Why is Cybersecurity Important in IoT?
The internet of things, or IoT, is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. IoT cybersecurity is highly important because while all of the ‘things’ in the Internet of Things will constantly be transmitting and receiving data, this information can also be compromised. Not only is there more data being shared through the IoT, but more sensitive data is being shared and as a result, the risks are exponentially greater.
As an example of the risks that come with IoT, imagine a smart home with a garage door opener. This garage door opener has the added functionality of being able to deactivate the home alarm upon entry. While this might be convenient for the homeowners, there is now the problem that the alarm system can potentially be deactivated when only the garage door opener is compromised. There are a broad range of connectable home devices, including TVs, thermostats, door locks, home alarms, smart home hubs, garage door openers, and so on. This creates a myriad of connection points for hackers to gain entry into IoT ecosystems.
The IoT ecosystem is made up of many different elements, from the IoT device itself, or the endpoint, to gateways and routers, communication protocols, platforms and APIs and on to the cloud, with data moving in both directions. Each layer in the IoT stack can be difficult to secure because there is a lot of fragmentation across different elements. Security is not a one-touch task but an ongoing measure that requires constant monitoring and updates to apply any needed security patches.
IoT has come a long way from its proof-of-concept decade. Organizations have seen success in IoT and rapid adoption might begin to occur across the industrial, healthcare, and asset-management sectors. A large area of excitement in IoT is automation through machine learning and artificial intelligence, where people can begin to place trust in intelligent machines acting without human intervention. Top-level security is moving from a must to an absolute necessity.
The GSMA, a global organization with the goal of unifying the mobile ecosystem, has developed the IoT SAFE initiative. This creates the ability to have device-level security by making the SIM card the trusted source of security. If devices coming off the factory floor are already built with security in place through an IoT SAFE SIM card, then organizations and end users have a good head start in securing the entire technology stack.
The Decade of IoT coming ahead has the potential to see innovation that supports initiatives for sustainability, quality of life, and so much more. Security should grow and innovate alongside it, it is a collaborative effort. Stakeholder buy-in is required, from device manufacturers to cloud service providers. Reducing the fragmentation is essential to see ultimate success.