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Key Security Considerations for IoT Implementation

4 minute read

A successful IoT deployment requires many components, each of which brings security risks, making navigation complex. However, breaking down an IoT solution into its key elements can help ensure proper security for each part of the stack. In this blog we run through the three pivotal "layers" that comprise IoT security, accompanied by essential best practices to mitigate risks.

1.    Device Layer
To properly secure an IoT solution on the device layer or the endpoint device, organisations must be sure that both the physical properties (i.e., metal casings to prevent SIM card theft), as well as software properties (i.e., firmware, operating systems, and applications running on the device), are protected. Regarding software properties, potential security issues should be considered throughout the design process to ensure the firmware can be updated, safeguarding the device from unwanted access and configuration changes. From a software standpoint, there are several measures businesses can take to help lock down their devices. Examples include:

  • Use of secure booting to ensure only verified software can operate on the device
  • User authentication and authorisation to provide proper access control
  • Regularly updated, secure device firmware to avoid unintended network or application usage

It is important to note that some IoT devices are small, with limited memory and processing resources to support advanced security features. In these instances, organisations should consider cloud-based IoT security solutions.

2.    Communication Layer
The communications layer relates to the network connectivity technology that enables the device to send and receive data. Organisations must consider implementing infrastructure- and data-centric solutions to properly secure the communications layer of an IoT solution.

Network infrastructure security is typically verified with an organisation’s network connectivity provider(s). Some critical questions that businesses should be asking connectivity providers during the partner selection process should include the following:

  • What encryption methods and firewall technologies are used by the network provider?
  • Is there an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) in place?
  • Are all servers and network components within the organisation’s network updated with the latest security patches and updates? Is there a process in place to apply new patches and updates promptly?

Regarding data-centric IoT security measures, best practice solutions revolve around data encryption. Encryption protects IoT data from being accessed and read as it passes through different networks, including the public Internet. Site-to-site Virtual Private Network (VPN) solutions and data signing solutions are a few examples that ensure the authenticity and integrity of transmitted data.

3.    Application Layer

The application layer in IoT security relates to securing the application and databases at the heart of the solution. As with the other layers, application security should be considered to protect web, mobile, and cloud components throughout the development process. Best practices to protect this part of the IoT solution include:

  • Code analysis tools to automatically inspect source code and identify potential security flaws
  • Timely, automated application updates to quickly and efficiently update applications to protect against new virus attacks or other emerging security risks
  • Key exchange IoT solutions that enable secure updating of IoT application security keys, even over public networks

Certificate enrollment solutions to provide each IoT device with a unique identifier and to verify this identifier before enabling access to systems or networks.

Additionally, organisations should implement threat management to ensure their solutions' availability and integrity. Because the world of technology is ever evolving and hackers are constantly improving their attacks, businesses need to thoroughly understand their IoT solutions' behavior patterns to detect and respond to anomalies quickly. The best way to accomplish this is by implementing monitoring systems across all elements of the IoT solution that notify security teams when a change in device or application behavior is detected. 

KORE provides a suite of services and solutions to help protect IoT solutions, including SecurityProTM, an intelligent network and security monitoring tool. Check out the demo here. 

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