Everything in your house being connected to the internet – your coffee machine, thermostat, fridge, car, even your toothbrush – is no longer the stuff of science fiction. Internet of Things (IoT) is a reality, and it has become an indispensable part when it comes to organized businesses and services.
“Over 80% of large companies around the world are adopting IoT solutions, stoking an “invisible revolution” that will reach 94% of enterprises in two years,” Microsoft assessed in 2019. Post-Covid digital transformation put the IoT adaptation levels on steroids.
However, this massive integration came a significant cost: security.
“Organizations across industries are fighting a continuously growing rate of attacks targeting their data. There has also been a nearly 50 percent increase in insider threats over the past two years,” reported Solutions Review in March 2023.
Despite these alarming statistics, a shockingly small number of Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) are confident in their information security’s ability to assess and mitigate the risk associated with IoT effectively.
The Cyber Express delves into the importance of IoT security and provides five best practices that organizations should consider in 2023 to help mitigate potential attacks.
Why is IoT security important?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is like a digital web that connects physical devices to the internet, enabling them to communicate with each other and share information.
The possibilities of what IoT can achieve in various industries are endless, from optimizing energy consumption to automating manufacturing processes. But where there’s connectivity, there’s also vulnerability.
Cybercriminals can take advantage of this connectivity to wreak havoc on IoT devices, and that’s where security and privacy come in. It’s clear that securing IoT devices is crucial for protecting sensitive data, appliances, and, ultimately, the well-being of people.
In 2023, the Internet of Things (IoT) will continue revolutionizing our daily lives and work, bringing forth new technologies that were once only imagined in science fiction. But, with convenience and innovation comes a growing concern over the security risks associated with IoT.
These risks pose a severe threat to both individuals and organizations, making it vital to prioritize IoT security measures.
IoT security risks in 2023
Cyberattacks are among the most significant IoT security risks. As more devices become connected, the likelihood of cyber-attacks also increases.
Cybercriminals can exploit vulnerabilities in IoT devices to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data or even take control of the device. In 2023, cyberattacks are expected to become more sophisticated, making detecting and preventing them even more challenging.
Data breaches occur when hackers gain access to sensitive data. When it comes to connected devices, IoT security is violated and data breaches occur when the data transmitted between devices is not encrypted or when the devices are not secured.
In 2023, data breaches will remain a significant IoT security risk, especially as more devices become connected to the internet.
Physical security threats
Physical threats pose a significant IoT security risk, especially in industrial settings. Hackers can physically tamper with devices or systems to disrupt operations or cause damage.
For example, a hacker could take control of a factory’s control system, causing machines to malfunction or even causing a physical accident. In 2023, physical security threats will continue to be a major concern for IoT security.
Financial risks are also a significant concern when it comes to IoT security violations.
In a cyberattack or data breach, companies can face significant financial losses due to the costs associated with fixing the breach, paying for damages, and legal fees.
In 2023, financial risks will remain a significant concern for IoT security as companies continue to invest in IoT devices.
When it comes to IoT security violation, privacy concerns come along with all kinds of risks. As more devices connect to the internet, individuals’ data is increasingly at risk of being compromised.
Hackers can access personal information, such as location data, and use it for malicious purposes. In 2023, privacy concerns will remain a significant security risk for IoT devices, especially as regulations around data privacy become more stringent.
Five best practices for IoT security in 2023
As IoT devices become more ubiquitous, they become a prime target for cyberattacks. Organizations must prioritize security and privacy measures to protect their networks and data.
Data analytics and machine learning
IoT devices generate vast amounts of data that can be analyzed to gain insights into consumer behavior, product usage, and operational efficiency.
However, the varying IoT infrastructures (i.e., cloud, edge, fog) and the limitations of the IoT application layer protocols in transmitting/receiving messages become the barriers in creating intelligent IoT applications, wrote researchers Erwin Adi, Adnan Anwar, Zubair Baig, and Sherali Zeadally, in their research paper, Machine learning and data analytics for the IoT.
“These barriers prevent current intelligent IoT applications to adaptively learn from other IoT applications,” they added.
Companies can use machine learning algorithms to uncover patterns and make predictions based on this data, inform business decisions, and help organizations optimize their operations and offerings.
Interoperability and standardization
The primary benefits offered by the Internet of Things (IoT) are not derived from an individual connected component. Rather, the value stems from the collective presence of numerous interconnected devices and how they collaborate harmoniously.
“Interoperability enables communication between heterogeneous devices or system in order to achieve a common goal,” said a research report by IIT Kharagpur.
“However, the current devices and systems are fragmented with respect to the communication technologies, protocols, and data formats. This diversity makes it difficult for devices and systems in the IoT network to communicate and share their data with one another.”
As IoT ecosystems grow, establishing interoperability and standardization protocols is essential to ensure seamless communication between devices.
This can help organizations avoid vendor lock-in and simplify the integration of new devices into existing networks.
Edge computing involves processing data at the device or sensor level, reducing latency, and improving the overall performance of IoT systems. Edge computing can also reduce bandwidth requirements and enhance the privacy and security of data.
“Edge computing is one way that a company can use and distribute a common pool of resources across a large number of locations to help scale centralized infrastructure to meet the needs of increasing numbers of devices and data,” said an RedHat analysis report.
Combining edge computing with IoT devices provides a localized solution for processing and storage needs.
This union results in numerous benefits, such as reduced latency in communication between IoT devices and central IT networks, improved operational efficiency and faster response times.
Additionally, network bandwidth is enhanced, and systems continue to operate even when network connections are lost.
Furthermore, the coupling of edge computing with IoT enables local data processing, aggregation, and prompt decision-making via analytics algorithms and machine learning.
Device lifecycle management
IoT devices have a lifespan, and organizations must plan for device lifecycle management, including retirement, replacement, and disposal.
This includes tracking and managing the devices from purchase to end-of-life, ensuring that software updates are timely and frequent and that the devices are disposed of securely and responsibly.
“It’s critical to maintain and manage devices through varying life cycles until they reach end of life. With remote capability, managing connected devices can help you save on costs and labor, even for devices in hard-to-reach locations,” observed an Intel analysis of IoT manageability.
IoT security risks and best practices: In a nutshell
IoT technology presents many opportunities for businesses to improve operations and customer experiences. However, as with any new technology, organizations must be aware of the risks and take steps to mitigate them.
By following these best practices for IoT in 2023, companies can ensure that their IoT deployments are secure, compliant, and valuable.