IoT Security, or How to Protect a Pretty Much Free-Air Marketplace

In 2017, a deadly piece of ransomware called NotPetya infected Maersk, quickly spreading through its entire network, almost destroying all digital assets.

How was Maersk’s endpoint security breached? Malicious hackers uploaded NotPetya to an accounting software used by the logistics company. The next time the accounting software updated, NotPetya was offloaded into Maersk headquarters — behind the castle walls.

NotPetya spread from Maersk all the way to the United States, where it also devastated Merck & Co. It was the most financially damaging ransomware ever, and it occurred from a vendor security weakness.

Now imagine: If one vendor, which is an established company, responsible for its own cybersecurity, can make one slip and enable devastation on this level, how vulnerable we are when we have an entire array of smart locks, smart lights, sensors and more, any one of which could be the entry point for malware.

IoT Security Is not a Trend

It is a necessary step in protecting an increasingly vulnerable world

Today, businesses rely on an increasingly complex and multivariate array of connected hardware and software. You might think of IoT as cutting-edge, something your business doesn’t need to worry about. But think for a moment about the number of vendors, devices, employees, and other connected hardware your business relies on.

Can you rely on all of these connected resources to have airtight security measures?

We have seen that as IoT grows in number, smaller devices and applications often sacrifice security. Your business can limit its exposure by emphasizing security in its purchases, but we also recommend more.

Let’s start with IOT, the simple definition

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of physical things that are networked to increase performance through the exchange of information with other devices on the network.

IoT Examples for Small Business

  1. Smart Buildings: Connected building devices and systems bring more efficient and convenient control to building occupants, operators, and owners
  2. Mobile card readers allow anyone, anywhere, to act as a sales agent
  3. Manufacturers deploy connected sensors and machines to deliver real-time data to workers and leaders while also delivering the ability to control these devices remotely
  4. Smart Locks allow mobile devices to function as a key. This allows leadership to control at any given time who has access and under what conditions.
  5. Connected Cameras allow video surveillance and delivers footage directly to your mobile device, also allowing you to control camera actions in real time, for example turning the camera or zooming in
  6. Azure IoT Suite provides management tools for small businesses to monitor devices and secure networks
  7. Healthcare IoT devices allow hospitals to track equipment usage and practice predictive maintenance

If you think about it, IoT was a buzzword, but now it is the world in which we live.

The Decreasing Efficacy of Endpoint Security

In this world, traditional security protection becomes increasingly vulnerable. As the network of trust increases, the probability of an untrustworthy device increases. Maersk’s endpoint security was never breached; it was obviated by trust.

For this reason, US Department of Justice: Cybersecurity Unite released a report, entitled, Securing Your “Internet of Things” Devices.

Although it contains some good best practices, the report is too traditionally minded in its emphasis on endpoint protection. It plays the same game of ensuring that we can trust every device on the network.

Make no mistake. Ensuring the highest level of endpoint security is absolutely vital. The protocol in this report should be enacted.

Additionally, we need to be prepared to accept vulnerability so that we can prepare for a breach of a trusted vendor or device inside our trusted network.

Endpoint security decreases in value as more and more traffic uses the back door. As devices increase, so too does the probability of making a mistake, however minor. Any device or employee that has network trust becomes a potential source of infection.

Create a Secure Network by Strengthening Internal Safeguards

In addition to executing best practices to ensure that all devices on the network remain secure, there needs to be internal safeguards in place that significantly limit the potential damage of a breach.

  • On-premise data logistics software should also protect and monitor the IoT network and isolate external threat entry points as a firewall would
  • API access compartmentalization using keys and tokens
  • Secure network communications using standards
  • Secure inter-application authentication
  • Eliminate multicast or broadcast messaging over the IP network
  • Ensure regular security vulnerability scans on all devices