The global market for business IoT devices has grown steadily thanks to the broad range of capabilities this technology offers. The research firm McKinsey & Company estimated that the total global volume of connected IoT devices will be 43 billion by the end of 2023. That represents a three-fold increase in just the past four years.
As the install base of IoT devices increases, so does the attention of hackers and other bad actors. That means our security precautions need to advance at an even faster rate.
Internet of Things security challenges will require some unique solutions. This article explores one specific, often overlooked angle: the physical security of these powerful networked assets. It digs into some of the greatest security challenges this “converged” technology poses and offers some suggested best practices for addressing them.
IoT Security is About More than Just the Network
Internet of Things devices are powerful because they bring together physical and networked systems. It is converged technology that puts data collecting and physical control tools into settings where neither could exist side-by-side before.
That means IoT devices create a security convergence. For example, a physical attack on an IoT target could render your network vulnerable. And vice versa, a remote network-based attack could create a physical threat to your people or facility.
Types of IoT Devices You Must Pay Attention to
IoT technology comes in all shapes and sizes. But when it comes to thinking about business security, there are three main categories you must pay attention to.
Convergent IoT Security Challenges
If you want to know the best physical and network security measures to take, you first need to understand the unique threats of using IoT devices in your workplace. Some of the most common include:
IoT Security Best Practices
So those are some of the key security challenges companies can expect to face when introducing new IoT technology into the workplace. There is a lot to deal with, but you have many tools available to overcome these challenges.
Any company looking to purchase new building, technical, or handheld IoT equipment should follow some basic security best practices. We’ve collected some of the most important ones here.
Look for personal devices staff brought into the workplace, items your teams might have purchased from discretionary budgets that didn’t make it into official records, and any other IoT assets in the workplace that slipped through the cracks. Add these to your master inventory. Then schedule your next inventory update. Annual updates are a recommended minimum.
Just because an IoT device comes with a wireless connection doesn’t mean you have to use it. Every network connection introduces a new security vulnerability into your workplace.
Evaluate whether you’re going to use each device's sensing or data gathering capabilities. If the answer is no, then disable its network connection.
You can have all the hardened network and physical security in the world, but if your people don’t know how to use it or assess threats, you’re going to be vulnerable. So you need to secure the human layer.
Train your employees on how to use IoT devices safely and securely. Ensure they know the possible threats to IoT infrastructure your organization might face.
Most organizations follow regular maintenance and update schedules for IT devices. But IoT infrastructure devices are often not equipment your IT team is used to interacting with. So make sure your newly-networked IoT infrastructure is added to your regular software update schedules.
As with ensuring newly-networked devices get updates, you also need to start monitoring them for ongoing network security issues. You can’t rely on endpoint protection—like antivirus software—as most IoT devices don’t run operating systems that can support those measures. Instead, your IT security will be network-level, needing real-time attention.
Mobile IoT devices, like smartphones, tablets, and handheld scanners, are popular targets for theft. So, in addition to the network security measures we’ve discussed so far, you also need to provide improved physical security and management for these assets. Smart asset lockers are an excellent tool for doing that.
Smart lockers secure your mobile IoT assets. Connected management software gathers real-time intelligence on how they’re used, where they are, and who has them signed out. Advanced smart locker systems also offer built-in charging for your IoT devices, content surveillance to monitor their health, and workflow support to improve their use.
IoT Will Power the Future—As Long As You Secure It Today
IoT infrastructure and mobile devices can deliver the competitive advantage you need to get ahead. That is, as long as you secure and manage them properly.
Internet of Things assets are converged technology that require proper care as both network and physical devices. Your entire organization can benefit from their use, but it must understand how to manage them securely and efficiently.
Want to learn more about IoT security?
Check out our Guide Physical Security 101: How to Start Building a World-Class Security Program
About the Author
Vice President of Marketing
Jay oversees marketing and strategic partnerships at Real Time Networks and has over three decades of experience in leadership roles in the financial services and technology industries.