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Analysis: IoT remains revolutionary, but also unsecure

For all of the Internet of Things’ capabilities, many of the 14.4 billion globally connected devices are not fully secure, Hexnode founder and CEO Apu Pavithran recently wrote for Technative.

“While basic security begins with enforcing complex passwords and configuring perimeter-based VPNs and firewalls, the new threats within the realm demand newer security techniques and strategies,” Pavithran said. “So, before heading over to a more immersive IoT experience, it is essential to take a step back and evaluate where the $478.36 billion industry stands in terms of its digital security hygiene.”

The benefits of IoT can also be its downside — the cloud makes it possible for an unlimited number of devices to be connected and data that can be stored. That limitlessness can also make companies vulnerable to cyberattacks, however. Businesses must be able to show they can keep all and any data they collect secure.

The first step for companies protecting data and ensuring their customers’ privacy is to implement Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions, according to Pavithran. This will ensure, “the right access to the right resources.” IAM solutions can alert IT administrators if private data is shared or an employee with elevated access adds unwarranted “super admins.”

Once a business defines corporate resource access, it can identify its most prized information and encrypt it. However, given IT enthusiasts’ warning that the encryption barrier could soon be broken, businesses are encouraged to take their security measures a step further. This includes deploying solutions such as Enterprise Content Management (ECM), Data Loss Prevention (DLP) technology and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS).

“While systems that use ECM extend the concept of content management by providing a secure repository for data, DLP assists network administrators in keeping track of confidential data transfers,” Pavithran said.

How IoT and AI can work together

The combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and IoT has created what’s known as the Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT). IoT devices collect data, while AI takes it in and provides a “smart” touch to the connectivity concept and delivers a more sophisticated IoT.

AI currently helps businesses detect network intrusions in real time so they can be contained right away. Machine learning also assists companies by spotting attacks by learning from prior threats and creating solutions that can shut down a threat before it impacts a system. As innovations and research increases, IoT devices will also be able to analyze data traffic patterns and report potential threats.

While AI is a valuable asset, with even more future potential, it can only truly be helpful if it’s secure, according to Pavithran. Between 6G and all the traffic that AI systems consume, businesses must upgrade their IT security and “have a decentralized approach.”

“With the advent of new technologies, there exist the forever concerns about security and privacy,” Pavithran said. “Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate these technologies and their ability to fit in the business context before jumping on the bandwagon. As privacy and compliance take the lead on security practices, further research and innovation into these technologies will determine how IT security hygiene will shape up in the future.”

How to secure an IoT structure

IoT has helped make exchanging data from across the world possible. The efficient data communication is a bonus, but all it takes is one vulnerability in just one device to bring down an entire network, Pavithran writes. Businesses must have “comprehensive visibility” into their IoT structure for it to be truly secure. Having Network Access Control (NAC) solutions on hand is a good first step toward enterprises being able to see their device status.

Virtual Private Networks (VPN) have been a long-time security go-to for many businesses. Unfortunately, VPNs have become less reliable as hackers can camouflage their activities through “piggybacking.” Additionally, transport layer security (TLS) encryption can hide the traffic between hackers and their victims.

Instead, businesses should turn to some form of Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) technology, which is a subset of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), according to Pavithran. Deploying a SASE model lets a company’s IT admins define how much of the network is available to the corporate endpoints.

“As the Internet of Things begins to handle critical infrastructures for healthcare, energy and the military, businesses cannot afford to take a backseat in terms of security,” Pavithran said. “Unsecured devices could leave enterprises vulnerable to data thefts, physical damage, revenue loss, reputational damage and more. While loT operates on multiple levels of endpoints, networks, and the cloud, businesses will need to invest in multiple security levels to guarantee a threat-free environment.”

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