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Securing the IoT Ecosystem: Tips and Best Practices

Any physical device connected to the Internet or embedded with software and sensors is an Internet-of-Things (IoT) device. IoT devices are changing the world as we know it. We confront connected devices like cars, cameras, and printers daily. On an industrial level, IoT devices and machinery are transforming entire sectors. From the simplest use cases to the most radical technological events, IoT devices are part of the fabric of modern society. That’s why securing them is one of the most important challenges of our times.

Before we explore the nuances of securing IoT ecosystems, let us gain a broader understanding of the IoT landscape. By the end of 2026, the global IoT market will reach more than $650 billion. This rise is at a compound annual growth rate of 16.7% since 2021, when the market was worth around $300 billion.

According to McKinsey, the potential value of IoT devices could reach $12.5 trillion. The use cases that drive this potential value include factory, health, city, retail, vehicle, home, and work site contexts. IoT devices bestow numerous benefits on our world. However, the downside of IoT devices is that they are susceptible to significant security threats, many of which could have disastrous implications. That’s why businesses must focus on securing their IoT ecosystems. The ripple effects of doing so can impact not just current markets and societies but many future generations as well.

Contents

IoT Security Fundamentals

We’re soon going to explore some best practices that businesses can follow to keep their IoT ecosystems safe and secure. However, before doing so, let us answer some key questions about IoT security:

  • What is IoT security?
  • How does IoT security work?
  • How to secure IoT devices?
  • What security or other risks might you encounter with IoT?
  • Why is IoT security important?

What is IoT security?

IoT security is an area of enterprise security that focuses on fortifying connected devices, the networks they connect and communicate with, and the data they port.

How does IoT security work?

There are numerous kinds of IoT security. Certain forms of IoT security feature embedded security tools and mechanisms within connected devices. Others focus on securing the network instead of the device. In some forms of IoT security, firmware assessments play a large role.

How to secure IoT devices?

There are numerous strategies and techniques that businesses can employ to secure IoT devices. These include conducting software updates, segmenting networks, encrypting ported data, establishing firewalls, introducing multi-factor authentication, keeping up password hygiene, and elevating endpoint security to the top of their cybersecurity stack.

What security or other risks might you encounter with IoT?

While IoT devices provide numerous benefits to businesses from all sectors, they also pose risks. Those risks include data exposure, misconfigurations, suboptimal device management, ransomware attacks, botnets, API vulnerabilities, and poor passwords and credentials. Furthermore, the proliferation of IoT devices means that an enterprise’s attack surface expands significantly. This expansion of attack surface is alluring to threat actors, many of whom currently use artificial intelligence (AI) tools to deploy rapid cyberattacks. 

Why is IoT security important?

People could write entire books about how and why IoT devices and their security are important in our world. However, there’s one major reason why businesses need IoT security: data breaches. Data breaches are rampant and devastating, and threat actors often use connected devices as an entryway into enterprises’ IT estates. This could cause millions of dollars in damages as well as irrecoverable reputational harm. The success of IoT ecosystems wholly depends on the success of IoT security programs.

Best Practices to Secure IoT Ecosystems

The following are the top 10 best practices that businesses must follow to protect their connected devices.

1. Embrace Microsegmentation

The increase in IoT devices results in a broader attack surface. However, by segmenting their networks into smaller networks with specific controls and rules, businesses can prune down their attack surface. Microsegmentation ensures that attackers can’t use any random IoT device as a way to access a business’s crown jewels. It restricts lateral movement and reduces the potential blast radius of incidents.

2. Ensure Endpoint Visibility

It’s impossible to keep an IoT ecosystem safe without accounting for every single IoT device. Businesses must take inventory of their connected devices and establish mechanisms for 24/7 surveillance. By doing so, they will be able to analyze the behaviors of their endpoints and red-flag suspicious or anomalous activities.

3. Boost Password Hygiene

Using default passwords or setting up weak passwords can severely diminish the safety of IoT ecosystems. Businesses must ensure that they use complex passwords for all their IoT needs. More importantly, there must be unified password policies and protocols in place, which all employees and teams must diligently follow. 

4. Create Awareness Campaigns

Not all methods to secure IoT ecosystems involve technology. An important aspect of keeping connected devices safe is to ensure that the users and wielders of those devices know how to keep them safe. Therefore, businesses must design and regularly schedule awareness campaigns and gamified training camps so that their employees understand the implications and importance of IoT ecosystem security.

5. Introduce Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

While passwords provide one layer of protection, the introduction of MFA can boost the security of IoT ecosystems. MFA involves asking IoT device users for additional information to prove that they are legitimate users. The additional information includes a variety of factors, including location, a one-time password, or even biometric verification.

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6. Elevate API Security

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are the connective tissue that allows IoT devices to communicate and share data with various IT infrastructures. Since threat actors often use misconfigured APIs to facilitate data breaches, businesses must strengthen and secure their APIs. Some ways to secure APIs include leveraging API gateways, using SSL/TLS encryption, limiting traffic, and continuously monitoring them.  

7. Conduct Penetration Tests and Red-Team Exercises

The only real way businesses can test the capabilities of their IoT security is by simulating a real-world cyberattack. Penetration tests are a great way to test the integrity of IoT devices before deployment. Furthermore, periodic red-team exercises, as well as a range of internal and external audits, can help continuously ensure that connected devices remain safe from cyber threats.

8. Standardize Commissioning and Decommissioning Practices

The methods of procuring and disposing of IoT devices are often overlooked aspects of IoT security. When procuring, designing, or deploying new IoT devices, businesses should ensure that embedded security mechanisms, if any, meet their unique security needs. Furthermore, when decommissioning end-of-life IoT devices, it’s essential to wipe them off all their data. This is vital because threat actors have used decommissioned connected hardware to exfiltrate data and access enterprise networks. 

9. Ensure Strategic IoT Security

When businesses embrace IoT as a technology that can provide myriad advantages, they do so with strategy. Therefore, securing those same IoT devices must be strategy-bound as well. Securing IoT ecosystems should never be a haphazard process. Instead, businesses must have a clear picture of the risks their IoT devices pose. By knowing IoT security risks, businesses can more effectively harden and continuously optimize their IoT ecosystem.

10. Choose a Reputed Tech Partner

Securing an IoT ecosystem is not an easy job. There’s too much at stake for businesses to make mistakes with IoT security. Therefore, one of the most effective and responsible ways a business can tackle IoT security challenges is by working with an expert tech company like rinf.tech

Conclusion

In this article, we explored how businesses can secure their IoT ecosystems. We answered the questions “What is IoT security?”, “How does IoT security work,” “How to secure IoT devices,” “What security or other risks might you encounter with IoT,” and “Why is IoT security important?”

We also established ten tips and best practices to secure IoT ecosystems: embracing micro-segmentation, ensuring endpoint visibility, boosting password hygiene, creating awareness campaigns, introducing MFA, protecting APIs, conducting penetration tests, securing commissioning and decommissioning processes, and ensuring that all of the above abides by an overall strategy.

Lastly, working with a tech partner like rinf.tech can significantly strengthen IoT ecosystems. Securing IoT ecosystems should never come at the cost of operational performance, and that’s why rinf.tech is an optimal partner. With rinf.tech, security, and performance go hand in hand.

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