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  • 5 Modern Security Strategies for IoT Devices

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    Image - 5 Modern Security Strategies for IoT Devices

     

    More than half a decade ago, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore published a paper predicting the pace for the digital revolution. Moore’s Law stated that computing abilities would exponentially increase in power over time while decreasing in relative cost. Along with the great deal of work computer engineers and scientists have provided, the law has fueled the rapid growth of technology.

     

    One of the top trends happening in tech today is the Internet of Things, where smart devices connected to a network communicate by sending and receiving data to execute labor-intensive tasks. These devices have brought a world of amazing conveniences in various industries since they eliminate the need for human intervention.

     

    While the technology has opened doors to a world of endless possibilities, it has also posed risks. IoT security and privacy are both causes for concern since all devices connected to a network involve the use of data points. It is therefore crucial that they are secured and protected from cybercriminals.

     

    Here are a few ways to improve your security strategies for IoT devices:

     

    1. Centralize and secure the access logs of IoT devices

    Devices connecting to the network without IT’s knowledge is one of the most basic security issues in IoT. IT managers know what’s attached to the system and the details of who’s logged in. However, the process hasn’t been scaled to address the huge volume of IoT devices that go online. This enables hackers to get into unsecured devices and launch an attack.

     

    To address vulnerabilities, access logs should be centralized, and trained security teams are tasked to recognize an attack and alert patterns on IoT endpoints. With DDoS attacks expected to increase, endpoint protection systems that can identify this kind of threat should become established.

     

    2. Use encryption to secure communications

    Current encryption practices on IoT devices are still weak and lacking in security, with only a few using encrypted communications as part of their initial configuration. Most use standard web protocols that communicate on the web via plain text. This is an easy target for hackers who are observing network traffic to spot weaknesses.

     

    Web traffic should at least use HTTPS, DNS security extensions, Secure file transfer Protocol (SFTP), transport layer security (TLS) and other secure protocols for communications across the internet. For devices that connect to mobile apps or other remote gateways, encrypted protocols should be in place. This goes the same with data stored on flash drives for protection from malware.

     

    3. Establish more effective and secure password policies

    Most devices such as home routers, network printers and sensors are devoid of strong authentication and access protocols. Unfortunately, the concept of using multi-factor authentication is rare in IoT devices, with some not even requiring any form of authentication.

     

    Change passwords to strong and unique ones that use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and, if possible, symbols. You can also use single sign on (SSO) software to manage and limit access. End users must be educated on the best practices for home modems and routers, particularly if devices are moved from home to office networks and vice versa.

     

    4. Carry out restrictive network communications policies and set up virtual LANs

    Restrictive network communications should be implemented to make sure devices are secure and have a level of invulnerability to attacks. Built-in firewall rules and more careful user or application authentication should be in place. IoT devices should not be reachable through standard TCP/IP ports, and end users shouldn’t assume enterprise firewalls can prevent them from communicating across the network or outside the internet.

     

    You can also provide better security by isolating sensors and permissive devices through a separate virtual LAN. This will prevent hackers from seeking out a compromised sensor while observing network traffic and use it to launch an attack across the whole enterprise.

     

    5. Design devices explicitly for privacy and security

    Many IoT device manufacturers do not consider incorporating a robust security feature into the design lifecycle of their products and some devices may be infected with malware along with the supply chain, due to lack of proper testing or quality controls. These are the reasons why security and user privacy need improvement in the entire supply chain, which the manufacturers can address by designing their products explicitly for privacy and security, particularly when they are sold with an online service contract that locks their customers in for long periods of time.

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    With vulnerabilities becoming a huge concern, hackers are on the move to find every opportunity to attack IoT devices and exploit data. The technology is moving at a rapid pace, so it’s high time we address these serious concerns with these effective strategies. This will allow end users to utilize their devices without worrying about their data being compromised. Security is now of the highest priority and manufacturers are now tasked to improve the technology so their devices can provide a safe environment for their use.

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