What is an IoT Gateway?

IoT Gateways are intelligent central hubs for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. That is, they connect IoT devices that have limited compute and storage to the cloud where data is managed and is used by end-user applications. Here we discuss the role of IoT gateways in the IoT architecture and how they are utilized in securing IoT systems.

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What is an IoT Gateway?

The Need For IoT Gateway

Organizations commonly deploy an array of different IoT devices, which can make it difficult to monitor and manage these devices. An IoT gateway is a centralized hub that connects IoT devices and sensors to cloud-based computing and data processing.

Modern IoT gateways often allow bidirectional data flow between the cloud and IoT devices. This allows IoT sensor data to be uploaded for processing and commands to be sent from cloud-based applications to IoT devices.

How Does An IoT Gateway Work?

IoT gateways are designed to simplify and streamline IoT device communications and management. Some common functions of IoT devices include:

  • Inter-Device Communications: If a company has deployed different types of devices from different vendors, they may not be able to communicate directly. An IoT gateway can act as a central hub and perform the necessary translations to allow inter-device communications.
  • Device-to-Cloud Communications: IoT devices commonly send data to cloud-based infrastructure for processing and use in applications. An IoT gateway aggregates data from multiple devices, providing a single point of contact for cloud infrastructure.
  • Data Preprocessing: IoT devices can collect a massive amount of data, which requires a significant amount of bandwidth to send to cloud-based applications for processing. An IoT gateway performs data filtering and pre-processing to reduce the volume of data sent to the cloud.
  • IoT Device Security: IoT devices have notoriously poor security, making it inadvisable to make them accessible directly from the public Internet. IoT gateways sit between IoT devices and the Internet and can include integrated security functionality to help protect these devices against attack.
  • Intelligent Edge: IoT gateways can natively understand and process the data produced by IoT devices. This may allow them to support basic device management directly.

IoT Gateways In The IoT Architecture

IoT infrastructure can be divided into four architectural layers. These include:

  • Sensor Layer: At the sensor layer, devices collect data for future processing. IoT devices operate at this layer.
  • Network or Data Acquisition Layer: At this layer, data is aggregated from multiple sources and securely transmitted to processing systems. Data acquisition systems (DAS) are responsible for aggregating and converting data to a desired format. IoT gateways operate at this level to provide secure connectivity between IoT devices and processing infrastructure.
  • Data Pre-processing Layer: At this layer, IoT sensor data undergoes pre-processing and basic data analytics to reduce data volume before it is transmitted on to cloud-based infrastructure. IoT edge devices operate at this layer.

Cloud Analysis or Application Layer: Cloud-based infrastructure performs in-depth data analytics and provides applications and users with access to data and analytic results. Data storage or warehousing may also occur at this layer.

IoT Edge Security

IoT gateways are an example of an intelligent IoT device deployed at the network edge. These devices can provide both benefits and downsides for IoT security, including:

  • Data Minimization: IoT gateways are responsible for filtering data produced by IoT devices before sending it out over the Internet. This helps to reduce both the volume of data sent and the amount of sensitive information that may be leaked in network communications or via compromised cloud-based servers.
  • Decentralized Infrastructure: IoT gateways have limited data processing capabilities, which have benefits and drawbacks for security. Distributed data processing via edge computing helps to improve resiliency and data minimization; however, a distributed architecture may be more difficult to secure because it cannot be protected by perimeter-based defenses.
  • Edge-Based Security: IoT gateways can incorporate integrated security functionality that sits between IoT devices and the public Internet. This can help to protect an organization’s IoT devices and the sensitive data that they collect against cyber threats because the IoT helps to close the security gaps that are common in IoT devices.

IoT Gateways Security With Check Point

IoT devices have notoriously poor security, making IoT security a vital part of a corporate cybersecurity strategy. Integrating security functionality into IoT gateways can help to protect vulnerable devices behind a secure perimeter. Undergoing an IoT device firmware assessment is also a good idea to provide visibility into low-level IoT security risks.

Check Point offers a variety of IoT security solutions, including solutions for IoT gateways and the vulnerable IoT devices themselves. To learn more about IoT security threats and how to mitigate them with Check Point IoT Protect, check out this solution brief. You’re also welcome to see the capabilities of Check Point’s IoT security solutions for yourself by signing up for a free demo.

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