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Why Security Must Be Top of Mind Amid Rapid IoT Adoption



Solutions Review’s Expert Insights Series is a collection of contributed articles written by industry experts in enterprise software categories. Gil Dror of SmartSense by Digi walks us through why security must be at the top of enterprises’ minds when adopting IoT technology.

Expert Insights badgeThe rise of IoT connectivity solutions has revolutionized the intersection of technology and business ecosystems. Leveraging IoT-enabled smart devices and sensors, organizations can now transform telemetry data into actionable business insights faster than ever before – driving higher levels of operational efficiency through data-driven decisions. In turn, it’s no surprise that the global IoT market is expected to reach $1.8 billion in valuation by 2028. From grocers and retailers to healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, the integrated adoption of IoT is everywhere.

However, this sharp rise in connectivity has also led to a greater risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches. Gartner forecasts indicate that 20 percent of organizations leveraging IoT have detected an IoT-based attack over the past three years. Furthermore, IBM’s annual Cost of a Data Breach Report found that victims lost a record-high $9.4 million per breach in 2022. Organizations across industries are fighting a continuously growing rate of attacks targeting their data. There has also been a nearly 50 percent increase in insider threats over the past two years. The motivations and methods for insider threat breaches are diverse in nature. Some insiders are malicious and attempt to access privileged data in order to either harm the company or sell it for profit. Others are merely compromised users who are being sabotaged by an outside source for monetary gain.

To mitigate these risks, it’s essential that connected IoT devices are implemented securely. This includes securing device communication, updating software regularly, following a zero-trust methodology, and protecting sensitive data with encryption and secure passwords. Enterprises adopting IoT at scale will need to strategically plan to mitigate cyber risk to achieve high levels of ROI.

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The Drawbacks of Poor IoT Security

Failure to implement proper security measures can result in the loss of personal and financial information, regulatory penalties, reputational damage, and reduced brand loyalty – the latter of which is particularly of high importance today. The ripple effects of inflation coupled with global supply chain disruptions have shifted the paradigm for consumer brand loyalty. A market report cited by the Wall Street Journal revealed nearly 70 percent of U.S. consumers switched brands since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning the margin for customer relationship error is exceedingly thin.

Considering it only takes one brand spoofing attack to inflict irremediable damage on an organization’s public perception, companies need to be calculated about safeguarding sensitive customer IoT data from potential cyber threats. According to the email security firm Mimecast’s State of Brand Protection Report, more than 60 percent of consumers will lose trust in their favorite brand after disclosing personal information to a spoofed website. In addition, the Biden Administration’s new cybersecurity strategy will place increased responsibility on systems and software vendors to drive more secure technology development practices.

Making IoT Security a Priority

By prioritizing IoT security, organizations can ensure the safe and responsible use of connected devices and protect themselves from the negative consequences of a major breach. That starts by leveraging the right balance of network detection and response (NDR) solutions, multi-factor authentications, access controls, end-point protections and machine learning automation tools to cover the NIST cybersecurity framework:

  • Identify: Develop an organizational understanding to manage cybersecurity risk to systems, people, assets, data, and capabilities
  • Protect: Develop and implement appropriate safeguards to ensure delivery of critical services.
  • Detect: Develop and implement appropriate activities to identify the occurrence of a cybersecurity event
  • Respond: Develop and implement appropriate activities to proactively respond to a detected cybersecurity incident
  • Recover: Develop and implement appropriate activities to maintain plans for resilience and to restore any capabilities or services that were impaired due to a cybersecurity incident

Many IoT devices are not designed with these five pillars in mind, in turn making them more vulnerable to attacks. It’s important to only partner with IoT vendors that weave security within the fabric of their offerings. Organizations should also follow a data-centric Zero Trust framework, which focuses on the protection of IoT data assets stored inside the network and simplifies key complexities of data management, protection, storage, and compliance. Since IoT sensors are typically placed outside the traditional IT perimeter and send data to an organization’s core platform, data-centric zero trust principles help ensure the end-to-end exchange remains secure.

AI and machine learning security tools are another crucial component to IoT security. Amid widespread cybersecurity talent shortages coupled with a complex threat landscape and societal shifts to hybrid work environments, these tools are critical to bridging the gap and boosting cyber defenses. By streamlining routine tasks, improving the accuracy of threat detection and prevention, and reducing the rate of human error, automation is becoming an increasingly necessary asset to a strong security posture.

As the widespread adoption of IoT connectivity continues to intensify in the years to come, implementing best practices within a robust security architecture must be considered non-negotiable. The safety of an IoT connectivity architecture can make or break an organization’s ability to capitalize on its full value.

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