Securing the IoT against cyber attack

Dirk Paessler, CEO of Paessler

The Internet of Things is perhaps the most significant IT revolution of our time in terms of it’s potential to change the way we do everything – from working to shopping.

But as its reach and influence on our lives continues to grow, attention must at some point turn from simply what IoT might be able to do for us, to how do we make sure that it doesn’t let us down.

From a security perspective there are a number of risks associated with migrating existing IT networks and devices on to the IoT, due to the large scale transfer of information that is required providing an ideal environment for cyber criminals, says Dirk Paessler is CEO of Paessler.

In addition, research from the Ponemon Institute, a research organisation focusing on privacy and data protection, found that 94% of risk management professionals believed that a security incident resulting from unsecured IoT devices “could be catastrophic”. This underlines the importance of ensuring high levels of cyber security as the IoT continues to grow, and begs the question of how can we keep it secure whilst also making the most of its undoubted benefits?

A growing threat

Today the threats to a company’s IT are more diverse than ever before. Viruses and Trojans are as big a threat as they have ever been, but beyond this, the proliferation of IoT presents even more opportunities for malware intrusion. IT has to work hard to address these risks; the challenge is to find a balance between new opportunities and greater flexibility on the one hand, and adequate security provision on the other.

However, it is not only malicious attackers that threaten a company’s data. Malfunctions and physical hazards can also present issues. Failures or misconfigured devices and applications, along with fires, floods or extreme heat can put huge pressure on a company’s IT infrastructure and that pressure will only grow with the rapid proliferation of IoT. All of these threats can be kept in check, but the question is how can businesses make sure that everything works in a synchronised way?

Prioritising security

The answer is a comprehensive cyber security strategy that can identify potential hazards, organise appropriate tools for protection and control this with one central solution – a so-called meta-security tool.

An IT monitoring solution is one such tool, allowing businesses to manage all of the various security solutions they use. In the first instance, it allows businesses to monitor the full range of traditional security tools. A comprehensive monitoring solution provides IT teams with this knowledge, and ensures that all of the various parts of an organisation’s infrastructure are functioning properly.

Similarly, it allows businesses to keep an eye on the ‘things’ that make up the IoT, whether that be physical control devices like sensors and video cameras or IoT-enabled industrial machinery, ensuring that all systems operate as expected, and act as an early warning system that notifies the relevant parties if any threats are detected.

Making the difference

Ultimately, IT monitoring enables a company to monitor functionality across all parts of its IT infrastructure, and also acts as a fall back in case conventional security tools fail. But the main benefit of an effective IT monitoring solution is that it provides administrators with clarity, giving them a complete and single overview of the network. This is particularly important in the context of IoT, where devices and other ‘things’ are being added and removed from the network on a regular basis.

With this in mind, when you consider the wide range of threats that can permeate an IT and IoT infrastructure, the question is not if a business should implement an IT monitoring solution but rather if it can afford not to if it wants to remain cyber secure.

The author of this blog is Dirk Paessler is CEO of Paessler

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow OR @jcIoTnow

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