Re-evaluating The Security Landscape In IoT World

The severity of an IoT attack on an organisation cannot be underestimated. Bad actors can compromise these endpoints and gain access to critical data generated by IoT devices

The world is getting more connected than ever before as the role of devices is evolving beyond being just devices. Data is a key component and the core of today's digital world. As the importance is realised, the streams of data are also increasing with the emergence of intelligent edge, smart devices or simply Internet of Things (IoT). In the area of operations, enterprises have been leveraging IoT, particularly in the manufacturing sector, enterprises have been using IoT devices to monitor the performance of machinery and get real-time insights which not just ensures optimum efficiency, but also helps in taking preemptive measures in case of maintenance.

While Industry 4.0 practices have proved to be greatly beneficial for enterprises, the advent of the new-age digital native customer is further building a hyper-connected world, where every piece of technology talks with the other. Moreover, with Machine Learning capabilities, smart IoT devices are equipped with the intelligence that's aimed at making people's lives easier. Smart home devices, the simplest and most relevant example, learn not just from their own AI capabilities, but also from the insights generated by other home devices.

The aforementioned are two of the most widespread applications of IoT that one can think of, however as cities transform into smart cities globally, the network of IoT devices will grow on an enormous scale. Furthermore, as connected autonomous vehicles take a concrete shape, IoT with AI at the core will be an integral part of a country's infrastructure. This will be a truly hyper-connected world wherein the network of intelligent devices will be not confined to homes or enterprises; it will be a city-wide ecosystem of connected infrastructure which will further become part of a broader nationwide and worldwide network, as transformation accelerates.

Hyper-secure, Hyper-connected

As more connectivity between devices and the internet is established, it opens doors to more entry points for cyber attackers to exploit and infiltrate into the network. According to an IDC estimate, by 2025 there will be 55.7 billion connected devices across the world and 75% of these will be connected to an IoT platform. IDC estimates also indicate that data generated from connected IoT devices will reach 73.1 zettabytes by 2025.

The threats looming large on the internet now have a vast number of vulnerabilities to choose from. This new and evolving phenomenon of a hyper-connected world requires revaluation of the current cybersecurity practices and calls for a hyper-secure IT infrastructure to tackle the new threat landscape.

The severity of an IoT attack on an organisation cannot be underestimated. Bad actors can compromise these endpoints and gain access to critical data generated by IoT devices.

Safeguarding IoT devices, however, could pose several challenges. Owing to the massive number of devices that are connected with the internet and with each other, monitoring these devices and gaining threat visibility can be highly complex. This can be addressed to a great extent by embedding security into the devices, enabling them with capabilities to identify threats and secure themselves without any manual intervention. The need-of-the-hour for Organisations is to strengthen their endpoint security practices as their IoT footprint increases, thereby increasing the number of endpoints. Endpoint security will continue to play a much larger role in an organisation’s security strategy, as their IoT adoption gains pace.

Implementing a strong security framework for your organisation’s IoT network is another major step in ensuring protection. A robust multi-factor authentication practice is crucial in this direction along with end-to-end encryption of the data generated by IoT devices. The IoT space is still evolving and so are the associated threats and vulnerabilities. Hence, continuous risk assessments are imperative in order to have updated visibility of potential threats, allowing you to prepare your security infrastructure and practices accordingly.

5G Boost

The advent of 5G networks paved the way for more bandwidth for M2M applications and IoT devices, thereby acting as a catalyst for hyper-connected ecosystems across various industries. As 5G adoption continues on an upward trajectory, IoT devices will function in a more conducive environment, however, the associated threats will continue to remain and grow.

A recent MarketsAndMarkets report states, "The global 5G IoT market size is expected to grow from USD 2.6 billion in 2021 to USD 40.2 billion by 2026, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 73.0% during the forecast period. Due to the speed, massive capacity, and super low latency of the 5G network, 5G is expected to be the strongest enabler in the expansion of the IoT."

This reaffirms the role of 5G as an enabler and indicates the evolving IoT footprint globally. In line with this trend, organisations will continue to transform their digital infrastructure with more sophisticated IoT devices and use cases. Security of endpoints and IoT infrastructure will need to remain a key imperative for a hyper-secure environment for a hyper-connected world.

*The author is Dipesh Kaura, GM of Kaspersky South Asia

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