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Mastering IoT compliance in a GDPR world

Believe it or not, the one-year anniversary of the date the General Data Protection Regulation went into effect is almost upon us. The May 25, 2018 date will live in infamy for many organizations — particularly those that scrambled to get their people, processes and technologies in order ahead of the GDPR deadline.

But now that we’re a year in, and the initial chaos has died down, it’s the perfect time to reflect upon how GDPR has impacted organizations over the past 12 months — and not just from a data privacy perspective, but from an overall risk standpoint. With this in mind, I’d like to discuss how the regulation has prompted organizations to take IoT security more seriously.

IoT visibility is central to GDPR compliance

IoT has exploded the attack surface, making complete visibility into all connected endpoints across all computing environments a major challenge for many IT security teams. In my first IoT Agenda post, I talked about how, for many of our enterprise customers, it’s not uncommon that we profile a third or more IP-enabled endpoints as IoT-type devices — but many IT security teams don’t even know these devices are on their networks.

If you don’t know an IoT device is on your network, how can you protect it? You can’t. Not only does this introduce significant enterprise risk, but, in the case of GDPR, failing to implement proper security controls and data privacy measures on IoT devices leaves you vulnerable to compliance fines and associated consequences, such as a damaged reputation and loss of customers.

Rather than risk noncompliance, many organizations are getting serious about IoT security. And it all starts with visibility.

Network infrastructure monitoring technology helps organizations unearth unknown networks and attached endpoints to gain complete network visibility into all assets residing across all computing environments, as well as data at rest, data in transit and data in process. Armed with this information, internal teams can answer important questions such as: What IoT devices are on corporate networks? What data is being held, where and why? Who’s accessing that data and is access appropriate? Most importantly, with an accurate understanding of the state of their network infrastructure, IT security teams can protect all IoT devices and the data they analyze and transmit as specified by GDPR.

Beyond understanding what IoT devices are on corporate networks, IT security teams must also know where they are, what they’re doing and who they’re communicating with to ensure proper security and compliance measures and to protect personally identifiable information. Helpful practices to consider include monitoring IP addresses on the network and how they’re moving, identifying potential leak paths and unauthorized communications to and from the internet, and detecting anomalous traffic and behavior.

The role of automated policy management

If knowing is half the battle; the other half comprises action. Once companies have a comprehensive understanding of the endpoints and data residing on their networks, they can develop “zones of control,” bringing each under the right network policies and access rules.

Automated policy orchestration tools help companies achieve continuous security and compliance with regulations, such as GDPR, because they enforce appropriate access policies, rules and configurations on all assets, regardless of how they change or move. Additionally, in the event of noncompliance, policy orchestration technology makes it easier for IT security teams to identify where the violation occurred — a capability that comes in especially handy if an organization needs to meet GDPR’s 72-hour breach notification deadline.

Prioritizing IoT security

To achieve IoT compliance in a GDPR world, organizations must have real-time visibility across all of their networks, devices, endpoints and data. They must be able to immediately detect any suspicious network behavior or compliance gaps. And they must automate response so they can quickly remediate security and compliance violations. Network infrastructure monitoring technology and automated policy management, along with the above tips, are a good start to achieving not only GDPR compliance, but a stronger security posture. And now that most companies have mastered the basic building blocks of GDPR, hopefully we’ll continue to see IoT security and compliance become a greater priority over the coming year.

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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