It’s undeniable that the internet of things will continue growing in popularity across a wide array of industries. More and more applications will begin to deploy wireless sensor networks as part of their products, services or operations, making it imperative for organizations to increase their focus on IoT data security.
The challenge of IoT security
Managing data security for IoT devices has traditionally required a considerable amount of technical expertise, substantial overhead cost and implementation of a separate system to safeguard dormant data.
Why is IoT data security, in particular, so difficult to get a handle on? IoT is built of very small and inexpensive pieces of equipment that need to constantly collect data and transfer it to the cloud for processing — a process called telemetry.
The nature of how IoT technology functions makes securing these connected devices quite complex and presents a number of unique challenges:
- Communication lapses: Faulty Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) can become vulnerabilities when communication between servers and a web application is disrupted.
- Limited threat model coverage: SSL/TLS can only protect data in motion (the transmission of sensor data). SSL/TLS does not protect data in use (data in memory) or data at rest (storage of data).
- Shelf life: IoT devices are widely deployed for much longer lifecycles than other types of electronics. Since they cannot receive updates, security protocols are broken more often.
- Data at rest threat coverage: Transparent data encryption (TDE) or full-disk encryption only protect data from physical theft of storage media or virtual disk images. TDE does very little to manage access to data when storage volumes are mounted and active.
The new evolution of IoT security management
Thankfully, seasoned IoT security experts have managed to develop an improved, next-generation system for protecting the sensitive data gathered and stored using connected devices.
On top of protecting network transport using TLS and securely authenticating connected devices using industry standard techniques, new systems offer a wealth of advantages.
This enhanced, modern IoT data security system replaces critical data with aliases. Also called armoring, aliasing important data is managed at the application level, not via the device. This means that securing the data is independent of each device’s own firmware and hardware.
Moreover, these next-generation platforms — which are currently commercially available — take the footprint of sensitive data away from the client IoT operator’s own application. The IoT security provider assumes the entire burden of safeguarding said data.
For added security measures, advanced systems like this allow for additional authentication techniques that are layered onto the platform, enabling extra customization options. Similarly, authentication to sensor databases can be separated from authentication to IoT queues, strengthening protection against breaches spurred by weak IoT authentication.
Relying on outdated IoT data security technology to protect a business can be quite the risk and leave a number of vulnerabilities wide open. Updating to new data security systems not only benefits IoT companies, but impacts the industry as a whole.
Next-generation systems allow for built-in compliance and enable entities to focus intently on growth and go-to-market strategies without worrying about managing security. These systems can also be implemented much faster than legacy methods. They use a framework of prebuilt controls to enable data protection and utilize existing service provider audit certification to shortcut compliance programs. In addition, they use proved service-level agreements to extend your application’s SLA and use prebuilt tools to enable secure debugging, logging and alerting.
When organizations of any size begin implementing wireless sensor networks to embrace the ever-growing IoT, choosing an effective and forward-thinking IoT data security strategy is the ideal path to take.
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