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Why IoT Security Should Be the Primary Focus of the IoT-Enabled Manufacturing Ecosystem

With IoT capturing the imagination of the manufacturing environment, every nook and corner of the production landscape is singing praises of IoT-driven solutions and their advantages, including quick time-to-market, reduced costs of manufacturing, exponentially high productivity, and the list goes on. Across verticals that threaten to go the commodity route, immediate availability of assets and their effortless management are two critical differentiators that they can bank on. However, the many examples of IoT security breaches are the biggest concerns that the manufacturing ecosystem is battling.

The avalanche of IoT technologies implemented across production plants with zero focus on security is having serious repercussions. IoT-enabled manufacturing ecosystems have become active breeding grounds for hackers who gain access to sensitive corporate information or maliciously take over asset control. Thus the realm of connected devices extending to dangerous malware attacks and other IoT security breaches is a mega-challenge that the manufacturing industry is desperate to overcome.

The deluge of IoT devices as against IoT security awareness

Recent reports and studies indicate that the manufacturing vertical is leading the race of adopting IoT solutions for increasing operational efficiency. With a significant percentage of IoT attention and investments riding on manufacturing, the stress of overcoming the hurdles of security is equally high. Another report acknowledged the growing concern about cybersecurity issues around IoT solutions, which was listed at the topmost pitfall of digital transformation. The industry has many reported and unreported instances of security breaches related to IoT devices. IoT-focused attacks through malwares and botnet infestations such as Mirai, Reaper, Triton, and Poison Ivy use multiple ever-evolving hacking methodologies including cracking passwords, complete operational shutdowns, or targeted attacks on assets based on a constantly updated vulnerability list. Despite these widely discussed IoT-related security breaches, connected devices and magical IoT solutions are flooding the market with not enough talk about security features.

However, the awareness about such paralyzing attacks aimed straight at the nerve centers of manufacturing units is encouraging stakeholders to look for options.

Why are IoT sensors and devices prone to security breaches?

IoT solutions create a connected M2M environment across the manufacturing ecosystem. In the absence of a robust security framework, this extended network is a data goldmine that can be misused. Elaborate IoT initiatives place a lot of focus on security. However, small and medium-level projects do no consider security as critical game-changers. The general assumption stakeholders make is based on the physical size of the devices and their limited memory and computational capacity. However, it’s always recommended to take the guidance of tech experts immaterial to the extent of your IoT implementation. Hackers often target such simple devices given the ease with which they can gain access to their data and functionalities

Hence, every IoT implementation in a manufacturing environment must consider security as one of the critical loopholes that need to be sealed.

Overcoming IoT security challenges

Resolving security issues during IoT solution implementation requires adopting a wide variety of solutions, from complying with the latest regulatory requirements such as NIST guidelines on implementing security in IoT devices and CIS’s Controls for IoT to running regular audits to ensure that your IoT security protocols are up-to-date.

Ensure that every IoT device is visible to you

“Seeing is believing” – this is especially true for IoT devices. Hence be sure that you have complete visibility of all your connected assets – right from every sensor to monitors. Every connected asset (and unmonitored devices) and connector must be accounted for with a detailed inventory. Every new element connected to the IoT environment and every update or revision must be critically tested and tracked. Run a quick scheduled check of all your IoT-related inventory to validate their security parameters. In addition, remember to assess their usage patterns. Such a transparent IoT network helps you easily monitor every device to prevent security attacks. The network also detects suspicious activities and potential attacks in a timely manner.

Stay up-to-date

Audit your IoT environment to be sure that the devices are not depending on an outdated security protocol. Such environments are easy targets for security infiltrations. Although this can be quite a challenge for SMEs, seek expert help in reviewing the need for security updates. In addition, remember to upgrade versions as required. Do no ignore even minor bugs and initiate mitigative responses immediately.

Start from the basics – user information checks

Interestingly, these basic pointers often go unheeded, with devices using obvious user information that are potential threats to IoT security. Ensure that you review these weak user information details and initiate corrective actions immediately. The same extends to revising the default configurations of IoT device protocols and tracking them stringently.

 Package IoT devices as a separate unit

Use ACLs to separate out IoT devices from other connected devices. This approach helps secure the IoT devices behind robust firewalls, security protocols, and permission-based access protocols. Use proxy devices that provide a strong security coverage. Configure them to instantly alert and block possible attacks in a timely manner.

Audit – audit – audit

Although visibility, strong user information, firewalls, and encryption secure your IoT devices, you cannot discount performing your security checks and audits. Ensure that you evaluate all your IoT-based inventories, device performance, and compliance. During this process, consider their risk for security breaches, and check whether real-time alert protocols are available.

Creating awareness

Although ensuring a secure IoT environment is a technological responsibility, every organizational stakeholder must understand the dangers of security breaches. They must comprehend the damages data compromise can cause and the importance of securing sensitive data. They must also realize the need to keep critical data access information confidential. Additionally, train stakeholders about initiating immediate response protocol the moment they identify any attack. The need to be calm and focused toward regaining routine operations are key aspects of this awareness exercise.

 

The manufacturing industry is now on full throttle mode as far as IoT implementation is concerned. Although this is great news, you must definitely pay equal importance to securing your connected IoT device network. If you miss this critical step, you run the risk of inviting catastrophic repercussions. So, take a step back and assess the security of your IoT environment.

We make IoT secure, accessible, accurate, and manageable, not just in India but also across the world. Connect with us today and we’ll show you how you can secure your IoT environment with robust and stringent solutions.