The world has evolved into a giant sphere of invisible connections. The advent of the Internet enabled people to interact with each other remotely within seconds, even if they are miles apart. The Internet has connected people and the things we use in our daily lives, giving rise to the Internet of Things (IoT). Today, IoT has become a part of our lives without us even noticing it. IoT is transforming both lives and businesses with a massive thrust. It is entering almost every possible field and improving both the quality and quantity of the output. A lot of companies and industries incorporate IoT for their smooth operations.
IoT is nothing more than the interconnection of physical items using software to exchange data over the internet and conduct activities remotely. Increased usage of IoT also brings an increased set of risks for a business. IoT handles data that might be pretty sensitive at times, must perform its functions without jeopardizing the security and integrity of the data and its user.
Today, we are going to learn about the security concerns of IoT and the solutions to improve it.
Security Concerns of IoT:
Before going into the security concerns of IoT, let us talk about some of its use cases. Some of the Smart IoT devices which we use in our daily lives are:
- Smart Wearables (Fitness bands and watches)
- Smart home devices (Televisions, Speakers, Lights, Security cameras, etc.)
- Healthcare systems (MRI and Insulin machines etc.)
- Agriculture (Soil and Energy Monitoring)
- Monitoring and Authorization systems (Smart Access Cards)
- Connected and Autonomous Vehicles
- Logistics and Supply Chain Management
All these devices contain and have access to a lot of information that is sensitive and private to its user.
Consider a scenario where a bank uses a smart surveillance system to monitor all its assets. If the system is compromised by an intruder, he could have access to all the bank’s assets and eventually could bring down the bank. In 2016, Mirai Botnet a malware service caught hold of an enormous number of insecure IoT devices using DDoS attacks which is the biggest in history. These attacks are the results of vulnerabilities inside a system. According to ARM, a leading semiconductor design company, vulnerabilities in an IoT system with possible attacks could be classified as follows:
As IoT systems are not secure by default, we must reinforce it by adding an extra level of protection to avoid unexpected attacks and keep devices updated without enabling vulnerabilities. The following are the top 8 Security solutions that could be implemented in an IoT System:
Secure IoT Network:
There is a need to maintain a secure network among the IoT devices and back-end servers to avoid unauthorized access. It can be done using firewalls, anti-intrusion systems, and anti-malware services.
Using methods like 2-factor authentication, digital biometrics, PKI security methods, etc., enhances the security and allows management of more than one user for a particular device. Without secure authentication methods, devices could be easily compromised.
Sometimes hackers could hijack into the network and access the data which is being shared among various devices. In that case, encrypting the data could lower the risk as it hides the primary information from hackers.
Enable Security Analytics:
Analyzing the behavior and usage of devices could help you understand how secure they are and identify immediately if they are compromised. Automatic security analysis tools could warn you way before an attack and safeguards your privacy.
Keeping devices updated with the latest security patches and updates could fix few known vulnerabilities and keep attackers away from your devices. It should be done as a part of the product’s lifecycle management. Allowing automatic updates of devices in the background would not disrupt their regular operation.
Use secure APIs:
Secure APIs could enable data exchange among devices, applications, and servers to be secure and efficient. Using REST APIs allows efficient handling of requests from multiple devices and returns the data with very low latency.
Edge Level Processing:
Handling most of the operations at the device level could reduce the dependency on cloud-level handling and exchange of data. It could drastically improve overall data security, reduces latency, and enhances user privacy.
Robust Testing and Development:
Manufacturers and developers need to maintain a robust testing environment to test their devices and services against known threats and user conditions. Preliminary testing and rushing to launch the devices could lead to the failure of systems and end up losing a lot of data to hackers.
IoT Service providers:
Most firms find it challenging to build an IoT infrastructure from the ground up. Building such a comprehensive environment takes a significant amount of effort and money. Keeping this in mind, prominent cloud providers like AWS and Microsoft Azure have created IoT services that are fully scalable, secure, managed, and have the potential to function at the edge.
AWS provides services like:
AWS FreeRTOS and AWS IoT Greengrass, for deploying applications at the edge and connect to the cloud securely.
IoT Core, Device Management, and Device Defender to control, manage and safeguard devices.
AWS IoT Analytics analyzes the data and provides you with vital information regarding the devices.
On the other hand, Microsoft’s Azure platform provides services like,
Azure IoT Hub, which offers secure and reliable connectivity for devices.
Azure IoT Central to provide user-ready templates to deploy on devices.
Azure sphere and IoT edge to enable edge computational capabilities with built-in security.
Windows IoT and Azure RTOS platforms to deploy applications.
Apart from these, Google provides Cloud IoT Core, a fully managed service to manage, control, and secure devices on a large scale. All the benefits mentioned above provide vital IoT solutions which are scalable, reliable, and fully managed with a reasonable cost to pay.
Here is an interesting case study about AWS IoT Core Setup for a client –VENLITE ENERGY LIMITED which is an Energy and Asset Management company with a global audience footprint across all platforms. With Cutting Edge Technology, Venlite delivers quality and service that is highly engaged across a variety of devices and modules. Software from customizable energy meters, to Asset Management and Cloud Monitoring systems, the company offers next-generation Energy and Asset Management Systems that are simple, intuitive, and user friendly. The company has multiple IoT devices which are sending data continuously (2-3 times in a minute). That data is in hexadecimal format. So, the company wanted CloudThat to help decode the data and then store that into AWS Database (Document DB).
Read more about AWS IoT Core setup here.
Although IoT security problems exist, they can be managed and eradicated by following best practices such as adopting a secure development platform and continues testing. For developers and manufacturers, using managed services may be a preferable option as it allows them to focus more on their applications. Furthermore, big players in the cloud sector, such as AWS and Azure, offer a wide range of IoT services for various application levels. Utilizing such services could save the pockets of manufacturers as well as the end-users.