What Mom Never Told You About IoT Data Security

Most people just refused to give enough attention when Cisco CEO John Chambers back in January 2014 talked of a whopping $17 trillion market for IoT (he referred this quite befittingly as “Internet of Everything”) which is going to have several times more impact compared to what the internet has done to the society. Down the line in just two years his predictions seem to be more than true.

Yes, IoT is pushing the boundary of innovation, widening the horizon of digital experiences and bringing more value to the efficiency and speed in data-driven applications. From automotive to heavy machinery to aviation to telecommunication to energy to healthcare, the impact of IoT is felt across the industry niches now. Now considering this huge and increasingly widening impact of connected devices and IoT platforms, security concerns no longer can be an afterthought.

The Impact Of IoT And The Security Gap

Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) was made around four decades ago for the express purpose of communicating between two human parties. But such security arrangement was far less equipped to deal with the complex task involved in managing a vast network of connected devices. Today, there are more than 50 billion connected devices on highly scalable industrial networks. Naturally, the security gap for managing these networked devices continues to remain a concern.

A group of IoT leaders, when asked about the security impacts of their IoT initiatives, cited the length and scale of the impacts in varying degree. Let us offer a glimpse of this survey.

  • 64 percent of IoT leaders considered the better user and customer experiences will have the biggest impact.
  • Among the respondents, 56 percent commented that breakthrough innovation in data security will impact the outcome of IoT initiatives.
  • In the same survey 52 percent of leading IoT thinkers said that efficiency-driven practices and business processes will have a big impact on the outcome of IoT initiatives.
  • A whopping 50 percent of respondents in the survey told that new avenues of revenue including innovative products and services will play a major role in the impact of IoT initiatives.
  • While 36 percent of respondents commented on the impact of increased ROI from IT infrastructure another 35 percent stressed on the cost saving mechanism and operational efficiency to have a bigger role in impacting the outcome of IoT.

Considering Life Span Of Data

Life Span Of IoT DataThroughout the better part of the 1990s, most of us were mainly focused on communicative data in motion mostly between two parties instead of focusing on the restive data in storage. Modern security for device level data fails because of this emphasis. So, now considering life span of data became more important than just ensuring the security of data transmission between devices.

In the world of devices, restive data or the stored data at rest is what we refer as data. The data always pass through a diverse array of interactions, transmission among devices, user activities, authentication processes, software deliveries, API interactions, etc.  By concentrating on the data interaction and communication, one cannot make a total audit of the data across a life span spread across different environments and interactions.

Considering Device Level Data

As the first generation security measure, PKI was introduced for encrypting and sharing secret messages only. Such measure was is very unequipped for monitoring huge volumes of data transmission among millions of devices. While machines or devices always leave a statement allowing easy verification of the integrated components over the lifetime of data, measures focused on transmission misses the track of security breaches at the device level.

Considering Security Vulnerabilities

IoT Data Security

One of the most common assumptions that continue to take rounds these days is that devices and the device level sensor data managed by the devices can be secured. In regard to this assumption, we must have an understanding of what we can secure and to what extent. To start with the basics, we must state the three components of any information security.

  • Confidentiality: This component does monitor, restrict and protect unsolicited access to sensitive data.
  • Integrity: This component ensures that the data remains in its proper state without any security compromise.
  • Accessibility: This component allows accessing the data with the proper authentication process.

In spite of the above-mentioned components used across security tools like encryption, firewalls, two-step authentication, etc. devices, software, security vulnerabilities are there. As security protocols and solutions are also evolving at rapid space, for some time these vulnerabilities can plague IT systems and connected devices. But in the long run with the increasing integration of security solutions and real-time data monitoring tools, these threats can be mitigated to a great extent.

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