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IoT Security Overview

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of devices that connect and communicate via the internet. IoT covers a range of devices including laptops and smartphones, wearables, connected home appliances, and connected cars, which all need to be protected with IoT device security best practices.

Connected devices are becoming increasingly prevalent in the home and the workplace as the IoT continues to expand. IoT devices connect to smartphones and laptops, as well as sensors that generate an ever-growing mass of data about people, their personal lives, and their employers. Any device, system, or vehicle that connects via the internet could have IoT device vulnerabilities that can lead to them leaking sensitive personal and financial information. And, with more and more devices becoming interconnected, the opportunities for hackers to compromise security increase.

This is becoming more likely due to the commoditization of IT, which makes applications, programs, and services quicker to access and deploy. Ease of use can go against security practices, with people using weak passwords, poorly configured devices, and lax security settings.

The risk of attack increases as users connect personal devices to their work networks. For example, syncing their fitness tracker to a smartphone connected to a corporate network or their office Wi-Fi network could give a hacker an avenue into their organization. It is therefore crucial for organizations to implement and follow IoT security best practices to keep their devices and users secure.

Why It Matters to Develop IoT Best Practices

Unlike the traditional cybersecurity approach, which typically involves securing hardware or software, IoT sees the cyber and physical spaces converge. Many IoT devices are not big enough to include the compute, memory, or storage capabilities required to directly implement the necessary level of security. Furthermore, many IoT devices are configured to "phone home,’" which increases the risk of a cyberattack, and collect more data than they need to.

Therefore, protecting IoT devices from hackers relies on safeguarding the devices themselves and providing secure connectivity between devices, data storage, and IT environments like the cloud. Manufacturers must consider security at every stage of their software development process by following the Security Development Lifecycle (SDL), which ensures security is addressed at each of the seven phases of software development:

  1. Training phase: Introduces concepts for developing secure software, from secure coding and design to testing and threat modeling 
  2. Requirements phase: Maps out the privacy and security issues of a project, such as regulatory requirements
  3. Design phase: Ensures security layers are established around all software features
  4. Implementation phase: Ensures the organization uses approved tools, removes unsafe functions, and performs the appropriate analysis
  5. Verification phase: Ensures the organization’s code meets its privacy and security requirements
  6. Release phase: Enables the organization to monitor for and quickly respond to security incidents
  7. Respond phase: Ensures the organization can quickly and effectively execute an incident response plan in the event of an attack or breach

IoT Security Best Practices: Key Recommendations

Following IoT device security best practices is critical to keeping users, devices, and data secure at all times. IoT security begins with creating and documenting a strategy that integrates with an organization’s general IT strategy and overall business plan. It should cover every business area that uses the organization’s IoT network. 

An effective IoT security strategy must set out the security measures that need to be implemented and how these will be monitored or reviewed over time. It must also offer in-depth visibility into the organization’s IT architecture and endpoints to ensure the entire business is covered against IoT threats.

Best practices for IoT security include:

Key Recommendations for IoT Security

IoT Endpoint Protection

A critical step to securing IoT devices is hardening them through IoT endpoint protection. Hardening endpoints involves plugging vulnerabilities in high-risk ports, such as Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP), wireless connections, and unencrypted communications. It is also vital to protect devices from malicious code injection.

Endpoint protection enables organizations to safeguard their networks against advanced attacks, such as the latest malware and ransomware strains. It also secures devices at the network edge, allowing security teams to gain complete visibility of their network, obtain real-time insight into which devices are connected to it, and reduce their attack surface.

IoT Gateway Security

Enterprises can also protect their IoT devices using IoT gateway security, which enforces internet access policies and prevents unwanted software, such as malware, from accessing user connections. 

Secure Web Gateway (SWG) includes vital features like application control, deep Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) and secure sockets layer (SSL) inspection, remote browser isolation, and Uniform Resource Locator (URL) filtering. This is crucial as organizations migrate to the cloud and enable remote connections. It helps to prevent security risks for web-based traffic and protects IoT devices from external and internal cyberattacks.

Connections can also be secured by threat monitoring solutions that prevent data leaks and virtual private networks (VPNs), which encrypt browsing data and prevent users’ internet activity from being snooped upon by hackers. 

Securing Cloud API

Cloud application programming interfaces (APIs) enable IoT applications and systems to communicate and integrate. They play a significant role in connecting services and transferring data. This means a broken or hacked API could result in a massive data breach. It is therefore vital to secure cloud APIs through the use of authenticationencryption, tokens, and API gateways. 

For example, web API security secures data as it is transferred across the internet, and REST APIs encrypt data and internet connections to secure data shared between servers and devices.

Developing a Secure Network

Developing a secure network connection ensures adequate access control is in place. This guarantees only secure, authenticated, or verified devices are allowed to connect to the network.

Network security begins with setting up a secure firewall. It is then essential to deploy security tools and practices like multi-factor authentication (MFA) that secure devices every time users attempt to connect to the network. It is also crucial to keep authentication keys safe, install updated antivirus and antimalware software, and continuously monitor network activity to keep devices and users secure.

Up-to-date Data Encryption

Encryption is critical to securing data in motion when it is transferred between devices or onto the internet. IoT encryption is typically through asymmetric and symmetric encryption methods. Symmetric encryption uses a single cryptographic key to encrypt and decrypt data, while asymmetric encryption uses public and private keys and offers an enhanced level of security.

Protected Data Storage

IoT devices and sensors are creating ever-increasing volumes of sensitive data, from financial and personal information to biometric data, stored on cloud-based or hardware storage solutions. So it is crucial to have security in place to ensure this information is secure when being stored or transferred.

Protecting data storage includes effective, updated antivirus solutions and monitoring and scanning tools that cover the network against real-time IoT threats. It is important to have features like flexible reporting and scanning alongside notification systems, antimalware, and a centralized management console that provides deep visibility into network activity.

How Fortinet Can Help

Fortinet provides a range of IoT solutions that help organizations keep their IoT devices, networks, and users secure against emerging, sophisticated security threats. Fortinet FortiGuard Labs provides enhanced management, discovery, and control of IoT devices, which enables organizations to block unknown devices. FortiGuard also ensures IoT devices are assigned to local networks, which reduces the work required to manage them in customer environments. 

The Fortinet Security Fabric increases organizations’ visibility across their networks while enhancing security. Fortinet also instills zero-trust network access (ZTNA), which only allows approved devices to gain access to a network, thus preventing cybersecurity threats.


Why is it important to implement IoT Security Best Practices?

 It is important for businesses to implement and follow IoT security best practices to keep their devices and users secure.

Why is it important to protect IoT devices?

Protecting IoT devices from hackers relies on safeguarding the devices themselves and providing secure connectivity between devices, data storage, and IT environments like the cloud. 

Best practices for IoT security include what?

  • IoT Endpoint Protection
  • IoT Gateway Security
  • Securing Cloud API
  • Developing a Secure Network
  • Up-to-date Data Encryption
  • Protected Data Storage