There will be 20 billion IoT devices by 2020, according to Gartner.

IoT devices are physical objects embedded with sensors that can connect to an IT network and communicate with other devices and software applications such as mobile phone apps, desktops, printers, and other office/home appliances.

Imagine your surveillance cameras, air conditioners, coffee machines, and office equipment having sensors and actuators to monitor, communicate, and control their own actions. Pretty cool, right? Maybe … maybe not.

If your IoT devices are unsecured, cybercriminals can hijack your CCTV cameras, intercept network communications, and access confidential documents stored on your desktop or being printed by your printer.

Such IoT attacks cost businesses like yours millions of dollars and even force them to shut down. According to Symantec, IoT attacks increased 600 percent between 2016 and 2017.

Small businesses that plan to implement IoT must also prioritize IoT security. Failing to deploy IoT security technologies in the implementation phase increases your vulnerability to cyber risks, such as DDoS attacks, which can stall your whole business.

This article discusses the major features and benefits of IoT security technologies, market trends, and the pace at which this emerging technology is expected to become mainstream.

IoT security technologies prevent cyberthreats

IoT security technologies are software solutions that protect your IoT devices.

According to Cradlepoint’s State of IoT 2018 report:

69 percent businesses plan to adopt IoT security solutions

In addition, 41 percent of businesses are concerned about IoT security issues. A report notes that 37 percent of businesses aren’t confident of securing IoT data. And in a survey, 86 percent of IT security managers said their business needs to be more aware of IoT threats.

The Mirai botnet attack—a fleet of thousands of infected IoT devices, including CCTV cameras and routers—is an example. It crippled multiple businesses with massive DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks and showed everyone how damaging unsecured IoT devices can be.

However, shunning a useful technology such as IoT, which promises to add trillions of dollars to the global economy, will stall business growth. The ideal way to navigate this situation is to adopt tough IoT security measures on your connected devices. This will ensure that threats are detected and addressed as soon as possible.

According to Gartner analysts Saniye Burcu Alaybeyi, Ruggero Contu, and Barika L Pace:(1)

“IoT security is part of digital security, and it addresses software, hardware, network and data protection for digital initiatives involving IoT. IoT security shares many of the same technologies and processes as IT, operational technology (OT) and physical security. IoT security controls create trust, as well as provide safe, reliable, private and resilient digital systems for digital business.”

IoT security technologies include a variety of aspects such as, “digital trust, tamper-resistant device hardening techniques in hardware and firmware, secure cloud integration, device discovery, event detection and response systems, and improved consulting and system integration.”

These technologies automatically detect new IoT devices on your network and verify their authenticity by seeking appropriate passwords or biometrics. The security measures also secure all communication between the device and your network.

In the next sections, we will cover the essential features, benefits, and ideal pace of adopting IoT security technologies.

6 must-have IoT security technology features

IoT security solutions offer a variety of capabilities including trust authentication, device detection, vulnerability scanning, risk assessment, and trusted communication between devices.

As software vendors add capabilities to enhance their IoT solutions, this is a list of the must-have security technology features you need:

  1. Device discovery: IoT devices can be any physical device with sensors or actuators connected to an IT network, such as watches, shoes, or a pacemaker. This makes discovering IoT devices a challenge. Your IoT security solution should be able to identify specific IoT devices on the network by monitoring inbound and outbound network traffic and keeping a database of such devices.
  2. Data encryption: It’s considered the heart of the IoT security ecosystem. It ensures that the sensitive data exchanged between connected devices is hard to decipher even if there’s a hack. Cryptographic algorithms and data encryption keys are used to secure IoT device communications.
  3. Authentication: Users must authenticate IoT devices before accessing them. Authentication methods include use of passwords, biometrics, two-factor authentication, or digital certificates. Access logs also keep a trail of the updates/changes made to IoT devices.
  4. Brute force protection: This feature detects and prevents brute force attacks or remote hacking by limiting the number of connection attempts to any IoT device. Authentication methods, such as passwords, antivirus solutions, and endpoint protection tools, act as a line of defense. Once brute force attacks are detected and blocked, the solution blacklists the malicious IP addresses.
  5. Security analytics: IoT security technologies use security-related data from IoT devices to detect anomalies and predict future threats. Security analytics features help users collect, monitor, and report IoT device data. Technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithms, enhance this capability.
  6. API security: Insecure APIs connected through IoT are a common data security vulnerability. API security is ensured by a secure end-to-end API management solution that supports authentication and authorization features. You also need to secure the storage and transfer of sensitive information with digital certificates.

The number of vulnerable entry points and network traffic increases with the addition of IoT devices. Therefore, strengthen your network security with firewalls, antivirus, intrusion detection technologies, and SIEM (security information and event management) solutions as well.

Detect threats early, improve decision-making

IoT security technologies help you detect and evaluate anomalies and cyber risks in the IoT network before they turn dangerous and cause system downtime or blackouts. In addition to these primary benefits, here are the other benefits of adopting IoT security technologies:

chart showing 3 benefits of adopting IoT security technology

  • Prevent DDoS attacks: Massive DDoS attacks involve hijacking unsecured IoT devices, such as surveillance cameras, thermostats, web cameras, and smart watches, and then installing malware in them. IoT security technologies will ensure improved device protection through authentication methods, brute-attack prevention mechanisms, and security analytics. These measures can also improve data privacy and the overall security of your network.
  • Make better decisions: IoT devices are a treasure trove of data. Collecting and analyzing this data will help you identify patterns of network requests. Based on these, you can make data-driven decisions to improve your IT security, customer experience management, predictive maintenance, fleet management, and smart metering.
  • Reduce BYOD risks: Bring your own device (BYOD) is when employees are allowed to use their personal gadgets for work. But connecting personal devices, such as mobile phones, laptops, and smart watches, to your business network puts you at risk. An IoT security solution can help you detect new devices and automatically deploy security measures on them to protect your network.

Market trends influencing the development of IoT security technologies

Protecting IoT devices is difficult as they can be of different types and not always easy to detect. As most IoT devices are physical devices with sensors or actuators and limited computing capacity, creating security technologies that work on these can be difficult.

Despite the challenges, IoT security technologies are rapidly being improved. Software vendors, such as Cisco and CA Technologies, have improved their IoT device authentication capabilities by using open identity management protocols like SAML.

Here’s a list of recent market developments and trends to help you understand the pace at which IoT security technologies are developing. We have also included examples of how vendors are adopting these trends to improve their IoT security software.

AI for IoT security

AI is being used to model the behavior of IoT endpoints. These systems are being used to test the current behavior of IoT endpoints to detect anomalies and prevent threats. AI is also expected to help in device discovery by identifying different IoT device types and maintaining a database of this information.

Market developments: Various security solution providers, such as Indegy, have included advanced analytical models in their solutions. These models can detect IoT problem areas, monitor performance, and send timely alerts.

Network protection tools with IoT security features

Protecting your IoT network is a primary requirement and software vendors are adding new features to their network protection capabilities. These include combining traditional protection mechanisms, such as antiviruses and firewalls, with complex standards and protocols.

Market developments: IoT security solution providers, such as Bayshore Networks, use automated systems for faster network intrusion alerting as well as better passive network monitoring and threat detection.

Embedding trust and control in IoT systems

Allowing an IoT device developed by a not-so-well-known player may lead to trust issues between the device and the network. Embedded trust or hardware devices that establish “root of trust” in IoT systems using authentication, cryptography, and other methods can secure IoT systems.

Market developments: Some IoT security technology vendors, such as Unbound Tech, provide secure keys that you can add to your IoT devices and central server to improve authentication and trust. Software company Symantec offers “roots of trust” for authentication and code signing.

Adoption of IoT security solutions to accelerate in 5-10 years

According to Gartner, worldwide IoT security spending will be at $3.1 billion in 2021, up from $1.2 billion in 2017.

The imminent rise of IoT devices to 20 billion—both consumer and industrial—will require IoT security technologies. The demand for these technologies will be further accelerated as new regulations governing IoT devices come into force.

Graphic of business sentiment on IoT security regulations

IoT security regulations are essential (Source)

According to Gartner’s “Hype Cycle for Endpoint and Mobile Security (2018)” report (full content available to clients), IoT security is an emerging technology expected to reach mainstream adoption or maturity in the next five to 10 years.

Here’s how we expect the adoption of IoT security technologies to shape up in the next 10 years:

  • Short term (0-2 years): IoT security solutions will see slow adoption as businesses continue to experiment with IoT technologies.
  • Medium term (2-5 years): There will be increased adoption of IoT security technologies as the number of IoT devices and security concerns increase.
  • Long term (5-10 years): The adoption rate of IoT security technologies will accelerate rapidly, driven by the need for compliance with new IoT regulations and heightened security awareness.

Currently, the adoption of IoT security technologies is in the nascent stage even among small businesses. For small businesses, adoption will continue to be slow in the next few years. But as more vendors enter the market, bringing down the cost of IoT security technologies, there will be a rise in adoption.

IoT regulations and improved IoT security awareness will also accelerate the adoption of IoT security technologies among small businesses. We can expect that by 2029, IoT security technologies will be commonly and widely used by small businesses.

Which industries will see faster adoption of IoT security technologies?

The pace of adoption of IoT security technologies will likely be faster in financial services and healthcare industries, where IoT is widely used and data privacy is strictly enforced. A health record with social security number, job details, and address is valued at almost $5,000, which necessitates protecting the IoT devices that store this private medical and financial data.

Other industries that will lead in adopting IoT security technologies include manufacturing, utilities, and transportation. This is because IoT is already being widely used here.

Recommended actions: How to adopt IoT security technologies

As you plan your small business IoT strategy, remember to include security elements right from the design or implementation stage.

5 tips to help you design your IoT security strategy:

  1. Incorporate security during IoT implementation: Use your own IT team or a third-party security consulting service to assess IoT integration points in your network. Fifty-two percent of organizations fail to secure their IoT devices in the beginning and are more likely to fall prey to cyber attacks.
  2. Record all your IoT devices and assess risk exposure: Ensure visibility by maintaining a database of all your IoT devices, including small sensors and large equipment. Use security assessments to evaluate IoT risks and take necessary measures, such as employing authentication tools, antiviruses, and threat detection mechanisms, to mitigate the risks.
  3. Analyze IoT security compliance regulations: Ensure that your IoT devices follow all current data protection regulations such as GDPR. Watch out for new regulations specific to IoT devices and take necessary steps to ensure that your IoT systems remain compliant.
  4. Invest in digital risk management solutions: As your network grows, employ risk management solutions such as Emergynt and IDRR. These manage cloud and mobile apps, APIs, ML algorithms, etc., to prepare your business for quickly adopting IoT security technologies.
  5. Develop in-house IoT security expertise: In-house IoT security experts will help you quickly address issues arising from a large number of IoT devices. As IoT technologies are still developing, train your workforce on relevant IoT security topics such as encryption and privacy controls.

Additional resources

(1) Gartner Hype Cycle for Endpoint and Mobile Security 2018 (full report available to clients)

Note: The information contained in this article has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. The applications selected are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations.

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