IoT Security Concerns and Increases in Internet Enabled Devices

The Internet of Things is Changing Everything

We’re connecting more of our world every day through smart, IP-enabled devices ranging from home appliances, healthcare devices, industrial equipment, and wearable technology. New IOT connected devices are offering innovative ways to share information and are changing the way we live. This ultra-connected environment of capabilities and services, with interaction amongst sensors, actuators, data controllers, and low-powered wireless radios supported by services available over the internet is what we call the Internet of Things (IoT)—and it is evolving and growing daily. As businesses including telecom companies, car manufacturers, software-as-a-service vendors and networking equipment makers connect devices at an increasingly rapid pace, they are not only offering new services, but also fundamentally changing their own industries.

Unlike many other emerging technology trends, IoT is grounded in more than just marketing hype. Its machine-to-machine (M2M) communications underpinnings are based on decades of operational technology (OT) practice found in SCADA infrastructures, while IoT monitoring has been developing across many years in retail supply-chain automation and other product-oriented industries.

The dramatic transformation from isolated systems to Internet-enabled devices that can network and communicate with each other and the cloud is generating unprecedented opportunities for new services, enhanced productivity and efficiency, improved real-time decision making and innovative user experiences. When objects can sense and communicate, it changes how and where decisions are made—and who makes them.

Location Based Sensors & Internet Enabled Devices

As IoT connects new places—such as manufacturing floors, energy grids, healthcare facilities, and transportation systems—to the Internet, devices can be controlled and monitored from anywhere. With the growth of location-based services—where sensors communicate with mobile devices to push personalized content—IoT is impacting lifestyles. With IoT, information can be turned into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and economic opportunity for businesses, governments, and people.  IoT brings together cloud, mobility, and IT/OT collaboration in new ways.

rising iot security concerns with increases in internet enabled devices

Rising I0T Security Concerns

Yet, as our connected lives grow and become richer, and as more objects become IoT enabled, iot security concerns and the need for a new security model becomes even more critical. Because devices are not only expected to talk to the Internet, but also with each other, it must be assumed that every object on the network is a potential weak point. And with devices numbering anywhere from  30 to 50 billion in the next 5-6  years, we must also assume that—because most connected device networks are mesh networks—all nodes on the network must be precluded from attacking or co-opting other devices on the same mesh.

Security must be fundamentally designed into these emerging IP enabled devices

Further, not all IoT devices have high computational power—rather, they have very little. This means that data encryption will be impossible and any type of security chosen must be extremely lightweight. With an increased amount of internet enabled devices, an increased probability of factory passwords and unpatched configurations will occur.

If security is not fundamentally designed into these ip enabled devices (e.g., secure firmware, data storage in secure areas on chips, etc.) the IoT security model must involve making the assumption that all devices are already compromised, and then working to prevent further attacks by, for example, establishing and continuously re-establishing a trusted environment and relationship between devices and the cloud. Just as IoT is creating opportunities yet to be contemplated, so should the approach to IoT security.