The Importance of IoT Device Security

By Diego González, sales development executive of Advantech

While it was just a few years ago that IoT devices were still finding their ground, today they are completely integrated into daily life. Many consumers find that these connected devices provide convenience and allow them to make smarter decisions. Connected refrigerators help shoppers identify exactly what groceries are needed, smart watches track health and activity levels and smart speakers answer questions and facilitate online shopping right from the comfort of the living room.

Businesses use IoT devices for a variety of assignments, including to transfer and track real-time information, provide analytics and perform automated tasks. Why have a person complete data entry, or other repetitive and time-consuming tasks when an IoT device can do it instantly with 100 percent accuracy? In fact, IoT devices have become so ubiquitous and desirable, that the market is anticipated to grow to over $2.4 trillion annually by 2027.

Perception of Security

Even though these devices receive regular use from consumers and businesses alike, there’s still skepticism surrounding their security levels. Cyber attacks are highly publicized, especially when large companies that hold important and compromising personal data are hacked. No one wants their social security number or other private, personal data floating around on the Internet. Even small insights such as shopping lists, over-the-counter medicine purchases and smart watch data needs to be protected.

Going a step further, what happens when a cyber attack allows for control of a connected car, government organization, city infrastructure or a person’s home security system? These cases wouldn’t be just pieces of data. This type of attack could affect a person’s physical well being and the safety of their family. It is incredibly important for all IoT devices, no matter their function, to be secure.

What Causes a Breach?

So, how do hackers get into these supposedly secure systems? Generally speaking, the vulnerability of cyber-attacks is found in intercepting the communication from a router or gateway. The router or gateway pushes data, which is where the insecurity occurs. An additional challenge is presented when we want connected devices to speak to each other. It would be one thing to provide security on a smart watch, but then we want that device to connect to our phone, home speaker or even a home security system. There’s a lot of sharing of information and altering that data to be compatible with every other device.

For businesses, they need each store to be able to process payment and report at the corporate level. Financial institutions need to provide secure online banking. Even renting an apartment or applying for a store’s rewards credit card requires multiple points of connection for someone’s social security number. When information is transferred or delivered, that’s when it can become exposed.

Tightening Security

IoT device manufacturers are looking at ways to prevent such breaches and encryption is one part of the solution. If the data is properly encrypted during the transfer it should protect the data. Additionally, the IoT world needs to work together toward compatible standards. IoT device manufacturers can better secure their products by collaborating with several security software companies that have years of experience and who are champions in this space. It’s important to employ the services of experts, and the collaboration of many security companies will also make it easier for devices to speak to each other and provide a more secure data transfer process.

Government regulations are another way for security to become stronger. From helping the public understand the access they are providing to their information, to setting guidelines for data usage and preventing identity theft, government regulations have an important role to play.

Finally, in order to get deeper insights into how hackers get into secure databases, it could be beneficial to hire them into our security teams. Hackers could be valuable assets to building up security walls, by employing their skills to try to hack new systems. If hackers that are part of our security teams can uncover flaws before severe breaches take place from external sources, companies will have the opportunity to deploy a solution without losing customer data and confidence.

Providing Solutions

In order to make sure its systems are secure; Advantech has already begun collaborating with its partners. It has worked with experts in the field and has created several IoT security-focused alliances with other companies. Moreover, Advantech has grown its team by adding solution architects and creating solution ready packages (SRPs). Advantech is implementing bundles for enterprises that come ready with hardware, software, sensors, sensor nodes and other important items, which are then vetted and tested by the enterprise to see if it fits their specific application. These solutions impact security, because they add different protocols of communication, while also continuing to use data encryption and improving the overall solution.

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