Launch of the Industrial Internet of Things in the hands of The Security Issues

Launch of the Industrial Internet of Things in the hands of The Security Issues

Many of the discussions about the Internet of Things, or IoT, focus on the positives of having a connected home or a connected workplace. But there’s also been a focus on the weaknesses and flaws in the IoT. High on that list is security and concerns about the safety and integrity of all those devices that we’re connecting together.

The State of Security in the Internet of Things
The bad news is that many of those responding to a recent survey say they are not prepared to protect their organizations’ infrastructure. In March 2021, Tripwire, a Portland, Ore.-based provider of security and compliance solutions for enterprises, surveyed 312 security professionals who manage IoT and IIoT devices across their organization.

If security problems can cause serious problems for consumers, compromised security for the Industrial IoT (IIoT) can be devastating for organizations involved and result in a significant reputational hit when devices are hacked, and even a shutdown if the attack is serious enough. As the world has become more connected over the past year, that has pushed IIoT security to the top of security professionals’ agenda.

According to the survey, 99% of security professionals report challenges with the security of their IoT and IIoT devices, and 95% are concerned about risks associated with these connected devices. More than three quarters of those surveyed said that connected devices do not easily fit into their existing security approach, and 88% required (or still require) additional resources to meet their IoT and IIoT security needs.

Related Article: The Future of IoT and the Digital Workplace

This is of particular concern for those in the industrial space, as more than half (53%) said they are unable to fully monitor connected systems entering their controlled environment, and 61% have limited visibility into changes in security vendors within their supply chain.

No Device Is Safe From Threats
One of the most significant technologies of the 21st century, IoT has the power to revolutionize our daily functions and how we interact with our homes and each other. The mass usage of IIoT is a massive opportunity but it comes with many problems that manufacturers have yet to answer, said Ondrej Krehel, CEO of LIFARS, a New York City-based cybersecurity firm. The biggest potential downside is that they are not safe from cybercriminals.

“In 2021, there is no device in the world that is 100% safe from all outside threats,” he said. “Any Internet-connected device anywhere is vulnerable to some type of attack. However, considering the interconnectivity of IoT devices, a simple breach could be catastrophic and expose problems to an entire network of devices [across the enterprise], instead of just one.” Those threats include:

Botnet and DDoS attacks
Advanced persistent threats for power grids, industrial control and related infrastructure
Ransomware that controls room temperature and appliance startup
Theft of user data, such as credit cards
Remote control of a vehicle via invasion of intelligent automation systems
Related Article: How the Internet of Things Enables Remote Workers The Enterprise Disconnect Around IIoT Systems
The security of IIoT devices is easily its biggest problem. Manufacturers and service providers should prioritize the security and privacy of their products and should also provide encryption and authorization by default to protect users as much as possible.

Tom Winter, HR tech recruitment advisor and co-founder of New York City-based DevSkiller, pointed out that while IoT has been a great factor in the proliferation of smart homes, smart offices have yet to take flight in the same way. The fact that companies and organizations have significant security issues is one of the reasons why industrial IoT implementation has not caught on in the workplace. There is a clear disconnect between organizational IoT systems and their users. Yet, the importance of these systems is inevitable and organizations must educate their users to build knowledge and awareness. There is one more factor: the maturity of the commercial products in the market today.

“Perhaps they are not yet ready for all types of offices just yet,” Winter said. “There may need to be some time for the market to adjust to the needs of various organizations.” The proliferation of 5G networks will vastly improve both the security and performance of these IoT systems. Because not all regions globally have access to this technology yet, there needs to be patience on the part of companies before IoT workspaces become a full-fledged phenomenon.

Why IIoT Can’t Be Ignored
Organizations and chief information security officers are right to be concerned by IIoT security, but the benefits and market potential are such that companies cannot sit idly by either, said Hatem Oueslati, co-founder and CEO of France-based IoTerop. One positive is that Europe, the UK, and the US all recently introduced cybersecurity regulations highlighting the importance of security, but even these suggestions can be problematic. Take firmware updates, for example. Poorly implemented FOTA mechanisms can create vulnerabilities. Security should be an integral pillar of product strategy. No one buys thousands of smart meters without looking closely at security. Security is one reason original equipment manufacturers are attracted to the lightweight M2M standard (LwM2M). Initially, they want to reduce time to market and improve solution quality. However, standardized device management services like zero-touch device commissioning and PKI provisioning, monitoring, authentication and encryption are crucial to operating secure, cost-effective IoT solutions.

“Soon, billions of devices will deliver the goods and services we need to live, like healthcare, electricity and more,” Oueslati said. “From the device to the cloud, everything must be secure and standardized so the risks are not hidden.” Other IIoT Issues
There are other issues, too. The hype around IoT years ago was off the charts, said Ron Exler, director and principal analyst at the Stamford, Conn.-based Information Services Group. The excessive predictions about its spread explain why there are questions over why it has not spread as fast as might have been expected.

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