Internet of Things (IoT) Best Practices for Cybersecurity

It’s been long established that the Internet of Things (IoT) is a game changer in terms of smart device technology, with estimated revenue growth in the billions. But the technology also raises serious questions about security and data breaches, some that could even possibly impact shop floor machines, security systems, personal medical devices, or ever your ride!  According to the U.S. Congress IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2019, there could be “over 20 billion devices by 2020” that are IoT.  That’s a lot of exposure.  IoT  Cybersecurity practices will be critical for organizations moving forward.

Start with an Organizational Defense in Depth Security Posture

Depending on its use case, an IoT device may rely on the organization’s general network and security infrastructure to ensure devices can communicate across the internet without compromising an organization’s security posture.  Especially vulnerable are small to mid-size businesses who may not prioritize their security budgets.  But IoT needs to wrapped in defense in depth security best practices to avoid many of the pitfalls of poor IoT security as outlined in The Internet of Things (IoT) – Threats and Countermeasures, by CSO Online. That means any type of IoT initiative in health care, automotive, banking and more needs to be coordinated with a company’s overall  security practices

Securing IoT Best Practices

Underlying IoT firmware relies on best coding practices of the software developers to communicate with hardware sensor and communication links and enable secure interoperability between systems. According to Cisco, one of the problems facing IoT applications is the lack of standards and interoperability. “Despite industry analysts cautiously predicting that 2017 would be the year when standards started to really align, this was not the case. The only agreed-upon conclusion is that we are still a long way from a universal IoT standard—or even two or three IoT standards. Today’s perspective from both analysts and researchers is that this disparity is likely to continue over the next few years at the very least.”

Standards are evolving, especially across specific industries, like medical devices, that require two-factor authentication and digital certificates to ensure data communication between trusted devices.  Plus, coders developing the firmware and software of the devices have to efficiently use lighter weight software languages like Python or Raspberry Pi.  System resources may be limited as well, depending on the hardware.

Overall, code flaws could allow hackers to hijack devices and exploit organizations via ransomware and other malware attacks. According to KrebsonSecurity, “A peer-to-peer (P2P) communications technology built into millions of security cameras and other consumer electronics includes several critical security flaws that expose the devices to eavesdropping, credential theft, and remote compromise, new research has found.”

Rewards of IoT

The rewards of IoT obviously outweigh the risk, and we are sure to see more products and services around security. According to cloudcomputing-news.net, “Worldwide spending on security-related hardware, software, and services is forecast to reach $103.1 billion in 2019 — that’s an increase of 9.4 percent over 2018. The pace of growth will continue as industries invest heavily in IT security solutions to meet a wide range of cyber threats.”

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