The Internet of Things (IoT) is fuelling a landscape of great business opportunity. From existing companies developing new product and service lines to harness this newly connected ecosystem, to brand-new start-ups developing fields like telehealth, smart manufacturing and autonomous vehicles, there is innovation and success at every turn.
But IoT success is not without its challenges. One of the most complex is security. How can you best protect your IoT product or business from malicious data theft, digital vandalism or simple human error, remaining compliant with relevant legislation and regulations, and offering peace of mind to your users?
Security solutions, in an information technology context, are the multitude of ways in which organisations protect information. The data in question might require protection as a matter of legal or regulatory frameworks, such as individuals’ financial details or medical information, or it might be of particular value to the organisation, such as intellectual property.
As the tools and techniques cyber criminals deploy to target such data evolve and become more diverse and sophisticated, so the cyber security industry has to evolve to keep up. Protecting corporate infrastructures is a complex and ever-changing task – and the IoT is no different.
However, the IoT also introduces some additional challenges, making protecting it even more complex:
Whether your organisation is developing IoT products or simply deploying them, the same general security considerations apply.
First, you need to consider the individual devices that form your IoT ecosystem. How can you ensure that every single one of those devices is registered, identifiable, verifiable and trusted? And how can you repeat that process of trust hundreds or thousands of times, as new devices are continually provisioned?
Second, you need to think about the data collected via your IoT infrastructure. How can you protect that data from malicious intervention and accidental leakage, from the point of collection through to analysis and storage?
Third, you need to think about management. How can you maintain visibility and control of your IoT environment on an ongoing basis? Clearly the scale of the IoT means that some levels of automation are necessary, but how can you balance this with a comprehensive, real-time overview of your IoT ecosystem, with instant alerts and actions for potential security incidents?
Fourth, you need to think about scalability. The elastic dynamism of the IoT can be one of its greatest strengths, enabling organisations deploying it to take advantage of it rapidly, and organisations manufacturing devices for it to quickly build up large customer bases. But security can be difficult to scale just as rapidly whilst remaining comprehensive.
Finally, you need to think about the supply chain. Your IoT ecosystem does not end at your organisation’s perimeter. A wide range of manufacturers, vendors and other suppliers are typically involved in every IoT deployment – which means that other of those third parties has a potential impact on your own organisation’s security posture.
We’ve covered the major challenges of securing your IoT product or business, and the key principles you need to consider when devising an IoT security strategy. Now let’s turn to the practical steps you need to take.