The Evolution of IoT in the Age of Cybersecurity

Whether or not you’ve heard the term Internet of Things (IoT), you’ve probably experienced it. Maybe you use your smartphone to turn your heat up before you get home from work, or your fridge tells you when you’re low on milk. And then there are the self-driving cars that will likely be the norm in a few decades. While this technology makes life easier in so many ways, it comes with its challenges, particularly when it comes to cybersecurity. Let’s look at how IoT evolved and how cybersecurity addresses its risks.

What Is IoT?

IoT was born when we linked an everyday physical object to the internet. This happened in the early 1980s when a graduate student in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University connected a vending machine to a primitive form of the Internet. Then, in 1990, John Romkey connected a toaster to the internet. Despite these achievements, the phrase “Internet of Things” wasn’t coined until 1999 by computer scientist Kevin Ashton.

Fast forward to today, and we have wearable technology, smart devices in our homes, smart factories, precision agriculture, and IoT in public spaces that streamline everything from traffic flow to readings from water meters. We also use IoT in healthcare to monitor and track healthcare data that help fight disease. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

IoT Architecture

The growth in the use of IoT has been driven by advancements in technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), edge computing technology, and faster connectivity and data transmission. This has resulted in a multilayer IoT architecture designed to take raw data and turn it into usable information. Here are the layers of IoT.

Physical layer

This layer comprises the physical devices themselves and the sensors and cameras that gather raw data that will be transmitted to the computing layer.

Edge computing layer

This is where the raw data is processed. It is done close to the physical layer to reduce latency and to provide real-time data processing.

Application layer

Processed data is sent to the application layer, where it becomes actionable. Algorithms are used to analyze patterns and behaviors and predict outcomes. This makes predictive maintenance, trend analysis, and anomaly detection possible.

Cybersecurity and IoT

While IoT is a technology that greatly benefits society, it doesn’t come without its risks. The increased complexity of the technology and the fact that it is just as accessible to cybercriminals as it is to everyone else means that cybersecurity solutions must keep up. Taking IoT security seriously is directly connected to data protection, the continuity of business operations, a good reputation, and the continued trust of customers and partners.

With this in mind, IoT cybersecurity has three goals, collectively known as the CIA Triad. These are:

  • Confidentiality – Ensuring that data is fully protected in storage and during transport.
  • Integrity – Ensuring that data is free from tampering and corruption and accurate, consistent, and reliable.
  • Availability – Ensuring that data is only available through authorized access by the people who need it when they need it.

Challenges associated with IoT include the following:

  • Each IoT device connected to a network provides cybercriminals with another potential entry point into that network.
  • Each IoT device comes with its own security protocols and specifications, which makes it challenging to come up with a standardized security posture.
  • There are often vulnerabilities in the software and firmware because IoT devices access fewer computing resources than non-IoT devices.
  • Communications between IoT devices and the network may be less secure than those between no-IoT devices because traditional security measures are tough to implement on IoT devices.
  • The potential for data leaks, malware, and targeted attacks, such as Denial of Service Attacks, are higher with IoT devices.

Cybersecurity Best Practices with IoT

To minimize the risk that comes with the use of IoT, there are a few best practices to follow.

Secure all Smart Devices

All IoT-connected devices must be secure, which includes:

  • Ensuring you identify each device you have.
  • Making all device hardware tamper resistant.
  • Installing all software updates and patches.
  • Implementing device data protection.
  • Ensuring all components meet performance requirements.
  • Regularly testing the devices for security vulnerabilities.

Enhance Network Security

Enhancing network security for IoT devices can be challenging. you can do so by:

  • Ensuring each IoT device on your network has strong multifactor authentication and access credentials.
  • Enabling secure communication protocols and data encryption.
  • Reducing the device bandwidth to limit network traffic to only as much as required for the IoT device to function.
  • Use network segmentation and restrict access to each segment, so if a data breach occurs in one segment, it won’t affect the other segments.
  • Securing your APIs from unauthorized access.

Safeguard data security

You can ensure data security by protecting its confidentiality, integrity, and availability. This can be achieved by:

  • Protecting sensitive information using unique passwords for each device.
  • Ensuring all network communications are secure by restricting communication to only what is necessary and using encryptions for all communications.
  • Gathering only data necessary for device operations.
  • Using digital certificates to ensure data is securely exchanged and identities are verified.

Improve Firmware Security

IoT device firmware should be as secure as your network, software, and data. You can accomplish this by:

  • Providing security during compilation.
  • Providing protection during runtime to ensure data integrity and detect intrusive activities.
  • Ensuring the integrity of the firmware by using encryption, digital signatures, regular security updates, and hardware identification.
  • Performing regular security testing on software, including penetration testing, audits of the security code, and critical code fuzzing.

Analyzing IoT security

Implement security analytics with the use of massively parallel processing (MPP), so you can analyze significant amounts of data in real time. This will allow you to detect anomalies within the IoT ecosystem.

Reach out to Platinum Technologies today to find out how we can help you improve your IoT security.

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