Securing IoT devices to maximise their value

Issue 7 2022 Infrastructure, Information Security


Amritesh Anand.

The Internet of Things (IoT) offers numerous opportunities for businesses to gain new insight, streamline processes and leverage additional sources of data. However, anything that is connected to the Internet is a potential security vulnerability, and IoT devices are increasingly targets through which cybercriminals infiltrate networks.

Any connected device must be adequately protected as part of an overall security strategy, and to help businesses leverage the value of IoT data for analytics. Beyond that, the right IT partner and effective KPIs and execution strategy can help businesses gain more control over critical data and these intricate assets.

A growing market

The South African IoT market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 20,96% through 2025. While IoT has many applications, it is seeing significant growth in manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, retail, energy and utilities, and the residential market. Digital transformation in the manufacturing industry and the implementation of smart manufacturing is further fuelling the South African IoT market.

This growth is being driven by the rise of artificial intelligence and big data, as well as rapid increases in the use of smart devices across industries, including the home. Smart, connected IoT devices are being used in many areas, including asset tracking, connected vehicles, smart metering for power and utilities, IoT-based goods condition monitoring in transit, predictive maintenance and more. However, security issues remain a concern and a challenge for the implementation of IoT.

Risky business

As the use of IoT devices grows, so too do the risks associated with them, and as more devices are connected, the potential attack surface widens. IoT devices are prone to vulnerabilities and are often used in malicious exploits, and this risk needs to be mitigated. However, patching, upgrades and maintenance can be challenging if this is not automated, due to the sheer volume of connected devices that must be managed. The ever-present skills gap also comes into play as there is a shortage of resources with the skills required to secure and manage IoT devices.

IoT devices present an overly large attack surface and have inherent application vulnerabilities, but often organisations also have incorrect access control and insufficient physical security. Addressing these issues is essential in ensuring that the value of IoT can be maximised while the threats connected devices present are minimised.

Securing IoT

There are a number of best practices that can be put into place to secure IoT devices, including device discovery for complete visibility, network segmentation for stronger defence, secure password practices, automated patching and firmware updating, and active monitoring of all IoT devices at all times.

Poor IoT device management is an ongoing problem that requires a vulnerability management solution to deliver constant and periodic security checks on vulnerabilities, firmware updates, alerting and reporting. In addition, many IoT security solutions include hardware-based and virtual firewalls, device identification tools, and other tools designed to provide visibility and protection for unmanaged IoT devices, to curb the threat of malicious traffic and attempted breaches.

A managed IoT security solution is often an effective option to ensure that weak points in connected devices and the servers, APIs and cloud services that interact with them can be identified and addressed to mitigate risk and vulnerability.

Remote monitoring and managed services are key

Remote monitoring is an essential tool to monitor the health of IoT assets, generate automated alerts and notifications, track equipment, and monitor performance and usage. Proactive monitoring also enables predictive maintenance to ensure assets are always functioning optimally and never break down.

IoT security ensures the availability, integrity and confidentiality of your IoT solution. IoT security tools protect from threats and breaches, identify and monitor risks, and can help fix vulnerabilities. With the lack of currently available skills, a trusted IT partner offering a managed IoT security service is essential to securing the IoT, mitigating risk, effectively managing assets, and maximising the value of IoT for business benefit.




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