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As IoT deployments evolve, organizations encounter challenges to integrate devices and protocols with different power levels and connectivity requirements while IT teams ensure low latency and high security at all times.
IoT gateways manage data transmission and bandwidth, secure data through modern encryption methods, and keep hardware costs down because some organizations continue to use legacy devices in their IoT network.
These gateways manage the influx of data from IoT devices, deliver computational power in edge and fog computing scenarios and extend device lifespans to keep IT costs in check. Plus, they add another layer of security to networks, making IoT gateways even more attractive.
To manage the complex mix of technologies and requirements, admins turn to IoT gateways as key players in their data centers. Berg Insights forecasted that cellular IoT gateway shipments will reach nearly 9 million units per year by 2023.
How does an IoT gateway work?
An IoT gateway, which can be a physical device or software program, connects the cloud to IoT devices. It acts as a bridge between different data sources and destinations such as servers or databases. Gateways can optimize the data transfer to keep it efficient and free-flowing, so the devices can focus on data collection.
A gateway also provides additional security for the IoT network and the data it transports. It protects the data as it moves to and from the devices and the network, ensuring that only authorized data transfers. IT admins can secure gateways from malicious outside attacks through tamper detection and data encryption.
Organizations use IoT gateways for various purposes, such as building automation and fleet management, in industries including industrial asset management and maintenance. They maintain connectivity and security of IoT devices on any network across a wide range of physical locations.
Cybersecurity serves as a key function of gateways
One reason organizations often install IoT gateways is to add an extra layer of network security. IoT gateway security protects the transfer of data to and from IoT devices, because it only transmits authenticated data.
Unidirectional gateways protect legacy devices that cannot be secured remotely by only allowing data to move in one direction, typically from the device to the gateway. Gateway filtering technology can monitor, manage and secure the data transfer through authenticated traffic with packet filtering or physical network signal filtering.
Even if an IoT device is hacked, the gateway can block the data from the rest of the network. Conversely, if attackers hack the gateway, it can prevent access to the devices and the network through authentication protocols.
6 ways to secure IoT gateways
IT admins can ensure IoT gateways stay as secure as the entire network and devices with six key steps.
1. Implement only authenticated IoT gateways
Many gateway vendors offer security certificates with their devices and software that verifies the products' security level. Only install secure gateways that integrate with security protocols already in use. Ensure it integrates with already installed IoT devices and does not create vulnerabilities within the network.
2. Perform a security assessment before implementation
Even after admins purchase a gateway, it's essential to perform a security assessment to ensure it meets the organizational security requirements and the industry's legal requirements. Each gateway has features that may affect where to install it, how it's used within a network and how it fits into a security stack.
3. Update gateway software
A Kaspersky security report found that 85% of organizations had obsolete or vulnerable software in their networks. Outdated software is always a security risk, so it's critical to keep IoT gateways updated.
4. Regularly review access to the gateway
IoT admins can easily install a device and not change any of the default settings or access accounts, but doing this could pose threats. To minimize the IoT gateway risk, monitor and update the access list regularly, including user accounts and IoT devices. Revoke permissions from anyone or any device that no longer needs access or seems suspect.
5. Include gateways in security audits
With the explosion of IoT devices in most networks, it can be challenging to keep track of them all. Be sure to include IoT gateways in regular assessments and audits. Consider doing a separate IoT security audit because the technology changes quickly. Keep decision-makers and data center admins updated on the latest reports and threat intelligence so they can proactively address concerns.
6. Use a separate network for IoT gateways and devices
Organizations often use IT networks for IoT device communications, which increases the security risk. Data center admins should monitor network traffic regularly, specifically at the communication integration points between regular and IoT networks. Ideally, use a separate network for IoT devices and gateways to segment traffic and isolate IoT devices from attack.