What is IoT?

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects – “things” – that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies to connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet, without real-time human interaction. IoT devices enable automated mass data collection and aggregation. But the capabilities don’t stop there.

Devices like smart phones have enabled consumers to configure their homes by the tap of a button. Whether it’s adjusting the lighting in your house or locking your front door – activities such as these have become possible thanks to these devices. IoT devices range from general objects such as kitchen appliances, baby monitors, and cars to sophisticated industrial tools like aircrafts, smart robots, and heavy machinery. While such devices have enabled businesses and everyday people to automate their life for ease, they have become targets for hacking groups looking for vulnerabilities within your network, as they allow data to be drawn from many sources.

As of 2017, there were 20 billion connected IoT devices, and experts expect that figure to grow tremendously by 2025 (SandstormIT). With the number of IoT devices skyrocketing in recent years, securing them poses as a new challenge for most businesses. Below are tips for securing your ever-growing number of IoT devices.

 

Why Businesses Care about IoT

This can be answered with one word, “data”. With the massive amount of data that’s readily available from IoT devices, businesses can make better informed decisions, allocate resources with ease, and operate much more efficiently. In short, IoT has transformed the way businesses receive data. For example, the healthcare industry has benefited from such technologies that perform remote real-time patient monitoring enabling doctors to provide a higher quality of care. But businesses ought to consider the security of these IoT devices. As previously mentioned, the purpose of these devices is to collect, correlate, and share mass amounts of data by way of automation. If a business’s IoT devices are left unsecured, they can be treated as a gateway for unauthorized access to its network, resulting in a breach.

 

Security Concerns with IoT Devices

There are many security concerns with IoT products. From self-driving cars to real-time heart  monitors, securing each device and their vulnerabilities presents its own unique set of challenges. The security of an IoT device mainly relies on the manufacturer of the product itself. Unfortunately, securing these devices is not as simple as developing a one-size-fits-all solution because many of them have communication protocols that are specific to each device’s operations. In a world where profit trumps quality, security is often a skipped or rushed step, which has resulted in poor levels of security among devices we rely so heavily on.

 

Securing IoT Devices

To successfully secure IoT devices, there are a few things businesses should consider:

 

1. Employ Device Discovery & Ensure Complete Visibility

One of the first and most important steps to securing your organization’s IoT devices is gaining visibility into the number of IoT devices connected to its network. Locate what types of devices are embedded in your network and keep an up-to-date inventory of all the IoT assets, as well as information such as the manufacturer, model ID, serial number, hardware, software and firmware versions, and information on existing operating systems and configuration applied to each IoT device. Determine the amount of risk associated with each device. This should help the organization as it segments the devices and as they develop a firewall policy. To secure your IoT devices, your business must  keep your asset map up to date with each new IoT device connected to the network.

2. Segment your Network to Bolster its Defense

The goal of segmenting one’s network is to reduce the attack surface. Network segmentation divides a network into various subdivisions to provide more control of movement of traffic between devices within a network. Failing to segment your network could result in an infected endpoint spreading across the network. In short, the more segmented your network, the more difficult it is for hackers to exploit any vulnerabilities. In addition, businesses ought to consider utilizing virtual local area network (VLAN) configurations and next-generation firewall procedures that implement network segments that protect IoT devices and keep them separate from the company’s IT assets.

3. Adopt Secure Passwords & Implement MFA

Weak passwords remain to drive password-related attacks on IoT devices. Maintaining strong password security is critical to securing your IoT endpoints. However, improving the quality of your passwords is simply not enough in today’s world. Adding Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a must. MFA is an authentication process that requires the user to provide two or more verification factors to gain access into one’s network. MFA is a core component of a strong identity and access management policy. This way, if a hacker has compromised your login credentials, MFA requires one or more additional verification factors, like sending a verification code to your cell phone or email address, which decreases the likelihood of a successful cyber-attack.

4. Patch & Update Firmware when Necessary

Most IT systems are powered to apply automatic system updates which regularly patches any security flaws within the device. However, most IoT devices are not given this capability, meaning that vulnerabilities will not magically repair themselves. When adding any new IoT devices to your network, go to the vendor’s website to download security patch updates that may be available and maintain this practice regularly.

5. Monitor IoT Devices 24x7x365

Real-time monitoring, hunting, and detection for cyber threats are important for organizations as they manage their cyber risk accrued by their IoT devices. Most traditional endpoint security solutions require software agents that IoT devices are designed to handle, resulting in your IoT devices can’t be protected by these traditional security solutions. Implement a real-time monitoring solution that rigorously monitors and analyzes the behavior across all your network endpoints.

 

Protect Your IoT Devices with AgileBlue

Choosing a vendor to protect your IoT devices and much more can be an overwhelming task for a business missing large funding for its cyber security strategy; failing to secure your IoT devices doesn’t have to be an option. AgileBlue offers full visibility into your digital infrastructure. We build a custom ring of security around what matters most to you, because no organization is the same. Our U.S.-based Security Operations Center-as-a-Service (SOCaaS) and Extended Detection and Response (XDR) platform is backed by our team of SOC analysts, so when your team is offline and away, you can rest easy knowing we have your IoT devices and their data monitored.

Want to learn more? Schedule a demo.