Beating the Security Challenges in IoT Solution Development

Do you think IoT application development is all about connecting devices on a network? While this might be an important piece of the puzzle, there are many more pieces, most of them moving. We have to consider communication mediums and networking channels, the application development framework, the data analytics angle, databases, data encryption, etc. However, one of the most critical pieces of this puzzle is that of security.

We are witnessing the growing maturity of the IoT market. The number of connected devices is increasing at a breakneck pace and IoT is becoming more relevant as a foundation for technologies such as AI. Organizations, realizing the potential of IoT, are moving towards IoT solution development to capitalize on the trend.

However, a 2017 Cisco survey reveals that only 26% of companies are successful with their IoT initiatives. While improper integration and a lack of expertise are often to blame, 47% of IoT developers find security to be a key concern.

So, what are the security challenges that you must beat?

Data Security

IoT applications involve large volumes of data traveling over a network of connected devices. This data is all “out there” and hence becomes vulnerable to hackers and cyber-attacks. Developers must pay close attention to how the data transfer is happening between the devices and sensors to the platform or gateway and then how it is getting stored in the cloud. Ensuring data exchange security and the right encryption protocols when the data is in transit and at rest becomes of paramount importance to overcome the data security challenge.

Employing practices such as Transport Layer Security (TLS) to securely transfer data over the network by encrypting it helps. Developers can increase security by ensuring that the IoT application encrypts the data exchanges.

Network Security

The IoT network is another point that can prove the security Achilles heel. Since IoT devices are connected to back-end systems which are connected to the internet, it becomes critical to ensure that this network is highly secured and protected. Employing end-point security features such as intrusion prevention, anti-virus, and anti-malware, updated firewalls, etc. are just the tip of the iceberg.

With 5G becoming the new norm, developers have to anticipate threats and build security features to make their designs robust and reliable in an environment of wider bandwidth and reduced latency. While established network security practices work well in the 5G environment as well, the  European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) states that vulnerability in 5G networks might emerge also due to current signaling protocols (SS7) that have been developed keeping 2G, 3G, and 4G networks in mind. It thus makes sense to update and secure these protocols to improve the security of the 5G network.

Robust Device Authentication

The entire device landscape is almost like a buffet of points of failure within the IoT system. Focusing and ensuring robust device authentication protocols thus becomes essential for ensuring the security of IoT solutions.

Establishing the correct access protocols to ensure device identity before the device can access gateways and upstream services access gateways and upstream services becomes key. Robust password authentication processes are also essential to ensure that security is never compromised.

Employing an IoT platform that has default security protocols in place is a good starting point to resolve such issues.

Data Storage Security

While it is important to ensure that the data is secure when in transit, we must also be attentive about ensuring that the data is processed and stored securely. To enable this, it makes sense to redact and anonymize sensitive data before it is stored. Alternatively, employing data separation to decouple personally identifiable information from IoT data payloads also ensures data security and integrity is maintained. The use of digital signatures or using checksums also makes sure that the data is not tampered with or modified. Many of these techniques have been in use for a while now. The need is to ensure their concerted and coordinated application.

It also is imperative to use IoT security analytics to dramatically reduce vulnerabilities and security threats in today’s environment. IoT security analytics collects, correlates, and analyses data from multiple sources to proactively identify potential threats.

Employing multi-dimensional security analytics, apart from monitoring IoT gateways is also a great way to identify malicious anomalies by correlating data from different domains. This helps the security experts connect the dots and correct these anomalies and prevent any impact on the IoT devices and applications.

Cross-Platform Compatibility

Future-proofing solutions is key to remaining relevant in an environment driven by technological change. IoT solutions are no different. Development teams thus have to concentrate on ensuring that security is never compromised for performance while dealing with performance dampeners such as device updates, bug fixes, and heavy OS demands. Using the right SDK’s and API’s to add new functionalities to their developed IoT solutions becomes imperative. It is also essential to ensure web and mobile compatibility since IoT devices run on both.

Ensuring the IoT solutions integrate seamlessly into legacy systems is also a key point to consider while looking at the security landscape to remain compliant with industry standards and protocols.

Usually, device security is the most common topic of discussion when it comes to navigating the security minefield in IoT application and solution development. However, along with devices we have to look at the other components that make up the solution. With the growing maturity of the enterprise IoT market, having a security focus can serve as a key differentiator in the face of growing competition.

Leave a Reply