What Is IoT Security?

The adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) and operational technology (OT) devices has exploded in recent years. However, while networked devices can increase efficiency and visibility into an organization’s operations, they also come with significant security risks that broaden an organization’s attack surface. 

Consumer IoT devices are not known for their strong security, and long-lived OT devices may not have been designed with security in mind, introducing risk when they are connected to the network. As organizations continue to incorporate these devices into their networks, they need to balance the benefits they bring against the risks that they pose to data confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Every device deployed on the corporate network expands the organization’s digital attack surface due to possible coding flaws, access management issues, and other vulnerabilities. IoT security is essential to mitigating the risks that these devices pose to the organization.

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What Is IoT Security

Why is IoT Security Important?

Companies are increasingly taking advantage of IoT and OT devices to improve productivity and increase visibility into their operations. As a result, growing numbers of networked devices deployed on corporate networks have access to sensitive data and critical systems.

Often, these devices have security issues that make them vulnerable to attack and place the rest of the organization at risk. For example, cyber threat actors commonly target unprotected printers, smart lighting, IP cameras, and other networked devices to gain access to an organization’s network. From there, they can move laterally through the network to access more critical devices and sensitive data and create ransomware and/or double extortion cyberattacks that can render a business’ network useless.

Securing the company against cyber threats requires securing all devices connected to the corporate network. IoT security is a vital component of a corporate cybersecurity strategy because it limits the risks posed by these insecure, networked devices.

Types of IoT Security

IoT security solutions can be implemented by both device customers and manufacturers. The three types oF IoT security include:

  • Network Security: Users need to protect their devices against unauthorized access and potential exploitation. IoT network security implements a zero-trust security strategy to minimize the corporate attack surface.
  • Embedded: Nano agents provide on-device security for IoT devices. Runtime protection monitors the current state of the device and takes action based on anomalies to identify and remediate zero-day attacks.
  • Firmware Assessment: Firmware security starts with assessing the firmware of a protected IoT device. This finds potential vulnerabilities within an IoT device’s firmware.

Which Industries Need IoT Security?

Many organizations have deployed some form of IoT devices, meaning that they all are exposed to some IoT security risks. However, certain organizations are uniquely vulnerable to attack and should pay special attention to IoT security best practices. Some examples include:

  • Large Enterprises: Large organizations often have complex networks and limited visibility into the devices connected to these networks. IoT security solutions are essential to discovering unmanaged IoT devices to manage the risk that these networked devices pose to the company.
  • Industrial: OT systems are increasingly connected to corporate networks and play a vital role in operational processes. Cyberattacks against these systems could degrade productivity, or even worse, have physical effects that harm an organization’s infrastructure.
  • Healthcare: The Medical Internet of Things (IoMT) is rapidly growing as healthcare providers take advantage of networked scanners, monitoring tools, wearable devices and other network-connected systems for patient care. The sensitive data that healthcare providers hold makes them prime targets for cyber threat actors. In addition, the proper function and operation of these devices are of the utmost importance, as any manipulation of these devices (like infusion pumps, heart monitors, and more) can be fatal.
  • Device Manufacturers: Manufacturers of IoT devices need to ensure that their systems meet the business and regulatory requirements of customers. Integrating security solutions into IoT devices from the development phase can help to protect sensitive data, prevent exploitation, and meet regulatory requirements.

IoT Security Best Practices

Securing IoT devices requires securing both the devices themselves and their connections to the corporate network. Some best practices for securing networked devices include:

  • Discovery and Risk Analysis IoT Devices: Often, organizations lack visibility into the IoT devices connected to their networks because employees may connect unauthorized systems, and IoT devices may not support traditional endpoint security protections. Completing a full inventory of networked devices is essential to securing IoT systems on the corporate network. Finding a solution that can uncover all of the connection within your network within minutes should be a top priority.
  • Zero-Trust Network Access and Segmentation of the IoT Network: If IoT devices are deployed on the same network as other corporate systems, or are accessible from the Internet, then they are a potential access vector for attackers. IoT devices should be segmented from the rest of the corporate network to minimize the risk that they pose to other corporate systems. Then apply a zero trust policy to only allow normal operational access.

Patch Vulnerable Systems: Like other computers, IoT devices can have vulnerable software and firmware. Installing updates and patching vulnerabilities is essential to securing IoT and OT devices. When devices cannot be taken offline to patch them, deploy Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) to prevent network-based exploits.

Achieving IoT Security with Check Point

Internet of Things and networked operational technology devices have become a critical component of many organizations’ operations and competitive advantage. However, as these devices become more embedded within a company, they pose a growing risk to the security of an organization’s data and other devices on its network.

Check Point provides solutions for both network and on-device IoT security. For more information about Check Point’s IoT Protect solutions, check out this solution brief. Then, see its capabilities for yourself by requesting a free demo.

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