Definition

IoT security (Internet of Things security)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: IoT analytics guide: Understanding Internet of Things data
Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

IoT security is the area of endeavor concerned with safeguarding connected devices and networks in the Internet of things (IoT).

The Internet of Things involves the increasing prevalence of objects and entities – known, in this context as things -- provided with unique identifiers and the ability to automatically transfer data over a network. Much of the increase in IoT communication comes from computing devices and embedded sensor systems used in industrial machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, smart energy grids, home and building automation, vehicle to vehicle communication and wearable computing devices.

The main problem is that because the idea of networking appliances and other objects is relatively new, security has not always been considered in product design.  IoT products are often sold with old and unpatched embedded operating systems and software. Furthermore, purchasers often fail to change the default passwords on smart devices -- or if they do change them, fail to select sufficiently strong passwords. To improve security, an IoT device that needs to be directly accessible over the Internet, should be segmented into its own network and have network access restricted. The network segment should then be monitored to identify potential anomalous traffic, and action should be taken if there is a problem.

Security experts have warned of the potential risk of large numbers of unsecured devices connecting to the Internet since the IoT concept was first proposed in the late 1990s. In December of 2013, a researcher at Proofpoint, an enterprise security firm, discovered the first IoT botnet. According to Proofpoint, more than 25 percent of the botnet was made up of devices other than computers, including smart TVs, baby monitors and other household appliances.

Alan Grau of Icon Labs discusses IoT security:

This was last updated in September 2015

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