Industry Trends

Innovation Insights: Filling IoT Connectivity and Security Gaps

By John Maddison | August 29, 2016

We’ve all heard about the growing proliferation of IoT devices. They are a critical component of the new digital economy, collecting and sharing information about a myriad of things - from smart appliances, irrigation systems, and shipping containers, to wireless energy meters, and mobile healthcare devices. The information they collect allows for more efficient inventory and manufacturing management, and can be mined for competitive advantages for everything like knowing that you need to immediately produce more green, left-handed widgets, or that a shipment of soybeans is coming into port and local pharmacies ought to stock up on your allergy nebulizers.

Of course, IoT introduces a number of critical challenges as well, not the least of which are, “how do we connect and manage so many devices?” and “how do we secure so many devices and so much traffic?”

Because most IoT devices are mobile, they tend to connect to the network via wireless access points. Since IoT wasn’t on the horizon when most wireless solutions were deployed, the growing volume of IoT and user devices is now overwhelming these access points. In addition, because most IoT devices do not have security installed, the need to apply security inspection and monitoring is creating a bottleneck.

The best strategy for IoT security is through the Secure Access. Which is why Fortinet has just announced the launch of our new FortiAP-U series of universal wireless access points, designed to provide organizations with the most flexible, enterprise-grade wireless solution on the market.

This new series of wireless access points provide the following essential solutions required to implement, manage, and grow a robust IoT-based access infrastructure:

1. Unlock IoT Access and Performance Demands

IT teams face severe challenges scaling their wireless edge to meet rising access demands. Fortinet’s new FortiAP-U universal access points have been designed to meet the wireless needs of the largest enterprises, with maximized bandwidth and device capacity. Multi-gigabit throughput and increased simultaneous connections allows them to support even the densest wireless requirements.

2. Protect IoT with the Fortinet Security Fabric

Since most IoT devices can’t run a security client, or even be patched, security needs to be applied at the point of access. The new FortiAP-U series wireless access points integrate advanced Security Fabric intelligence and protections directly into the wireless infrastructure. This enables:

  1. Secure Access Control – FortiAP-U devices provide real time authentication and authorization of IoT devices to prevent such things as device spoofing, and to enable device tracking and traffic monitoring.
  2. Security Embedded in the Access Point – FortiAP-U devices can also be fully integrated with the Fortinet Security Fabric to deliver unified protections for the network edge through robust security functionality and application controls. This allows IT teams to easily implement essential Secure Fabric protections for their IoT technologies, and seamlessly integrate them into the unified security strategy deployed across the distributed network environment - without compromising performance or functionality.
  3. Network Segmentation – The FortiAP-U series has been designed to provide dynamic access layer segmentation to better defend against emerging threats introduced by IoT devices and networks. By integrating FortiAP-U with the Security Fabric, organizations can dynamically route IoT traffic into its own secure network segment, thereby preventing an unauthorized user from monitoring or injecting malware into IoT traffic, as well as protecting the network from undetected or zero-day IoT malware.
  4. Specific Protection for IoT O/S vulnerabilities and exploits – Once IoT devices have been authenticated and segmented, the Security Fabric can accurately and efficiently monitor IoT traffic, identify IoT-based threats, collect and share threat intelligence, and impose specific protections designed to address IoT-specific vulnerabilities and ferret out IoT exploits.
  5. Securing IoT Applications – Finally, because the Fortinet Security Fabric is IoT-ready, it can identify and inspect IoT applications to detect unique threats targeted at IoT applications, devices, and traffic.


3. Simplify Management

However to make this all happen efficiently we need to automate security and access operations. The FortiAP-U series can automatically detect different types of controllers and management tools, and automatically connect to those deemed to be most suitable. This allows organizations to quickly deploy high-performance, high-capacity wireless access points on demand, without worrying about back-end compatibility, so they can focus on coverage and security, rather than on setting up a complex access infrastructure.


The new FortiAP-U series of wireless access points provide real time security inspection, unlock advanced internal segmentation strategies that are critical to defend against IoT threats, and allow devices to share threat intelligence across the Security Fabric in order to better monitor and respond to compromised devices or malicious traffic - anywhere across the distributed and mobile network. And it does this while maintaining the industry leading performance, capacity, and flexibility today’s IoT networks demand.