Top Security Priorities of the Internet of Things

Pierluigi Paganini August 05, 2016

The rise of the Internet of Things is being heralded by many as the beginning of a new Industrial Revolution.

Technology firms are now linking objects ranging from household appliances to industrial machinery to the internet. With telecommunications firms on board, manufacturers are coming up with new, innovative uses for everyday objects. Yet linking these everyday objects to a wider network out there creates new security risks.

How do you cope with the massively increased flow of data that the Internet of Things requires? At the moment there are already a forecasted amount of 6.4 billion connected objects, but as this technology takes off this number will easily reach into the 11 billion by 2020. As a result, some new priorities are beginning to emerge.

Internet of Things

Security begins with the object

When a staggering volume of new objects become connected to the internet, some form of security must be built in at the manufacturing level. This is a shift that’s one of the first major new priorities for the IoT. The shift will most likely move in stages, with the web service focused on first as a security barrier. Cloud security is also important to think about. Yet as IoT innovation from Nokia Networks and other providers continues to develop, the security will eventually become embedded directly into the object.

Securing data en route

Another area where security experts will need to focus is in the route that data takes from the object to the internet. There’s a far greater burden on IT departments with the growth of the IoT, as they must now track exponentially increasing volumes of data. Endpoint security is often focused on, but these mass flows of data must also be secured during transport as a new priority. Data is currently sent to a local data collation hub in many cases, where it is stored before it’s moved on to the next end point. These midway storage points must be secured just like the end points. Securing the endpoints is still important however, as is educating end users who may pose the biggest security risk.

Privacy issues

Privacy is another major security issue to consider with the growth of the IoT. Naturally, privacy concerns are already a core issue with cloud systems, but this will grow as every person and object starts transmitting data. Objects will constantly be collecting and aggregating data in real time, which must be stored securely for review.

Systems will need to be put into place to determine how to best delete this data when it is no longer needed. Useful connected objects like health monitors will store sensitive information about consumers, for example. This is a major component of the security puzzle that needs to be addressed before the IoT can become mainstream.

Increasing Security Spending

With everything from industrial machinery to consumer vehicles connected to the web, the consequences of a security breach could be serious. As the IoT becomes increasingly complex over the next few years, stretching out to become a technology in every individual’s home, directing entire smart cities, the consequences of an attack could be considerable. To combat this, IoT security spending has increased rapidly to match the technology’s growth. A recent Gartner report stated that worldwide spending will reach $547 million in 2018, up from $348 million this year and $281.5 million in 2015.

The growth of this new technology will offer society numerous benefits, but it’s important to think about embedding security right from the start. Identifying these priorities and increasing security spending accordingly is a good start.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – security, Internet of Things)

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