IoT cybersecurity is a major concern for industrial companies when it comes to IoT projects or roll-outs. This is understandable.
Companies are already vulnerable to cybersecurity threats that could cause irreparable harm. It isn’t just an economic problem. Cyberattacks on critical industrial areas like water, electricity, and gas can have severe repercussions that impact society. These companies also use IoT to digitalize their operations, which can lead to an increase in attack vectors. When we talk about IoT cybersecurity, it is important to consider cybersecurity across your entire value chain. First, you need to understand the IoT value chain.
What is IoT Cybersecurity?
IoT (Internet of Things) refers to the idea of connecting objects and devices of any type over the internet. In order to communicate with other connected devices and machines, more and more objects and systems are being embedded with network connectivity.
With an internet connection, anyone can buy any product, from cars to refrigerators. The ability to expand our network capabilities into all areas of our lives can help us be more efficient, save time, and make our digital lives easier whenever we need them.
The IoT value chains are far from being standardized across the industry. Because the IoT market is still in its infancy, there has not been any consensus on the subject. There is however some agreement on three aspects of IoT’s value chain.
Edge and Local Plane
This level is closest to the physical world. It’s the “T” in IoT. This includes actuators and sensors that interact with the world, gateways, hubs, and other IoT nodes, as well as actuators and sensors that communicate with them. The term “edge” may not be understood in all industries. This is especially true in telecommunications where the “edge”, which literally refers to the edge of a network, is not a local element.
This is the “highway” that connects data from one plane to another and vice versa. It unites the physical and digital worlds of the internet.
Remote Plane or Cloud
It is what makes IoT’s “I” meaningful. It processes and uses the data it collects. It is common for some processing and intelligence to take place at the edge, also known as Edge Computing. The IoT cloud is a collection of servers, databases, and remote analytics and visualization platforms that help data make sense and be valued. It is often the first interface to communicate with humans about these data.
Internet of Things cybersecurity includes security at all three levels. They all are vital to protect the integrity of data exchanged as well as the remote and local systems.
Traditionally, both cloud elements and communications networks are larger and more secure than their counterparts. This is why IoT devices are the most targeted targets for cyberattacks and security threats.
IoT Devices: The weakest link in the security chain
The IoT device represents the most critical element in the security chain. This is due to a lack of firmware updates.
We are used to being notified of updates, security patches, and new versions as we use older PCs and mobile telephony. It keeps our phones and laptops current and protected from new threats that come on the market. This is not the norm in the IoT world.
Most IoT devices are not updated after they have been deployed. This greatly increases the risk of becoming a victim of a cyberattack.
IoT devices that aren’t being updated as quickly as computers and phones are due to two factors: complexity and immaturity.
IIoT Market Immaturity
IoT is in its “adolescence” phase, which means cybersecurity is no longer a priority. When we combine all the requirements that a company has to make an IoT project a Maslow pyramid, cybersecurity is not considered a priority. This is exactly where the problem lies. Rather than working on the project from the beginning, worrying about IoT Cyber Security can get in the way.
It is also difficult to manage a distributed, remote, and highly heterogeneous environment.
IoT’s very existence is dependent on the existence of many distributed “things.” A secure remote management system is essential to ensure that these devices are updated in a timely and efficient manner. Without this, major projects would be unviable due to the high cost of updating IoT devices at a local level. The lack of standards (de facto or de iure) in IoT device development can be added to complicate management. It is up to each vendor whether they will respond to this requirement.
How to make IoT devices cyber secure
There is no way to be 100% cyber-secure, and IoT devices certainly aren’t. Here are the keys to ensuring that they are secure:
- IoT cyber security solutions should include security from the start. Security must be considered from the beginning and not as an optional or additional function that can later be added.
- You can ensure complete control of the device’s life cycle. You can update all IoT devices quickly and efficiently, and you can manage their operation at all times.
- Professional support is a must. You need someone who is able to generate security patches with enough consistency to ensure IoT devices remain protected at all times. It is not uncommon to find free software that no one officially maintains. This makes it difficult or prohibitively expensive to ensure IoT devices are fully protected.
These three principles are the best ways to protect data and computers. Every digitalization project in industrial settings must consider cybersecurity as a key pillar.