5 Reasons Why We Should Not Be Scared of IoT Security

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been revolutionizing industries and is continuing to grow at an exponential rate. With all the interconnectivity, security is naturally a growing concern. Will the personal information stored on your Apple Watch get hacked? What about the bank information you have stored in a digital wallet? Hackers are smart. They are constantly looking for new ways to infiltrate networks and commit fraud against unassuming internet users.

While end users of IoT devices want to know why they should feel safe using IoT devices, it is important for developers and engineers that design these products to understand how to design and develop secure IoT devices that meet consumer demands. In this piece, we’ll dive into some reasons consumers can feel reassured about IoT security and provide some pro-tips to developers and engineers to enable them to create more secure IoT devices.

Example devices of Internet of Things

 

Protection against Cybercrime

Protection against cybercrime is at the core of IoT security. Cybersecurity is a constant game of cat and mouse where device architects and hackers seek to one-up each other. Savvy consumers want to know their devices are secure and modern security protocols and standards are being implemented on their devices. Secure access methods like HTTPS & SSH and compliance with standards help win consumer trust.

What can IoT developers do to protect against cybercrime?

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, there are a number of practices that can help improve the security of IoT devices and meet market demands. These include:

  • Enforce secure password policies by default. Insecure passwords are low-hanging fruit for hackers. When possible, create devices that prompt or force the user to create a secure password and encourage your users to never use default passwords in production environments.
  • Enable the use of secure network communications. Network connectivity is at the heart of IoT. However, the network is also an exposed medium for malicious attackers to attempt to compromise devices. Only use encrypted network communications protocols like HTTPS and SSH whenever possible.
  • Built-in firewalls & intrusion detection. IoT devices are prime targets for attackers. For this reason, IoT developers now need to begin to implement more robust software security measures. Embedded firewalls can restrict access to only allow specific network ports and protocols and intrusion detection can help identify anomalous behavior and flag threats.
  • Use a secure boot. The secure boot process is vital to optimizing the security of an embedded device. Secure boot ensures that a given piece of hardware only authenticates code that was created using a specific set of credentials. This prevents hackers from installing a different operating system on an embedded system and using that to compromise user data.

Remember, IoT devices are effectively embedded devices that are network enabled. This means that following embedded device security best practices can go a long way in making your IoT product robust and secure.

There Is a Regulatory Baseline for Security

industry-accepted standards exists yet, Congress has set forth rules and regulations to keep the IoT in check. The IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act has introduced in 2017 as well as the Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things Act. The latter still has to be approved by the House.

This being said, it’s a known fact that connected devices and the IoT are not leaving any time soon. The world of “smart” and intelligent computing is here to stay, and if it’s going to open so many up to vulnerability, it may as well be regulated.

In 2018, Congress passed the State of Modern Application, Research, and Trends of IoT Act, which requests the Department of Commerce to study the IoT industry and recommend ways to promote the secure growth of IoT products and devices.

In September 2018, California enacted a law that calls for IoT devices sold in the country to come with security requirements.

How can IoT developers ensure they meet industry and regulatory standards?

Staying abreast of the latest developments in legislation related to IoT is vital to remaining competitive. The industry is growing rapidly and data privacy and security laws are struggling to keep up. This creates an environment where the legal and regulatory aspects of IoT can change quickly. For this reason, it is important for developers of IoT devices to stay up to date with the latest on IoT legislation and remain ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing best practices. To that end, you can start by familiarizing yourself with the State Of Modern Application, Research, And Trends Of IoT Act to see where legislators are headed.

Continuous Software Updates

End users understand that vulnerabilities arise and security patches and firmware updates are a part of using smart devices. In fact, organizations that release patches to vulnerabilities are generally viewed more positively than those that do not from a security perspective. Updates are generally released for products to implement new features, fix bugs uncovered by debugging or user reports, and/or to address security vulnerabilities.

How can IoT developers develop sound software update processes?
Whenever practical, offer to automate the update process for users. Automatic patches are more likely to be promptly applied. When users opt-out of automatic updates or if they are otherwise impractical, make sure to have a well-defined means of informing users of your latest updates.

Growing Consumer Knowledge

Popularity usually spikes research or at least some quest for knowledge about certain things. When it comes to the cloud, people want to know: where does my information go? Why is it stored in a “cloud?” Is it easier for hackers to get my personal information in the cloud? This has an upside as the more knowledgeable people are about the cloud and IoT security, the stronger their tendency to keep their commonly used IoT devices updated for fear that they might get hacked.

How can IoT developers and engineers benefit from growing consumer knowledge?

By taking security seriously, writing good documentation, and enabling easy patching of security vulnerabilities. As mentioned previously, people expect to patch or update smart devices. To ensure you are viewed as a company that values the security of your customers and takes IoT security seriously, your documentation and patch processes need to be user-friendly and coherent.

At best, users will find convoluted or unclear patch processes and documentation difficult to follow, at worst they will lead to those patches being overlooked and lead to security vulnerabilities. In either case, the reputation of the device manufacturer can be damaged. As mentioned above, if you can automate patch processes for the user, this is even better as it shifts the burden off of them and makes the process seamless.

Cybersecurity Is a Top Priority for Organizations

Before everything was connected and not every industry was finding ways to adapt their business method and make it connected, cybersecurity was not at the forefront of many manufacturers’ minds. They wanted to sell products. Now, 55 percent of organizations rank IoT security as a top priority. They know that if their customers feel safe using their products, devices, or services, that they will retain those customers while gaining new ones.

How can IoT developers prioritize IoT security?

One of the most important ways of prioritizing IoT security is to have stringent test methods that emphasize security before releasing a new product or patch to production. Additionally, making sure that your products only use signed drivers is an excellent way to help demonstrate your dedication to security. Further, if your digital signature is ever compromised, be sure to inform your users immediately and update your digital signature.

Conclusion: IoT Can Be Becure

While the idea of storing all your personal information in connected devices might seem like a scary idea for some consumers, the security practices developers are putting into place help make for a safe cloud network. It’s nice to be able to rely on your devices having built-in security features or reminding you to update your system, but you must stay on top of those updates and ensure that your software is functioning properly.

To ensure a safe and connected future, IoT security must be taken seriously by both the manufacturer and the end-user. If you are an IoT engineer or developer looking for industry-leading tools to aid in the design, monitoring, or debugging of embedded systems, check out our product offering today! You can also request a demo that is specific for your application.

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