What is IoT Security
IoT security refers to the safeguarding of smart devices that are used to provide various services to users, customers, or clients. In addition to device security, some other types of security such as data security, network security, platform security, enterprise security, etc. are also provided in IoT. The different types or levels of security is required in IoT to prevent any kind of attack on smart devices or network.
The different types of security attacks that need to be addressed include Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), uncontrolled device, altered device operations, code injection, virus attacks and sudden surge in bandwidth requirement, etc.
In IoT, the devices communicate over a network by transferring information among themselves. The network or devices can be hacked to steal information or to take control of them.
IoT provides security at different levels which include:
- Device level security: Refers to securing the devices used in IoT
- Network level security: Refers to securing the network used for transferring information among the devices.
- Gateway-level security: Refers to securing the entry or exit points of information on a network.
- Storage/cloud/internet level security: Refers to securing the data collected or stored on the smart devices used in IoT
To have a robust and secure IoT system, strong security measures should be applied at each of these levels. To secure our IoT system, we must deploy the various security measures, tools, and technologies across these different operational stages and also revise them from time to time.
Securing a Device in IoT
Until now, nobody considered a security, a high priority, for IoT devices and networks. Attacks on IoT devices and networks can be very dangerous. They can take full control over the device and networks and may force them to operate in an insecure and harmful way.
Many of these IoT systems which were considered to be safe, unfortunately, are still vulnerable to attacks. For example, the installation of critical infrastructure devices and industrial automation devices is usually done inside the secure boundary of an enterprise network. But it is found that the perimeter can be easily penetrated or disabled.
In addition to this, it is also found that insider threats usually make up approximately 70% of cyber attacks, whether they are accidental or malicious.
It is necessary to secure IoT devices to avoid monetary or data loss. Before moving in the direction of securing these devices, you should first consider the challenges ahead. These challenges can be enlisted as follows:
- Critical functionality
- Long life cycle
- No upgradation
- Assumed security
- Proprietary/application-specific protocols
A security solution meant for these devices has to ensure that the firmware of the device has not been altered/tampered with. It must provide security to the data generated/stored by these devices. It must also secure all sorts of communication and must protect these devices from possible cyber attacks.
All this can be made possible only by the inclusion of security considerations in the early stages of the design phase. We can not have a single security solution that will be suitable for all kinds of devices.
The requirements of security must consider the following:
- The cost of failure due to lack of security. The cost may be economical, social environmental, etc.
- The risk of attacks
- The possible locations/points for attack
- The cost of implementing a security solution
Building in-built security features in the device itself provides a primary layer of security. These devices then no longer depend on the enterprise firewall for their security requirements. The other advantage of having in-built security is that it can be customized as per the device’s requirements.
There are certain security technologies like anti-malware, white-listing, encryption, system hardening, etc. which can be utilized individually or in combination as per the requirement. Security provisions must be included early in the design phase of a new device/system.
It requires specific hardware capabilities to detect firmware tampers as well as to have secure boot support. So this capability must also be taken into consideration in the early design phase.
Enterprise Security in IoT
As more and more devices get connected to the Internet, the risk associated with it also increases. As enterprises move towards more open and all-things-connected network architectures, like IoT, there arises a need to re-evaluate and re-design the enterprise security policies, permissions and procedures. Enterprises need to ensure that these connected devices and the corresponding data will not get affected or abused.
IoT is a technology that is evolving very fast and enterprises are required to put all the necessary security policies in place from the start. Implementation of necessary security policies should not be an afterthought. IoT may incorporate the possibility of major and very serious attacks on an uncontrolled and massive scale.
Architects of enterprise security need to rethink their strategies and plans as they begin to evaluate and use IoT-enabled devices.
As the enterprise wants to leverage the full benefits and advantages of these connected systems, it needs to open its infrastructure for more devices. It may introduce new vulnerabilities and impose high-security threats to enterprise security. The present scenario is that the tools to enable and manage the different phases of IoT security are considered immature.
Most of the time, it is also difficult for enterprises to know whether all of their devices are functioning properly on a network and have strong passwords.
Weak authentication, hardcoded credentials, and lack of data integrity often exist in the IoT world. There is also a possibility that some of the IoT devices may bypass the firewall settings and establish third-party connections.