What’s The Future of Network-Connected Device Security?
The Future of Network-Connected Device Security
The growing number of poorly secured network-connected devices presents a serious concern for both the private and public sectors.
Unfortunately, few smart device users are aware of the severity of this problem. In the attempt of getting a better understanding of the situation, it’s imperative to learn what network-connected devices are and how they function. Which benefits do they bring to your organisation? Why should they be a concern? And, more importantly, what can we expect from the security of IoT devices and network in the coming years?
What exactly is IoT?
Prior to the proliferation of wireless functionality, office workers found themselves tethered to their workstation in order to access the internet. As wireless technology continued to advance and evolve, its far-reaching functionalities helped improve efficiency and productivity in the workplace, greatly benefiting businesses across all industries.
Wireless functionality is not without its drawbacks. Many of the smart devices that are connected to wireless networks are poorly protected, unsecured, and some of them has firmware which is rarely updated. But what does this have to do with IoT?
IoT, the Internet of Things, actually refers to the millions upon millions of devices that have the capability to wirelessly connect to any network to collect and share information. In other words, it can refer to your smartphone, GPS device, gaming systems, heart-rate monitors, your FitBit – basically, any smart device with internet or wireless connectivity.
Basically anything can be converted into a component of the IoT, as long as it can interface with the internet and be manipulated via that same connection. A lawn sprinkler system that can be turned on by simply using an app on your phone is a good example of an IoT device, so is an app-accessible security camera or a simple light bulb that you can switch on and off via smartphone or tablet.
An IoT device could be as basic as a baby monitor or a child’s toy. Or, it can be as sophisticated as an insulin pump or heart monitor where sensors are put in place to constantly track the patient’s status and feed crucial data to a cloud, which the attending physician can then easily access via a dedicated app on her smartphone.
What’s the future of IoT?
When looking at today’s internet landscape, you can see just how fast technology is evolving.
In fact, things are evolving so fast that most people are struggling to keep up – and especially with matters related to securing data, protecting databases, and strengthening the security on network-connected devices.
Before we move on to discuss the security measures your organisation can take, let’s take a quick look at a few of our predictions about the future of IoT.
By 2025, the number of IoT connected devices installed on a global scale is estimated at around 75 billion.
According to statista.com, a statistics resource website that collects data from more than 22,000 sources, there will be close to 31 billion installed IoT devices worldwide by 2020. Fast forward five years, and that number will most likely be doubled, as far as the study is concerned.
The annual worth of the IoT market is projected to be more than a billion US dollars from 2017 and beyond. Barring any global economic catastrophe or an apocalypse, the figure will just continue to grow.
Artificial Intelligence will continue to advance and become a more prominent feature in IoT devices than ever before
The driving force behind most IoT devices is AI technology. Through artificial intelligence, these IoT devices can collect useful data about the user’s habits and patterns of usage.
Let’s imagine that you normally take your black coffee at 7:30 in the morning. With a few easy settings, your smart coffee machine will record that particular pattern and start brewing a fresh pot at 7:25 – just in time for you to enjoy it before you’re off to work. When an individual sets up a voice-controlled device, they allow the IoT device to record the voice and the commands and store these in the cloud. This data is then used by the system for reference or to help facilitate another aspect of AI technology known as machine learning.
DDoS attacks will become more prevalent as a greater number of cybercriminals continue to hack into unprotected IoT devices
All the way back in 2016, the very first IoT malware was released into an unsuspecting, innocent world. Known as the Mirai malware, it was a type of virulent software classified as open source, meaning that the code could be modified by anyone with the right knowledge.
The malware gained access to the devices by using their default username and password. Out from this compromised network, the software then made a botnet to launch a DDoS attack. That attack in 2016 ended up crippling countless online businesses and even some high-security sites went offline as a result.
The hours of downtime caused a lot of people, and companies, a lot of money.
Later followed the infamous Wannacry, and we expect that the number of malware attacks to increase drastically over the next few years.
Router countermeasures will become more robust and secure
The majority of consumer-grade IoT devices are used in residences and don’t allow – or have the ability – to let the user install security software. Essentially, this means that these types of IoT devices are the most vulnerable when it comes to cyber attacks.
We believe that routers will play a significant role on securing the home or office network over the next few years. In your abode, the router is the gateway of the internet. While many IoT devices don’t have any security measures installed, the router can instead serve as blanket security. The router can – if configured correctly – protect your devices at the point of entry.
A standard router delivers a modicum of security, such as firewalls, password protection, and the option to set it up so it will only allow specific gadgets access to the network.
It’s still early days, but we’re already seeing major advancements in router security.
IoT devices and security: how do you protect your devices?
Look around you, and you’ll find a world filled to the brim with all kinds of connected devices.
Deployed in households, public facilities, government offices, and corporate ecosystems, it’s quite clear why IoT has become such a big thing in recent years. In fact, the possibilities of these devices are undeniable.
Do you know what’s also undeniable?
The threat that unsecured IoT devices pose to both individuals and organisations. Here’s a couple of key points to consider when protecting your devices and networks from potential cyberattacks.
- Manage your IoT devices more seriously and consistently
The real challenge for most companies is getting all the benefits that IoT can provide in the safest, most responsible and well-thought-out manner. The key is the proper deployment and management of the devices.
The deployment and management process must be balanced well – with a practical and centralised approach to managing all connected program endpoints. We recommend that you perform thorough research before buying or making any IoT procurement decisions. When you’re buying a security system for your office, you’re not just looking into the image quality of the cameras or the price tag. You should also check into its IoT capabilities and security.
For instance, did you know that some IoT devices stop getting automatic firmware updates when they are connected to another network? This loophole could cause a serious security breach in your company’s entire network infrastructure. Moreover, some devices even come with default settings enabled, like universal plug-and-play, which can potentially be dangerous.
So when you are making IoT procurement decisions, make sure that the devices you’re trying to get can be reconfigured to meet important policy standards before they are implemented. Just because new IoT devices are designed to connect to the internet in an instant doesn’t mean that you should right away.
The hardest aspect in managing connected IoT devices is the maintenance or the ongoing management process. Without the proper tools, the appropriate approach, and the right team of professionals, this effort can be challenging for most companies and organizations.
- Take your network security seriously
IT professionals, especially those who work in a corporate environment, have always been paranoid about what devices can connect or access their network. Considering the digital world we live in today, I dare say that this paranoia is justified.
When maintaining a secure network infrastructure, it’s good practice to create an IoT-specific network before deploying your IoT devices. This allows separate existing program devices to run smoothly without any interference from other newly connected devices. And, in a worst case scenario, attacks will be isolated to a specific network, preventing an enterprise-wide network security breach.
Having a better understanding of built-in security in connected devices and how to reconfigure default device security settings, like passwords, can be a huge help in ensuring network security. Once the native security of all connected devices are fully understood and maximized, it will be a lot easier to assess their true potential and assign the appropriate level of network access.
This will help maintain the integrity of the information sharing process.
The bottom line is that having a clear picture of which devices are connected and knowing their status is an integral part of maintaining a strong network security in 2019. Are you wondering how you can take your network-connected device security to the next level? Fill out the form on your right, and one of our security experts will be in touch with you shortly.
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