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IoT and security: Using your network to become an IT disruptor

Despite all of the promises offered by the internet of things, the biggest limitation of this fast-moving space could prove to be security and deep network visibility. To get the most value out of an IoT investment, organizations need to appreciate the capabilities and resources that must be in place and respond accordingly.

And there’s no time like the present. McKinsey predicts that by 2020 the IoT market will be worth $581 billion for information and communications technology-based spending alone, growing at a compound annual growth rate between 7% and 15%. By 2020, the discrete manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and utility industries are projected to spend $40 billion each on IoT platforms, systems and services.

The value proposition of IoT for these verticals is well known. Sensors embedded in manufacturing equipment can transmit data about their condition so they can be serviced before a breakdown, for example. But to remotely control a vast array of devices transmitting data over the internet, corporate networks that provide deep visibility and analytics become an important area of focus. The more devices that come online, the broader the surface area becomes for potential cyberattacks. This can be a difficult task to curb with thousands or even millions of IoT devices to manage and monitor. Plus, as the list of connected devices grows, enterprise network traffic increases exponentially, leaving IT teams to decide how to best support the increase in demand.

Here are the strategies and tools you need to overcome these challenges and become an IoT disruptor.

Create an agile foundation with software-defined networking

Enterprises can improve network agility and visibility by looking to technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN), which centralizes control of the network through intelligent software.

Advanced segmentation allows you to easily “spin up” new virtual environments where IoT network traffic is separated from critical network infrastructure for security and management purposes. Plus, centralized control allows you to seamlessly provision resources for peak-load demands and streamline processes. And a complete history of all network activity that is both readily searchable and sortable in an easy-to-use console is the secret to deploying and managing IoT while minimizing security risks. With SDN, enterprises can allocate dedicated resources to IoT infrastructures without impeding other business processes.

Implement deep network visibility

For effective management, IoT-created data needs to be stored, processed, analyzed and acted upon. IoT devices constantly generate and transmit trickles of data, and being able to view all of the data and effectively process and analyze it helps create efficiencies. This approach focuses resources on data that could have security implications and overlook superfluous information that presents less of a threat.

Continuously monitor and secure

Enterprises implementing IoT programs need to take into consideration a list of security precautions including policies for connected devices, security monitoring, protection against botnets and security patches for all connected devices.

Coordinated segmentation strategies and security policies make it possible to dynamically monitor network behavior in response to typical IoT events and report on anomalies that could indicate a security threat. And comprehensive security ecosystems based on machine learning and behavioral analytics detect early indicators of network infiltration. Additionally, 24/7 security monitoring by a team of experts can accelerate the processes needed to identify attackers, watch for lateral moves and mitigate threats before they cause extensive damage.

IoT in action: How Teknion became an IoT disruptor

Using global cloud and IoT strategies, high-end workplace furniture manufacturer Teknion shifted to a new analytics-based business model. With a secure software-defined platform, the company established industrial IoT capabilities to collect massive amounts of data from equipment and apply advanced analytics. The project resulted in dashboards that help leadership make real-time decisions about usage and repair scheduling. These insights, alongside the network’s agility to create an unlimited number of virtual environments where R&D teams can safely test and improve the latest technologies, are part of Teknion’s innovation incubator.

Benefits include:

  • Agile IT infrastructure, accelerating cloud migration and empowering a sophisticated IoT strategy;
  • Simplified IT complexity and management with a global software-defined network platform;
  • Enhanced network efficiency with on-demand bandwidth and deep analytics; and
  • Reduced equipment, maintenance and support costs.

Ensuring a network can adequately support the advanced needs of IoT is critical, particularly as global markets become increasingly competitive. Making decisions based on data and applying this intelligence will be a prerequisite for industry domination. In fact, 53% of enterprises expect IoT data to assist in increasing revenues in the next year. With numbers like that, the necessity and ultimate advantage of investing in software-defined networks are clear.

What’s ahead

Rest assured, IoT is still in its infancy — but the impact across consumer and commercial fronts is obvious. The goal of this column is to highlight the various applications of IoT, the practicalities of implementation and the technology that will be necessary to make it all happen. It’s an exciting time, as IoT is a hotbed for innovation.

Based on that, there’s a new era on the horizon that will change the way we store, manage and protect data, as well as challenge us to rethink the way we view the cloud, security and big data. It should be a thought-provoking exercise as we break it down.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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