Protecting IoT devices from cyberattacks: A critical missing piece

August 11, 2017 // By Alan Grau, Icon Labs
When it comes to protecting IoT devices from cyber attacks, both device hardening and security appliance approaches each has its supporters, but there are trade-offs between “device-centric” and “appliance-centric.”

Attacks on Internet of Things (IoT) systems continue to make headlines. All devices on publicly accessible networks are being targeted. While the use of IoT devices is increasing at an unprecedented rate, security for these vulnerable devices is painfully and unnecessarily lagging behind.

After great financial expense from DDOS attacks and identity and data theft, awareness of the problem is finally growing. Studies utilizing ICS system honeypots have shown internet-connected ICS devices have been attacked within 24 hours of connection to the internet. In our discussions with customers, we commonly hear reports of newly provisioned IoT gateways being probed within 45 minutes.

Industry groups are developing standards, requiring certifications, and pushing legislations. Yet with the excitement to get new devices, software, and services into production, manufacturers continue to deliver products loaded with the security equivalent of a “wing and a prayer”.

Companies building IoT and other connected devices must ensure their devices are protected from these attacks. But where do they start?

What steps can the device developers and manufacturers take to ensure their devices are protected? Can they rely on having strong security built into the devices they deploy? Or must they assume all endpoints have limited built-in security, and integrate them into a network relying upon using security appliances for protection?

Each approach has supporters, but there are tradeoffs between the “device-centric” and “appliance-centric” approaches to IoT cyber security.

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