Modules, Connectivity, Platforms

Security: What Are the Latest Issues and Threats?

January 11, 2023

Unlike typical cyberattacks, an Internet of Things (IoT) security breach can affect virtual and physical systems. Imagine a hacker manipulating factory equipment, health care devices or a household’s smart locks — the damage could be enormous.

As the number of IoT devices and cybercrime costs escalate, so does the necessity of robust IoT security.

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The Latest IoT Security Issues and Threats 

Emerging IoT security challenges jeopardize the sensitive data of brands and their customers. Therefore, companies must understand the new threat landscape.

Cloud and Edge Computing

The advent of cloud and edge computing has contributed to the rise of beneficial changes, like working from home. Nevertheless, most organizations don’t have the technology or practices to maintain IoT network security during and after this transition.

Edge computing could introduce several security vulnerabilities that create a larger attack surface for attackers to exploit. Data processing at the edge could accelerate data analysis and reduce latency. These results can allow edge implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) models and provide advantages for some vertical applications.

This paradigm introduces a different risk model that must be considered to mitigate risks to data integrity, confidentiality and authenticity. The security challenges could include:

  • Physical protection of the edge device
  • Authenticity of local data taken from sensors
  • Confidentiality of data collected and stored locally at the edge

Moreover, adopting a decentralized and distributed data system should emphasize secure attestation of edge computing devices with cloud computing applications. Ensuring these devices are secure would address the risk of potential counterfeits or frauds.

Increasing Complexity

People are an irreplaceable asset to any business. However, they also represent the greatest strengths and weaknesses of security and privacy in IoT.

IoT environments are becoming more interconnected and multifaceted. This complexity often means human error is the leading cause of cybersecurity breaches. A company’s IoT network security can be at risk from operators and other human actors unaware of the threat landscape.

5G Challenges for IoT Security

Although 5G will be more efficient than 4G LTE, it will bring new IoT security challenges. 5G will further widen the cybersecurity attack surface. For IoT devices specifically, these challenges relate to:

  • High densities of IoT connections
  • Higher connection bandwidth, which could facilitate distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks
  • Higher volumes of sensitive data shared between connected devices and applications to be adequately protected
  • Almost real-time latencies, which decrease the time to detect and respond to cyberattacks

There is also a considerable lack of industry foresight and standardization. Save for exceptions like the financial transaction industry, businesses must implement IoT security standards, especially for IoT solutions that leverage 5G.   

How Can Businesses Protect Their IoT Environment?

IoT security is of paramount importance for IoT environments and should be designed into the project or strategy from the beginning.

Securing IoT devices involves diligence. Businesses can protect themselves by implementing IoT security best practices to address the following areas:

  • Secure device management
  • Secure update mechanisms
  • Data privacy protection
  • Physical security hardening measures
  • Insecure IoT ecosystem interfaces

End-to-End Encryption and Network Segmentation 

IoT is becoming more commonplace in homes and workplaces. To protect data at rest and in transit, companies must employ:

  • Encryption sensitive data at rest
  • Implement strong password policies
  • Use secure protocols with strong encryption algorithms and avoid unsecure plaintext ones
  • Adopt private APN for mobile connectivity
  • Two-factor authentication for specific IoT use cases
  • Mature device management processes with trusted device identities

Businesses should also utilize network segmentation or separate networks for IoT devices and guest connections to reduce IoT-related attacks. In this context, following the principles of least privilege and defense in depth could mitigate multiple classes of cyber risks, especially in IoT ecosystems.

IoT Security by Design

A primary reason many IoT devices are vulnerable is that they aren’t secure by design. Security shouldn’t be an afterthought. A successful IoT strategy designs IoT security and industrial IoT security measures from the start.

Moreover, the security chain must start at the device (i.e., endpoint) level and should include an end-to-end security approach. This approach should also include the connectivity, communication layers and platforms. We must remember that security is as strong as the weakest link.

Vetting IoT Module Vendors  

Companies must evaluate and vet IoT module vendors to protect the sensitive data that will flow to and from IoT devices before implementing them. IoT modules are the cornerstone of IoT system security.

It is paramount for businesses to know their vendor manufactures modules with the necessary protection and measures for:

  • Firmware provisioning: Allowing only trusted and authenticated code inside the modules
  • Module identity provisioning: For device identification and authentication
  • Secure manufacturing: End-to-end security between the OEM and the manufacturing sites to manage the supply chain risk management
  • Secure manufacturer ICT processes: The adoption of cybersecurity frameworks (e.g., ISO 27001) allows the manufacturer to effectively manage the cyber risk

Connect, Manage and Secure Your IoT Deployment 

Developing an IoT solution can be complicated and intimidating. With our expertise, it doesn’t have to be.

Our IoT modules, connectivity plans and platforms are designed to optimize your total life cycle costs. We can help you simplify, scale and secure your IoT solutions today and beyond. Request a consultation to secure your IoT deployment today.