We witnessed three major industrial revolutions in the last three centuries of our race. The first one started off with the extraction of coal and the invention of the steam engine. The advancements in science and the introduction of automated assembly lines highlighted the second revolution. Finally, the third revolution was in full swing with the developments in computer technologies and the creation of the internet. Now in the digital era of the 21st century, we are on the verge of the fourth industrial revolution, and one of its core technologies is the internet of things (IoT).
The introduction of IoT devices was the juncture where the virtual and physical worlds met. Even with the global chip shortage and the impact of Covid-19 on supply chains, there were more than 12 billion active endpoints in 2021. However, without the proper security infrastructure, an IoT-enabled device connected to a business network is a huge security gap in an otherwise secure business network.
The IoT Threat Landscape
Every industry and business, from construction sites and IT firms to healthcare centers and hospitals, has deployed a swarm of IoT-enabled devices in their networks. Unfortunately, more endpoints connected means more endpoints to be secured. Surprisingly, even with this threat looming over them, most IoT devices are overwhelmingly easy to infiltrate. Appliance makers use hard-coded passwords and encryption keys to ease production with little consideration for security. Furthermore, these manufacturers create backdoor access for support and maintenance and rarely consider the need for regular patches and updates. When each device in your network is connected to another device, a vulnerability in one of those devices becomes a threat to the entire network. In 2018, hackers were able to steal a casino's database information just through a smart thermometer. Back in 2016, The Mirai Botnet assault was the world's first IoT attack. It remains the most massive DDoS assault ever conducted to this day and is a clear indication of what these devices are capable of.
Securing The Enterprise IoT Network
When integrating IoT devices into your business network, cybersecurity must be a priority. Even before deployment, ensure you choose a well-established and reliable vendor. Furthermore, make sure the vendors will provide regular updates and patches to the system to counter any security flaws that may appear.
Inherent security systems are a fundamental requirement, but cybersecurity never ends with installing a pre-packaged firewall; it requires a proper infrastructure to identify, manage and protect your endpoints. The first step is to know the unknown. There will be hundreds or thousands of IoT devices deployed throughout a network. Take stock and identify all these devices. A solution for identity and access management (IAM) will aid inventory management, allowing enterprises to track which IoT devices are active and when they move online and offline. The next step is to manage and secure the devices efficiently. The prime candidate for the task is a unified endpoint management (UEM) solution that supports multiple operating systems, platforms, and endpoints. UEMs will manage and offer insight over devices, users, apps, networks, settings, location, and operational conditions from a single console. Additionally, compromised endpoint devices can be remotely removed, and the network can be secured before the harm becomes too big.
Multiple tools will always be needed to target specific sections of the security landscape, but we could take it further by implementing a synergic structure of solutions. This is where a concept of cybersecurity called zero trust comes into play. Zero trust is not an application or product, but rather, it is a security architecture. Essentially, once set up, it operates on the idea that no endpoint in a business network can be trusted outright without regular authentication. It is implemented by using a combination of IAM, UEM, cloud security solutions, zero-trust network access solutions, etc. The notion of "never trust, always verify" is at the heart of this strategy. Enforcing zero trust necessitates the verification of anything and everything that attempts to connect to the company network before providing access. Even after granting access, the system continuously evaluates the connection during the duration of the session.
To keep your device network even more flexible and secure, firms can execute the principle of secure access service edge or SASE. Coined by Gartner, The SASE model was developed as a comprehensive framework bringing together edge capabilities and security right at your doorstep through a cloud-based system. When you connect an IoT device to your network, you can see it in your administration panel. This allows IT to implement identity-based access policies, limiting how much of the network is available to these endpoints.
Although robust applications and services help us navigate the dangerous waters of cyberspace, more often than not, the error lies in human hands. The Mirai Botnet attack of 2016 is a prime example of human error causing millions of dollars of damage. To overcome this hurdle, we must make security an essential component of our work culture. Security is a way of life, and the workforce must be a part of it. However, the sad reality is that there are always chances for attacks even after making your network as tight-knit as possible. That being said, adding an IoT-capable device to your network and then leaving it there is the equivalent of building a gateway and not locking it with a gate. The evolution of highly intelligent AIs and the rise of super-fast telecommunication technologies like 5G are spearheading the already exponential growth of IoT. The number of globally active IoT devices is expected to reach more than 30 billion by 2025. With so many devices being deployed yearly, security is more pivotal than ever.