While there are general best practices, such as encryption, that extend across all areas of software security, the Internet of Things (IoT) era introduces new security requirements. The IoT security approach differs from that of other platforms in a few key ways: product lifetime, scale of production, and operation mode.
IoT devices have a much longer life cycle than other computing devices. While a laptop or smartphone may be expected to last three to five years, an IoT device may be used for ten or more years. Due to this unique longevity factor, IoT security programs must consider the following facts:
- The device may be reinstalled and configured multiple times, and operated by a vast and evolving user base.
- The device may not be equipped with antivirus or malware detection software.
- The device may be difficult or impossible to upgrade.
As a result of these factors, IoT must incorporate better hardware-based security. Robust protection at the core level will help the device endure through several eras of security threats.
Production Scale: The scale at which IoT devices are produced has several security ramifications, including:
- Devices typically have a standard and consistent configuration.
- Many IoT units use a predetermined username and password, and the same credentials may be used across multiple devices.
- Device handlers or end users may not realize the importance of securing devices due to their volume and prevalence in certain environments (for example, a retail warehouse with thousands of scanners).
The best way businesses can combat these factors is by enforcing standard security requirements across all devices. Do not make exceptions for strong username and password rules just because the device falls under the IoT category.
Operation Mode: Some IoT devices are controlled by other machines and may not ever be used by a human operator. This lack of equipment for human interaction has the following usability-related security repercussions:
- IoT devices often have limited display and cannot directly communicate their system status on the machine interface.
- Input to the machine is also limited; this makes it difficult to directly enter any custom commands.
- Due to the limited display and input capabilities, it may not be quickly evident when a security threat is present or when software is not upgraded to the most secure version.
In order to ensure secure and complete management of IoT devices, administrators must employ remote management and health monitoring tools. This will help them stay up to date with the device performance, status, and overall security.
IoT devices fall into a different category than the standard smart machine. By adapting the security approach for IoT devices to their unique life cycle, production volume, and operation mode, administrators can experience a successful and secure IoT deployment.