What can you truly do to prevent and deal with cyber attacks? The answer is right here in these primary IoT principles.
The Internet of Things, or IoT, is transforming traditional industries and providing unprecedented amounts of data to provide world-altering information to all users and adopters. However, the IoT is also vulnerable to security breaches and the ensuing storm. This is especially true in business and enterprise, where a data breach could mean exposing not just your organization's data but also sensitive data related to your customers and clientele.
Inherently, connected and publicly accessible devices come with a series of vulnerability risks. But the real issues are an inadequate series of regulations for data security and privacy in the field and a lack of preparedness on the part of users. What happens, for example, when a device is compromised and the data contained within is absconded? Who is to blame? What should be done to protect those affected, and how can we make sure it doesn't happen again?
Furthermore, who owns the data being collected and processed? When consumers are involved, is it the person for whom the data is about? Is it the company collecting the data? Is it the manufacturer of the IoT device or equipment in use?
You can see that the matter of security and privacy is about more than just locking down the technology and preventing unauthorized access. It's about how the devices are used, as well as what's being done with the data they create. And more importantly, how we — as a society — secure that data.
Prepare for an event
The more obvious security concern relates to a data breach or cyber attack. At this point, it's better to look at them as inevitable. Not only should you never be lax with your security and preventative measures, but also understand that, at some point, you will most likely experience an attack. Which means, dealing with the aftermath of a breach and developing a proper risk assessment plan — that covers before, during and after an attack — are equally necessary.
Too many of us focus on just the preventative side of the equation, which does nothing during and after an event.
Instead, a more robust security plan is in order. This means establishing monitoring tools to see who's on your network and what they're doing at all times. You must also have a way to prevent or block both unauthorized and legitimate users. Sometimes a trusted user's account or device is being leveraged by hackers.
Additionally, measures must be deployed to secure the sensitive data involved, eliminate access to it during a breach, and understand what content — and why — is being targeted.
Securing your network: Mind IoT data principles
While dealing with IoT data and information, there are several questions you must ask before deploying any equipment on your network.
- Should data remain private and be securely stored?
- Does this data need to be accurate and trustworthy — free from tampering or outside influence?
- Is the timely arrival of the data vital to operations?
- Should the device(s) or hardware be restricted to select personnel?
- Should the firmware or device software be kept up-to-date?
- Is device ownership dynamic and will there need to be complex permissions?
- Is it necessary to audit the data and systems in use regularly?
Answering these questions will determine exactly what kind of security measures and protocols you put in place. If devices are restricted to select users, you will need to deploy an authentication system that can both identify and provide access based on a series of explicit permissions.
It's also worth mentioning that many of these principles are related to one another. Restricting user access, for instance, would call for dynamic ownership, complex permissions, and data encryption to prevent unauthorized data viewing or manipulation.
All too often, we take it for granted that the data is flowing freely and securely between systems or devices and that it's being housed in a protected way. The sad truth is that proper security is an exception more than it is a rule, as evidenced by so many recent and historic data breaches.
Minimizing damage during an event
As with any conventional business IT infrastructure, an IoT network must undergo routine maintenance and monitoring to ensure that issues are handled swiftly. Any and all network devices must be kept up-to-date with the latest security patches. Only authorized users must be allowed to access highly-sensitive data, and they must be knowledgeable and aware of basic security protocols. Finally, the proper security monitoring tools must be deployed to keep an eye on what's happening.
Future proofing the technology means adopting innovative security strategies where they are applicable. AI and machine learning tools can help devices identify and understand when something isn't right, and then ultimately empowering them to take action. Whether that be blocking out a users access, notifying an administrator, or shutting-down completely to prevent further damage.
New threats and opportunities will always be present, as the market and field of cybersecurity is ever-evolving. However, acting now and deploying appropriate measures as soon as possible will help prevent the more damaging events from occurring on your network and devices.