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How the Internet of Things will Transform Your Enterprise Security

Randy RayessRandy Rayess

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a reality now, and so are the enterprise security concerns around it. Technology firms are linking almost all ‘things’ physical – cars, smartphones, household appliances, and more – to the internet in a bid to improve intercommunication and enable machine-to-machine (M2M) data transfer. In fact, our world is set to be hosting 50 billion connected things by 2020! However, like all emerging IT trends, it comes with its own share of security challenges for the enterprises.


Shifts in Managing Enterprise Security

The ‘industrial internet’ might sound like a fun term but adding new devices to the enterprise network means opening the gates to serious security loopholes. That’s why enterprises looking to explore new avenues with Internet of Things will need to think beyond traditional methods of enterprise security management. The Internet of Things will transform enterprise security in five ways:

  1. Enterprise security in the world of IoT will be multi-layered. This means managing secure interaction from the point of inducing power to throughout the device lifecycle. IT heads may begin with ensuring a secure bootup process. Their teams will need to verify the software authenticity within every device on the network using cryptographically designed digital signatures. This establishes a foundation of trust, but there will still be several run-time malware and threats to combat. For instance, in-session threats like resources accessed by a device will continue to exist.Controlling the traffic terminating at a device will be equally important and mere firewall or deep packet inspection capabilities won’t be enough. Enterprises will have to look for solutions capable of guarding data gateways in IoT devices using tailored protocol filters and policy capabilities. Besides, regular security updates and patches will become integral to product lifecycle to eliminate every possibility of a compromise.
  2. Predictive security practices will take precedence over mere monitoring processes. IT administrators will need to monitor and understand traffic, incidents of spot data extrusion or any such intrusions quickly. Real-time prevention is the key to uprooting suspicious activity. Security analytics will get more sophisticated with endpoint data analysis and reports. Symantec is currently developing an analytics system which will detect behavior patterns on an IoT device, and signal admin in case of stealth attacks. This data will be routed to an analytics engine through SDN and overlay management networks.
  3. Enterprises will need to develop strong device identification and authentication processes. IoT devices rely on machine to machine communication. Securing the Internet of Things hardware comes as a natural concern when one thinks about the mostly unmonitored, massive data exchange that is happening here.In the IoT world, each network device within the enterprise security firewall will need to identify itself to the network using a certain authentication type to establish trust. Enterprises will find a way to efficiently capture, analyze and store various details about device type, activity, location etc. They will also need to master ways to detect devices that have been tampered with. Devices will be equipped with a security feature which will detect and alert the admin in case the seal or enclosure of the device is broken.Thanks to the growing security challenges, CISOs will be able to successfully steer business attention towards hardware security and exploit present-day innovation around trusted execution environments (TEE). These are safe zones that ensure that sensitive data is stored, processed and protected in an isolated, trusted environment. The TEE as a product is being designed by chip manufacturers such as ARM right now. It features independent processing units that are inaccessible by the OS, super user or rootkit. This can help enterprises combat significant object-level threats like unauthorized firmware updates, device cloning, and object impersonation.
  4. CISOs will need to deploy improved cloud security in partnership with their cloud vendors. On-site data storage and the corresponding security limitations cannot keep up with the rise of the connected devices universe. Cloud will be the most proven, cost-effective way to handle such traffic volumes. Storage repositories, thus, will need to be moved to the cloud.The Cloud Control Matrix (CCM), could prove a valuable tool for enterprises in assessing risks associated with a cloud provider. This is essentially a set of security controls proposed by CSA. It lists several security controls mapped with industry-wide security standards. CISOs will finally exploit Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems to collect system data in real time and generate reports to identify  possible security threats. This will promote real-time threat prevention in the cloud environment.
  5. Enterprises will lay down special focus on data exchange checkpoints. Internet of Things devices exchange data at various ‘checkpoints’ on a connected network. These data points may not amount to much individually, but when weighed in with relation to time or location, they can reveal a great deal of personal information. Let’s consider a scenario where you own a connected refrigerator that keeps stock of the quantity and frequency of the vegetables and groceries you buy. These are insignificant details that behave like puzzle pieces falling in place when put together. Your connected refrigerator can actually help a competent data analyst dig out details like your location and significant personal information like a health issue or your religious beliefs. It is at these checkpoints, where data flows in and out of the connected network, that enterprises will need to hit the nail on the head.One way is to install a gateway, also called as a proxy or a broker, to manage all the data created and transmitted by devices on their behalf. Even identity management will become crucial. It will be important to identify the device and its owner while decoupling their individual identities. Shadowing could be a possible solution. Digital shadows enable a device to act on behalf of its owner by storing information about his/her attributes.

According to Gartner, ‘Over 20 percent of enterprises will have digital security services devoted to protecting business initiatives using devices and services in the IoT by the end of 2017.’

Will your enterprise be one of them? Let us know in the comments below.


CoFounder at VenturePact Passionate about software, marketplace startups & remote work. Previously at SilverLake Partners, Ampush and Wharton.