Overcoming the security risks associated with IoT

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The market for Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to grow exponentially by 2020.
However, with this growth spurt firms and individuals must prepare themselves for a new mountain of security challenges.
Detect and Overcome IoT Security Challenges

Security challenges in the IoT aren’t just limited to your in-house business team but also impacts your customers. It is quite worrying to note that over half of the financial firms have experienced an IoT related attack.
However, addressing the five most prominent IoT security challenges will reduce and eliminate such threats.

1. Unsecured End Devices
Only 50% of smartwatches allow users to set a pin code or pattern. What’s more, 87% of enterprises worry about vulnerabilities within the IoT devices themselves.
Biometric authentication, such as fingerprint scans and voice recognition, can provide a safer way of securing data, using tech that is already familiar to many mobile phone users. But, if you’re unable to implement biometric functions, Azure’s multi-factor authentication can also provide multiple layers of security, leaving your data protected.
A lost payment device (such as a smartwatch or mobile phone) poses far less of a threat when the financial information it contains is locked and encrypted. Implementing geolocation functions allows users to track their device’s location in the event they’re stolen or lost.
This keeps your customers’ credentials secure, as well as sealing off any backdoors to your business, which could result in data breaches and reputational damage.
But, of course, even with increased security at the end-user level, hackers can still infiltrate your network or data canter.

2. Insufficient Patching & Testing
Outdated devices may contain dangerous bugs or vulnerabilities that hackers can target and therefore pose a risk to your organisation’s data security.
Whether you’re patching in-branch IoT devices or customer wearables, it’s important to monitor and test the stability of each update (and device models) to ensure their security posture is watertight. Since customers can always opt-out of updates, consider enrolling automatic updates or retiring outdated models.
Azure’s IoT solutions closely monitor your assets with bidirectional communication. This means that your business can remotely understand the state of each device and send out update or notification commands accordingly.

3. Default passwords and brute-force hacking
The Mirai botnet hacking shows just how important passwords are to IoT networks and the kinds of IoT security challenges your business could face.
A recent government report recommends that vendors don’t sell IoT devices with default credentials (such as the username ‘admin’). However, these are only guidelines and manufacturers don’t necessarily have to follow them.
Weak login details leave your financial IoT devices vulnerable to brute-force attacks. So, unless you want to follow in the steps of companies like Mirai, it’s vital you either change the default settings of your devices before you deploy them. Without the right security measures, you’re putting your business assets and customer information at risk.
Fortunately, a tool such as Azure Active Directory helps to tackle unauthorised access to connected devices. Using cloud intelligence, Active Directory’s ‘smart lockout’ detects common brute-force techniques and attempts to guess device passwords. By identifying invalid users, the tool locks out potential hackers, whilst verifying the identity of all authorised users.

4. IoT data processing
It’s vital you invest in the appropriate safeguarding measures when processing IoT data. If you’re an organisation that processes masses of sensitive data, one breach could potentially ruin your reputation and customer trust.
Although keeping your IoT data insight seem to offer an added sense of physical security, processing your information on-premise is a big IoT security challenge. Without the right expertise or physical hardware, compromised or stolen infrastructure puts you at great risk.
By processing your IoT data in the cloud, you stand a much better chance of keeping your assets secure. Azure Active Directory, for example, uses user authentication and authorisation to prevent unauthorised persons from accessing your IoT data. You can use this functionality to split the IoT data processing journey. This allows you to tailor who has access to the data at each point in its lifecycle.

5. Multi-layer Data Management & Security
More than 70% of financial organisations admit that the rapid deployment of new technologies – such as the cloud, big data and IoT – is a larger priority than securing their infrastructure and network.
But, while the Internet of Things is a trending business investment for financial organisations, it should never come at the expense of weakened defences. To keep your business and customers safe, you need to place security at the heart of your investments, ensuring you keep IoT security challenges in mind across all layers of your network:
End-point devices, Embedded software Communications, Cloud platforms, Web, cloud and mobile applications.

Investing in a compliant, transparent and secure IoT hub, on a safe platform like Azure, can ensure your data remains safe throughout your Internet of Things journey and can allow you to detect threats before they cause irreversible damage.
Azure’s solution allows you to secure and manage billions of different IoT devices, with functions such as applying identities and credentials to individual devices.
With built-in cloud security, your IT team spends less time on routine patching and monitoring and more time analysing IoT data for business-driven insights.

View IoT Security as an Enabler, Not an Obstacle
While IoT creates new entry points for hackers to exploit, a holistic approach to security helps prevent leaks and weaknesses. In fact, firms who haven’t experienced IoT data breaches spend 65% more on IoT security than those who have.

As long as companies continue to look at security as a ‘feature’ rather than as a fundamental operating characteristic, they will be unable to cooperate to build a proper security infrastructure.
Building cloud architecture with proactive defences in mind makes it easier to integrate game-changing technology and create IoT solutions that not only drive better business outcomes but maintain high-quality data security.

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