How To Use IoT Security Seriously

How to Use IoT Security Seriously

by Amelia Scott — 2 years ago in Artificial Intelligence 8 min. read

IoT devices, like all internet-connected devices, can be targeted and hacked to exploit for malicious purposes. Attacks on IIoT devices are likely to escalate as the industrial internet of things (IIoT), is a prime target for malicious actors.

This is why IoT device protection should be a top priority for all businesses and why SASE should be at the center of IoT security discussions.

Movie buffs might recall the first time an IoT hack was used in a plot device: The 1969 British version of The Italian Job. In this movie, thieves use Turin’s traffic management system to create a massive traffic jam that allows for the theft of gold bullion.

These (and other) genius hackers are cleverly analyzed in this Kaspersky article. The shocking conclusion is that “the cinematic stereotypes of genius hackers harm the security of real companies.”

Bad actors are so certain that they can do whatever they want, people don’t care about maximum protection and leave unnecessary loopholes.

ABI Research’s November 2020 report shows how many devices could be at risk.

By 2020, there will be 6.6 billion Internet of Things devices connected and active around the world. 840 million of these devices will connect to cellular networks which will make up just 8% of the total. There were 180 million active cellulars IoT devices worldwide at the end of 2014.

That number has increased more than 4.5X over the past six years. We will see a near-7X increase in cellular IoT device activity over the next six years, bringing the total global number to 5.7 billion. Smart devices are getting smarter and more types are being used.

These devices are becoming more intelligent, but not always secure. A 2020 Palo Alto Networks survey found that 98% of all IoT traffic was unencrypted. IIoT devices are attractive attack surfaces.

They can be used to gain access to the system from any point or section. There are four key attack points for any IoT device connected to the network via cellular: the device itself, the wireless module and data transmissions from the device to an app, as well as the application infrastructure.

All of these can be used to gain access to, misuse, or abuse the system and access or modify confidential data.

Strong IoT security is a must

For businesses that depend on data coming from devices connected to a mobile network, these security breaches can be devastating.

Although the latest technologies such as communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS), and secure access service edge(SASE), can help manufacturers protect their connected devices, security professionals must conduct regular audits to ensure they are protecting themselves against evolving cybersecurity threats.

  1. Learn how and why IoT devices and applications are susceptible to hacking attempts.
  2. Learn from IoT security mistakes of others;
  3. Use modern technologies and strategies for securing their applications and devices.

The network they are connected to is not secure, which is why cellular IoT devices can be hacked.

Smart businesses will avoid using the public internet to communicate with IoT devices, but private networks can be vulnerable to low-security standards. These five methods can be used to compromise IoT devices even if you have encrypted your network traffic.
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These five methods can be used to compromise IoT devices

1. Traffic sniffing and eavesdropping:

Insecure encryption settings make data transmissions vulnerable to hackers looking to steal, read, alter, or modify your data. This is a significant security risk for IoT networks because regular transmissions between devices are not encrypted.

Although encryption is not necessary for devices that don’t store sensitive data such as thermostats, an unencrypted device can provide hackers with an entry point to your wider network.
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2. DNS poisoning:

Another threat is the compromise of public domain names systems (DNS). DNS poisoning is an attack by malicious actors that aims to redirect and reroute communication between devices from legitimate applications servers to spoofed ones.

3. Distributed denial-of-service:

A distributed DDoS attack (or distributed denial-of-service) is a technique that causes a server to be overwhelmed with redundant requests. This overloads its resources and takes it offline. DDoS attacks are usually performed from a botnet, which contains many previously compromised servers and computers.

4. Unprotected SIM (unprotected SIM):

Cellular IoT devices that are remotely accessible, such as meters and sensors, may be found in public locations. A bad actor could easily steal them, break them, and steal their SIM card to access company data.
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5. Redefining the home base:

Once the malware has taken control of an IoT device it can reprogramme it to “call home” to the hacker’s base. This allows it to send sensitive data to malicious actors, without the owner’s consent.

Humans in a loop

This is an obvious attack surface, but it’s worth mentioning. Hackers know how to exploit the weakest link in security chains: people. Even seasoned security professionals may choose bullet-proof over convenient. They may not want to deal with complicated passwords or the need for frequent changes.

It is essential to practice ‘password hygiene. This means that human operators must use difficult-to-crack passwords or multi-factor authentication that are not easily cracked.

Past security breaches teach valuable lessons

Although hackers continue to innovate and discover new exploits every day, security professionals can still benefit from learning valuable lessons from past security breaches. They can also apply the lessons to their network security policies and procedures.

It is important to understand the motivations of malicious actors who try to infiltrate your network. The hack on Colonial Pipeline was intended to extort ransom payments.

However, other attacks such as the 2016 Mirai botnet attack were purely about creating havoc. A type of malware was distributed across the internet in 2016.

The botnet eventually absorbed over 145,000 IP cameras and instigated DDoS attacks on the servers of Minecraft and other websites such as Netflix and Twitter. How much damage can this type of attack do to your critical assets?
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Inadequate network topologies and security protocols

Surprisingly, many IoT network connectivity models use a route that routes traffic through the company’s central area network (LAN), then to the public internet (WAN) to reach the device’s location. This is particularly true for IoT networks that span vast distances (often global or continental).

Traditional networks use a complex set of endpoint clients to secure communications. These endpoint clients are required to establish a VPN connection or use SSL/TLS encryption between IoT endpoints.

This topography is not up to the task to secure communications because of the increasing number of devices that are added to IoT.

SaaS applications are another factor. They allow large amounts of device traffic to be securely and efficiently transferred into the cloud. Cellular-enabled IoT apps require a new approach in both network topology as well as security technology.

CPaaS allows you to add communications to your cloud

A new model has been created: communications platform as a cloud (CPaaS). This is a change from the current approach. Companies need a dedicated cloud to manage and process thousands upon thousands of connected IoT devices. CPaaS has unique advantages in this regard.

Gartner, an IT research firm, defines the CPaaS as “a cloud-based multilayered middleware upon which (companies can develop, run, and distribute communications software.” A CPaaS gives developers access to application programming interfaces (APIs) so that they can integrate different communication channels into applications.

The original model was intended for a person-to-person context, such as voice or video messaging. However, CPaaS evolved to meet the technical needs of IoT applications.

It was clear that a better security approach was required as CPaaS provides the stack architecture for IoT apps.
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SASE maximizes protection for IoT devices

Gartner’s 2019 Networking Hype Cycle & Market Trends report introduced the term SASE, which is short for Secure Access Service Edge.

It’s pronounced similarly to the English word “sassy”. This term is a new type of cloud architecture, where security and networking functions are combined and delivered via the cloud.

SASE is defined by global cloud-native architecture and identity-driven services. It also includes central policy control, central policy control, security enforcement, and central policy control.

SASE allows organizations to integrate their security and network tools into one management console. They have greater visibility into all their communications and traffic.

Created to meet the needs of a remote workforce with limited IT infrastructure, SASE is the best method to manage IoT devices.

SASE combines multiple virtualized security and networking applications into one unified cloud service offering.

Secure access is made possible by a central policy control system that optimizes data routing and protects communications traffic between the different applications. This applies regardless of the location of the device, network, and IoT applications.

SASE has been optimized for IIoT

In many ways, the SASE model is different from other networking models. It locates security checkpoints nearer to the data source.

Next, policies such as access protocols are managed at distributed points-of-presence (PoP). If they are located within proximity of the device, these PoPs could be data centers or cloud areas from a company.

After verification of the device’s identity, access is granted. Devices can be identified by specific attributes and their location. The policies can also be programmed and tailored to individual applications.

SASE is a hybrid cloud-based and central system that allows policy management, local enforcement of identity-driven service services, and policy administration.

This model offers the best of both worlds. The cloud simplifies cost and complexity by consolidating all network security services under one vendor. This allows users to see all communications between managed devices. SASE is different from traditional network security models in important ways:
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SASE is different from traditional network security models

Remote access to on-premises resources: You can also connect IoT devices with a SASE to gain access to cloud services or on-premises resources. The SASE API defines and applies the policies.

Access to cloud resources: In a traditional network environment, cellular access by IoT devices is treated as any other online asset. This includes traditional firewalls and proxy services. SASE provides IoT devices with cloud-aware, optimized network access.

Networks and internet access: Accessing a cellular network via a traditional enterprise software-defined wide-area network (SDWAN) is difficult. SASE services combine cellular access with traffic optimization capabilities to create a cloud service. This greatly improves the connectivity between devices.

Backend application security: The traditional model has firewalls or web application firewalls (WAF) and backend services. This makes integration difficult. SASE provides access control and identity-based access control, allowing users to see the entire network.

Network access control: IoT devices that are not connected to the Internet rely on local configuration settings as well as software components to manage network activity. SASE services, which combine a variety of network security and access control (including firewalls as a Service) into one fabric, are instead used.

Modern SASE architectures can provide a wide range of security and network features. These may differ between vendors.
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These considerations might be applicable to some manufacturers:

Dynamic Data Routing using SD-WAN: SASE allows network access and traffic optimization to be integrated into an infrastructure that spans the globe and makes full use of multi-regional PoPs.

As a cloud-based service, access control and security policy enforcement eliminate the need for users not to divert communications traffic through their own network. The latency of an IoT application is greatly reduced by routing data to a SASE PoP near the device.

Firewall as a Service: A cloud-based FaaS can be used to filter out malicious and unwanted internet traffic, and protect services that are delivered at the edge.

Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB): A CASB protects data transmissions to multiple cloud environments from eavesdropping and traffic sniffing. It also protects them against theft of data by encrypting them thoroughly.

DNS Security: A SASE solution allows users to set up trusted DNS services. This helps to ensure that their DNS is secure and available.

Threat Detection: Finally, SASE services give users full visibility of their network and drill-down event metrics. This allows them to do a root cause analysis of any anomalies in their IoT solution.

Getting started using CPaaS & SASE

Do the first audit to determine where your company stands in relation to connected devices. Which network topography are you using? Are you using cellular connectivity to connect your IoT devices?

Next, identify which devices are most at risk and determine what the risks. Finally, do a gap analysis to determine how your infrastructure compares to a CPaaS or SASE environment.

You should upgrade to a CPaaS or SASE environment if your research shows that they are superior to your current one. The CPaaS deployment model is a great way to protect against IoT device threats. SASE allows users to control all IoT connections to the internet, intranet, SaaS cloud, and distributed workforce.

Every business that relies on IIoT devices must be vigilant about security breaches. Any company can suffer devastating consequences from a successful security breach. Choosing state-of the-art security technology such as CPaaS or SASE will give your company a lot of confidence when it comes to protecting your business from IoT device hackers.

Amelia Scott

Amelia is a content manager of The Next Tech. She also includes the characteristics of her log in a fun way so readers will know what to expect from her work.

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