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Security Risks Associated with IoT Devices and How to Manage them

Updated on May 10, 2016

However innovative and promising the trend seems, IoT (Internet of Things) does boost a number of security risks that enterprises inevitably face. One should be prepared to counter the security risks associated with IoT with a proper implementation plan.

Here are the most common risks that are part of the IoT world along with suggestions for the same:

1. Disruption and attacks related to denial-of-service

Ensuring availability of IoT-based devices is mandatory to counter operational failures and basic interruptions to enterprise services. Sometimes even the process of adding new endpoints with automated devices will require the business to focus its attention on physical attacks. Business need to strengthen physical security for restricting unauthorized access to any device that is outside of the existing security perimeter.

These disruptive attacks can be detrimental to the value of an enterprise. If multipleIoT devices try accessing a website or data feed that is not available, the glitch can result in multiple unhappy customers resulting in loss of goodwill, customer satisfaction and even poor reception in the market.

Capabilities for managing lost devices by remote wiping or disabling connectivity will be helpful in solving this problem. One would have to counter the risks of corporate data or else the critical data might fall in wrong hands. Alternative BYOD principles can be implemented too.

2. Understanding the complexity of vulnerabilities

Imagine using a simple thermostat for manipulating basic temperature readings in a nuclear plant. If the device is compromised, the results could be devastating. The vulnerabilities need to be assessed in terms of their complexity and their threat level. To mitigate the risks associated with every IoT device, they need to be designed with security measures in mind, along with security controls that are built on top of the role-based security model. Since most of the IoT devices are new, it is critical to not to underestimate the risk that these devices may pose in the near future.

3. IoT vulnerability management

Quickly patching IoT device vulnerabilities with priority is another security concern for enterprises. Because most IoT devices are in dire need of a firmware update for patching vulnerabilities, the tasks would have to be implemented quickly yet precisely.

It is challenging for enterprises to deal with default credentials when IoT devices are used. Some wireless access points and devices are pre-loaded with known administrator IDs and subsequent passwords so that the admins can remotely connect and manage the device. If the attacker is in the know of these authentication passwords, he or she can destroy the very IT fabric of the enterprise. A stringent commissioning process needs to be implemented with a development environment that demands testing of initial configuration settings of devices only especially to detect vulnerabilities, validate their working and close issues before being migrated to production environment. A compliance team needs to be in place to certify the device status in production, test security controls on periodic basis and make sure that the devices are well monitored.

4. Identifying and implementing security controls

In the IT world, redundancy is critical since for every failed product, there is another to take care of the same. It is important for enterprises to layer security and redundancy for managing IoT based risks. The challenges for enterprises lie in the identification of security controls and then implementing them. Customized risk assessments are the need of the hour.

In any event, organizations which embrace IoT trends need to find and identify their information security controls with adequate security of the IoT evolution. One can certainly pick up best practices which will emerge from industry professionals soon after the trend picks up on a bigger scale.


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