of the device.
Software vulnerabilities: Another security challenge lies in the vulnerabilities of IoT applications and software which must be updated, analyzed, tested and configured correctly to prevent security problems, both in the platform and backend.
Authentication Security: Devices of different nature are connected to the Internet and collect user data in the cloud from the tool itself. A crucial task for security is to work in-depth on the authentication mechanisms to ensure the privacy of the user.
Data Privacy & Security: The IoT involves data collection, storage and analysis mechanisms to a greater scale. As more and more devices get connected, more elements require protection like the device itself, network, application or the platform that it uses. Also, the transmission of data by non-encrypted means presents a significant security problem.
Machine Phishing: Machine phishing will become a major security concern in the years ahead as hackers will increasingly try to infiltrate IoT and operational networks to send false signals that in turn may cause owners or plant operators to take actions that can be damaging.
Poor Legacy Security: Many IoT devices lack even the most basic cybersecurity protections, such as strong default passwords. They often leave many interconnected systems vulnerable because of which any system that gets hooked up with IoT devices could be hacked and manipulated with devastating consequences.
Looking ahead
The current security tools are unlikely to be appropriate for rapidly growing IoT networks. The need is for new suites of trust models, detection heuristics, adaptive remediation techniques, and tools. There should also be a significant change in threat detection response technologies and procedures so that organizations can remain informed at all times without being flooded by inconsequential alerts. From a regulatory perspective, an IoT network-specific risk and governance framework would also be required with specific policies and guidelines for IoT deployments. As IoT devices permeate more areas making sure security guidelines are followed will be most vital.

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