The burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT) industry is revolutionizing standard devices and services into high-functioning, multidimensional tools through IoT network connectivity. With this rapidly expanding level of connectivity, network security is becoming an increasingly prevalent matter to address as all network-powered assets expose transferred, sensitive data to the potential risk of becoming compromised through security breaches. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, 1,293 IoT network security breaches were reported in 2017, and the businesses that deploy these devices and services are held responsible for keeping the associated information and data secure.
In the context of IoT deployment, security means ensuring that only authorized users have access to the protected data that is transmitted to and from IoT devices. Proper security prevents unauthorized parties from tampering with any private information about individuals and businesses, such as personal identification information, credit card and financial information, intellectual property, customer data, and any other private resources.
Why Network Security for IoT Matters
In the past, network tampering and cybercrime has caused a range of adverse effects for both businesses and individuals, including financial loss, theft of physical, monetary or intellectual property, loss of privacy, damage caused by leaked information, and compromises to the credibility of a business. As covered by U.S. News, cybercrime has even taken down large sections of the electrical grid in Ukraine, leaving populations without power and, therefore, at high risk of hard-to-trace bodily injury and physical crime.
Network security is important to keep users and their private information protected from cyber threat and harm that leads to these adverse effects. In May 2018, the European Union implemented a uniform set of privacy regulations in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to increase the accountability for network security among network-based businesses and help users better understand their rights to privacy. Many internet-based companies outside the EU are following suit by updating their security practices to align with a worldwide goal of increasing network security for an expanding number of connected devices.
There always will be a potential for security breaches to occur since new ways around network security protocols constantly are being discovered, and more opportunities arise with each added connected device that sends, receives, analyzes, and stores personal data. An ongoing and highly-maintained security system is therefore required to safeguard the personal data and privacy of users and businesses as they continue to embrace the boundless opportunities that network access and connected IoT devices can provide.
Encoding Network Security into the Design: Consider Objectives
The most substantial way to ensure network security is to intentionally incorporate privacy measures into the design of each IoT product and service. Integrating security as part of the technology design can secure transmitted data against known risks of unauthorized access, deletion, alteration, or loss of availability. Several essential security objectives should be defined and incorporated at the technology’s inception:
- Authenticated Sender and Receiver: Whether data is being set from machine to machine, user to machine, user to server, server to user, or server to machine, the sender and receiver need to go through an authentication process to confirm that both parties involved in transmitting data are confirmed, and that the exchange is clearly private.
- Continuous Accessibility Between Server and Receiver: Breaks in accessibility to the network mean that there is a break in the security of the connection and a potential for tampering or errors to occur. The sender and receiver always must be accessible in order for the connection to be trusted and secure, and the network connecting the devices must be reliable. Continuous accessibility is especially important in mission-critical applications, such as crash notification and medical alerts.
- Sending Data with Accuracy: IoT products should be designed to send and receive data with accuracy. If the transmitted data is inaccurate, it has the potential to be considered suspicious. A system regularly transmitting inaccurate data will likely have an inability to correctly identify and respond when actual suspicious activity occurs in the network.
- Confidentiality in the Connection: Confidentiality should be prioritized. In order to keep the information confidential, only authorized recipients should be receiving data, especially if the data is private.
Consider the Applications of Use
Along with considering security objectives, the functionality of the product or service will inform which type of security measures should be prioritized. For example, IoT products created to track cold chain assets moving across borders through multiple networks should be designed to seamlessly undergo regular authentication as the device connects and disconnects from each network en-route.
For devices and services that are intended for significant scaling, it especially is important to ensure that any gaps in security are fully addressed in the early implementation stages. During this early stage, IoT business will want to make sure that they resolve all security gaps, big and small, to ensure that a seemingly minimal problem doesn’t escalate into a highly impactful security risk as the technology expands in the scaling phase of deployment. Furthermore, all IoT technology should be designed to allow for regular security auditing.
Outside of the IoT technology’s design, there are several foundational security mechanism and methods that should be leveraged to ensure network security. Physical access security, such as encryption, user training that instructs access holders how to best protect their data, auditing that regularly checks for breach of security opportunities, and regular software updates that fix gaps in security on an ongoing basis, are all essential measures to ensure privacy after deployment.
At Aeris, Security is Not an Afterthought
At Aeris, we understand that trusting the devices and services we use is the foundation for a successfully connected world through IoT. Because security and the privacy of our users is a top concern, Aeris has developed the tools and expertise to responsibly address risks with the development of IoT applications.