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IoT Security Challenges

IoT device security is an integral part of digital transformation and process automation.

IoT Security Challenges

IoT device security is an integral part of digital transformation and process automation.

Why Is IoT Security Important?

Industrial and critical infrastructure operators are moving quickly to capture the benefits of process automation – by deploying billions of IoT devices. To protect the organization’s physical and business-critical processes, a concise IoT security strategy is also necessary.

Internet of things devices simply expand the attack surface and increase the risk of becoming a victim. From thermostats, refrigeration and HVAC [air conditioning] systems to a wide range of sensors, cameras, and process controllers, IoT security challenges lie everywhere.

IoT endpoints and systems have become trendy targets for attackers who want to compromise industrial control processes, and maximize the economic benefits of a cyberattack. The impact on large industrial environments can be particularly devastating.

What Makes IoT Security So Challenging?

The widespread use of internet of things devices creates unique IoT security challenges for traditional operational technology (OT), IT and cloud networks. Here’s why.

Built-in IoT Device Security is Minimal

IoT devices tend to have lightweight, stripped-down operating systems that lack the common security features of more robust assets.

Once Deployed, Most IoT Devices are Rarely Updated

This is particularly true of firmware, where many of the vulnerabilities lie. IoT devices may remain vulnerable to attacks that can easily be managed for other types of devices.

Connected IoT Environments Serve as Entry Points

IoT environments are frequently connected to business applications, data centers or IT infrastructure, and the cloud. That makes simple IoT devices easy targets for hackers to use for entry to the rest of the network.

Large Scale IoT Deployments are Harder to Segment

Large scale IoT deployments don’t easily lend themselves to the level of network segmentation needed to mitigate cyber threats, or prevent the spread of malware.

How To Reduce IoT Security Challenges

Surging IoT usage is expanding the attack surface, along with the number of devices and data that needs monitoring. To improve IoT cybersecurity, it helps to start with the assumption that:

  • IoT devices are inherently insecure.
  • Each device is a vulnerable entry point into the larger network and business processes.

The key to improved IoT security lies in limiting the connectivity of IoT devices and networks to the business network. Then, if an IoT device or IoT network is compromised, damage can be contained. OT networks use the Purdue model to segment the network and processes into zones. Similarly, IoT networks should enforce policies designed to limit the spread of attacks.

Understanding the vulnerabilities of IoT devices on your network is also crucial. You need to know which IoT assets have known or published vulnerabilities, and which ones can be patched or upgraded.

Monitoring network traffic for anomalies against learned behavior and traffic patterns is another important component of IoT security. Deep insight into individual devices, expected behavior and established baselines can be used to help identify malicious events and zero-day attacks.

Choosing the Best IoT Cybersecurity Solution

When choosing an industrial IoT security solution to help manage operational assets and vulnerabilities, along with threats and remediation efforts, look for the following criteria:

Industrial IoT security challenges

A security platform that was designed with large industrial IoT environments in mind.

The ability to protect large industrial IoT environments containing thousands of IoT devices across multiple sites and remote locations is critical.

So are Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML)-based asset management and threat detection capabilities. These will help you prioritize issues against large traffic patterns, whether at the edge of the network (where the “things” are), or towards the data center and cloud network.

A security platform that provides detailed insight into IoT devices and industrial processes.

Deep insight is needed to identify anomalous activity patterns that could indicate an IoT cyber threat or intrusion.

The ability to quickly identify vulnerabilities in specific IoT endpoints and correlate asset visibility with known vulnerability databases simplifies the management of security issues. It also helps prioritize remediation efforts.

IoT security challenges for industrial IoT devices and processes

How the Nozomi Networks Cybersecurity Platform Helps You Close IoT Security Gaps

Vantage

The Vantage software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform leverages the power and simplicity of the cloud to deliver unmatched security and visibility across your OT, IoT, and IT networks. It was specifically designed to scale across multiple sites containing a large number of IoT devices.

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IoT Asset Discovery

The Nozomi Networks security solution helps you identify all communicating assets on your networks. It incorporates extensive asset information including name, IP and MAC address, type, serial number, firmware version and components.

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IoT asset discovery
IoT Vulnerability Assessment

IoT Vulnerability Assessment

The Nozomi Networks security solution helps you detect vulnerable OT and IoT assets to prioritize remediation. It utilizes the U.S. government’s National Vulnerability Database (NVD) for standardized naming, description and scoring.

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IoT Threat and Anomaly Detection

The Nozomi Networks solution helps you identify IoT cybersecurity and process reliability threats. It integrates comprehensive threat and risk monitoring from behavior-based anomaly detection and signature-based threat detection.

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IoT security challenges, threat and anomaly detection
Smart polling IoT asset discovery and intelligence

Smart Polling

Nozomi Networks Smart Polling software uses a powerful combination of active and passive asset discovery for enhanced IoT device tracking, vulnerability assessment and security monitoring. Its strategies cover typical IoT protocols as well as a wide range of OT devices.

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IoT Insecurity: Hacking a Fish Tank To Access An Enterprise Database

In 2017, attackers used a fish tank thermometer that was connected to the internet to hack into a casino’s network.

Fish tank thermostats are thought of as innocuous computer-controlled devices that automated maintenance and feeding. Even though they contained no sensitive data, they are likely open to WiFi connectivity. In this case, threat actors were able to pull the casino’s database of high-rollers across the network and extract it through the thermostat. Ultimately, the IoT device acted as a gateway to the rest of the datacenter, which contained sensitive personal and financial data and applications.

There are many examples of IoT devices being used to gain access to operational networks – including security cameras, bar code scanners and environmental sensors. For more, take a look at our latest white paper The S3CUREC4M Project: Vulnerability Research in Modern IP Video Surveillance Technologies, and OT/IoT Security Report.

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  • Discover all OT, IoT/IIoT, ICS, IT, edge, and cloud assets on your networks
  • Gain immediate awareness of cyber threats, risks and anomalies
  • Detect incidents and respond quickly
  • Consolidate security, visibility and management within a single platform
  • Improve operational resilience with scalable protection across your entire operation

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