4 min reading
21 December 2022
21 December 2022
A Step-by-Step Guide to Establishing IoT Security
Taking the necessary steps to ensure that you have a secure Internet of Things (IoT) is essential for the safety and security of your business. However, the main question here is how to create a secure IoT network. Online security vulnerabilities are usually more common than hardware security breach. That is why it should be addressed in the first place. Having a reliable and secure software update process is critical to maintaining the security of your devices and systems. It is also important to control who can gain access to network devices and how network segmentation is organized. We understand that it might pose a difficulty for you. That’s why we developed a step-by-step guide that will walk you through the process.
Make Sure to Have Regular Updates
First, it is important to understand the different update techniques available to prevent IoT vulnerabilities. Some are simple and require little maintenance, while others are complex and difficult to implement, making the entire network vulnerable. In order to decide which techniques to employ, you will need to determine the type of software update needed, as well as the timing of updates.
Software updates are available in different formats, including over-the-air (OTA) methods, firmware updates, and cloud storage updates. OTA methods provide an efficient solution for delivering updates to a large number of IoT devices connected. However, they are also prone to problems such as bandwidth constraints and an unstable internet connection.
Firmware Versions Updates
Firmware updates are important because they can address critical flaws in the device. However, they can also be a security risk, if not done correctly. One way to protect the firmware update process is to use a digital signature. This will help prevent attackers from using a man-in-the-middle attack to gain access to the underlying software.
Firmware updates are also important for the life cycle management of IoT-connected devices, as they can be a valuable tool for fixing vulnerabilities in the device. A successful firmware update can enable your device to function properly, even when a vendor goes out of business or the device is discontinued in production.
While it is possible to download updates directly from the server, this is not always the best option in terms of network architecture security. In many cases, it is more efficient to use a centralized update platform to deliver updates to all smart devices connected to the same network. There are also reusable cloud services available to providers, which can offer a tailor-made solution for all devices.
Test IoT System
Another recommended IoT security measure to get the most out of your software and hardware update is to test it. In many cases, a small number of devices can be tested to find vulnerabilities and discover what types of updates are actually needed to achieve maximum security. This can be important if you are planning to upgrade a large number of devices, or if you are looking to identify and fix security flaws in the technology.
The best way to test an IoT device’s software update is to deploy a small group of smart devices, with identical software, system configuration, and bandwidth. This allows you to test the effectiveness of the update while identifying the features that are important for the device’s operation. Using a test group to identify the security best practices for updating your IoT devices will make the process easier to manage.
If you have multiple IoT devices with different features to update, the best approach is to adopt a scalable update solution, such as a software provisioning service. This will enable you to make updates and rollbacks to all the devices you have, without wasting bandwidth and power.
When we are talking about security concerns and their prevention, it is necessary to pay attention to hardware as well. Quite often smart devices and especially gateways have to be deployed in challenging environments, which require robust hardware enclosure. Many consumers don’t know what to pay attention to choosing hardware, so we’ve made you a small list:
- IP 67 certification (if expected to be deployed outdoors)
- Hardened enclosure
- Battery life durability
- Backhaul options
This list is not extensive but essential if you want to build a secure IoT network. We have to mention, as well, that TEKTELIC hardware is secure and we follow the security posture we are talking about. A good example is our carrier-grade gateways line and IP67-graded products.
From the gateway portfolio, we can outline the most versatile KONA Macro IoT Gateway. It is ideal for mid-size outdoor deployments, fully integrated, with extensive battery life. It has IP67 certification, follows compliance standards for B Class gateways, and is easily integrated into any IoT solution. KONA Macro has lighting protection and an embedded RF Cavity filter, so it can be deployed near paging and cellular radios without receiving any interference from them. All the critical data is securely sent and received in encrypted packages, so you don’t have to worry that third-party will access the sensitive data you transmit. As for backhaul options, it has ETH, 3G, and 4G connectivity, giving customers the ability to choose how to better integrate a gateway into the IoT ecosystem.
We cannot fail but mention our PELICAN EX outdoor tracking device as well. This IoT device is special because it has ATEX certification and can be utilized even in industrial settings with combustible gases, vapors, and dust. PELICAN EX is designed for tracking assets indoors and outdoors. This smart device also accommodates event-based startup, so battery life won’t be affected when assets are not on the move.
As a summary of the secure hardware of an IoT device or gateway, we want to touch upon the testing process. For example, we test our outdoor gateways placing them outdoors during Canadian winters and with total power shutdowns to test their durability. TEKTELIC thoroughly tests its IoT devices as well to ensure they are secure and ready to work smoothly for years.
Choose Reliable Networking Devices and Routers
Keeping your networking devices and routers secure is a crucial step to protecting your IoT network. There are several security measures that you can take to protect your network through routers and gateways. Many of the steps we are going to mention here are applicable to any smart device, but there are several that are specifically targeted at IoT devices. Taking the time to understand the steps that will protect your devices will help ensure that you have a safe home network.
An important step to keeping your devices secure is to enable virtual private networking. This creates a secure “tunnel” to your local separate network that makes it difficult for eavesdroppers to gain access to your network. In addition, you can configure your IoT devices to use the virtual private network to stream media or to set up a guest network for guests to access the Internet.
Examine Device Manufacturers on the Market
You should also research the security policies of device manufacturers. Some manufacturers may have a policy that recommends that you update your device on a regular basis. Some will even automatically update their firmware. In any way, make sure to check with your device’s manufacturer to ensure that you’re getting the best security protection of IoT architecture.
The Way TEKTELIC Stands Out in Terms of IoT Security
Some manufacturers of IoT solutions do not pay enough attention to the security protocols and requirements of the network. It is important for you to avoid such providers in order to avoid unnecessary trouble. For instance, TEKTELIC is a leading IoT device provider and a technological partner for organizations around the world. TEKTELIC offers reliable, high-performance devices, which follow IoT security requirements. These IoT devices are based on LoRaWAN technology and meet Carrier-Garde quality standards.
TEKTELIC offers a wide range of IoT solutions that are customizable to meet the needs of organizations of all sizes. These products include sensors, gateways, and fully integrated end-to-end solutions you can use out of the box. They are designed to offer the highest quality and lowest total cost of ownership. TEKTELIC products are backed by a knowledgeable and experienced technical support team, so IoT security is something we are proud of.
TEKTELIC’s solutions work with a wide variety of LoRaWAN network servers. This makes it easy for companies to implement our smart solutions. They can easily integrate their existing devices with TEKTELIC solutions. TEKTELIC has developed solutions that are long-range, low-power, and long-lasting.
In the LoRaWAN network, the data transmission is always encrypted and gateways, as well as the end user, can read the data only when the keys for the decryption match the initial source (sensors) keys. Data will be encrypted even if transferred to the same network, so IoT devices are protected and secured at all times.
Protect Entry Points
On a big part, security depends not only on manufacturers but also on the users themselves, the ways how they protect their mobile phone devices or even smart TVs. If you don’t use strong passwords, you can create a data breach through which hackers can access sensitive data.
Most smart devices come with default passwords, and you should be sure to change them to more complex passwords. It would be also smart to enable two-factor authentication and use a password manager instead of weak passwords. Make sure to change a default password after several seconds of inactivity, as hackers can use the device as an entry point into your network architecture.
Another important step to take in protecting your IoT devices is to install a virtual private network (VPN). Some newer smartphones come with pre-loaded VPN applications that you can download. You should also consider buying a new router, which will allow you to create a secure, virtual private network to protect your IoT devices as well.
It is also necessary for users to understand how identity management works. Without proper authentication and encryption, a hacker can easily gain access to connected devices. Once threat actors have access, they can tamper with data, separate networks, create malware, or otherwise cause damage to the organization. By understanding identity management, manufacturers can protect their devices from these threats.
Encrypt Data at All Times
Probably, one thing that we have already established is that whether you’re a manufacturer or an individual with an interest in the Internet of Things, it’s crucial to implement the highest security levels possible. Without adequate security, data breaches can have devastating consequences for your business. Luckily, there are a number of coding standards and solutions available to address your IoT security needs. These solutions can protect data, help prevent DDoS attacks, and prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information in the network.
Security is also vital when IoT devices communicate with other systems. There are many types of data, and each type presents its own set of challenges. For instance, some network data is in use or in the process of data transmission and other is stored in a local IoT network. In order to protect even a single IoT device, manufacturers must verify the authenticity of the new code and firmware as well as organize decryption keys.
Public Key Infrastructure for IoT Applications Protection
Public key infrastructure (PKI) is a trust framework that manufacturers can use to verify digital identities and secure data. It includes policies, procedures, and hardware of emerging technology. By using PKI, manufacturers can provide their devices with digital certificates from a trusted certificate authority, minimizing the possibility of a data breach. These certificates allow manufacturers to authenticate their devices without having to create a centralized server. PKI is also flexible enough to accommodate millions of identities of connected devices. It can be used to establish trusted roots, generate Enrollment over Secure Transports (ESTs), and use Simple Certificate Enrollment Protocol (SCEP). By using PKI, manufacturers can provide consumers with highly secure connected devices. According to security researchers, companies can also use PKI to access Representational State Transfer (REST) APIs (TechTarget, 2015).
In addition to data encryption, organizations should consider implementing backups. This will help the cybersecurity team recover information if a network breach somehow occurs. It is also important to educate employees about the importance of security measures and to have all employees participate in security procedures at all times. Having flawless data security will help an organization avoid cybersecurity incidents, meet compliance requirements, and ensure its reputation.
Regardless of the security solution chosen, manufacturers should maintain a full lifecycle management strategy to protect the integrity of the entry points and data transmitted. This includes issuing and revoking certificates. It also includes monitoring the activity of the data and the devices containing the data. Without proper lifecycle management, digital certificates will degrade over time. In addition, manufacturers must take additional precautions to protect encryption keys, which give access to new technology.
Why is it Important to Establish IoT Security?
A secure IoT network is of huge importance for a range of reasons. Physical security is important because it prevents theft, vandalism, and other threats to your devices. So it is critical to ensure that hardware is protected in terms of its location tracking, hardened enclosure (if deployed outdoors), and environmental protection. Then goes software and firmware security, meaning that your IoT device cannot be compromised remotely (firewall, encryption, and network segmentation). When both sides of security are provisioned, you will have protected equipment from internal;l and external threats.
Additionally, manufacturers must take measures to protect against malicious software updates. Hackers can create malware to be pushed to IoT devices. If an IoT device is hacked, the hacker will have access to the entire system (all the security cameras, smart locks, monitors, or even the smart TV you have). This can lead to severe financial and privacy risks for end users. So, manufacturers must have a prevention plan for devices not to be compromised in any instance. Manufacturers need to implement the highest possible security levels, monitor data activity, and establish a response plan for compromised certificates.
IoT security organization and establishment is not easy thing to do. Now, with this step-by-step guide, we hope that you will have a more clear understanding of what to do for better protection of your devices. It is important to communicate your physical security policies to employees and contractors. This will help prevent fraud and collusion. Providing your employees with a physical security control procedures checklist will help them manage smart things in the surrounding environment properly, which applies equally to smart monitors, security cameras, smart locks, and other sensors.
It is also important to have regular audits of all physical security measures. This can help you identify weaknesses in your system and help you improve management. Having an audit will also help law enforcement identify the person responsible for a security breach if one occurs.
At the same time, despite the numerous security challenges, there is much potential for positive change in the IoT ecosystem. Manufacturers are attempting to use the IoT to develop innovative products and services, and they start to pay attention to the protection part as well. Manufacturers must establish IoT security in their development processes as early as possible, and the sooner all providers implement it, the better.
In case, you still have some questions in mind, regarding security measures, the LoRaWAN network, or the Internet of Things, do not hesitate to write to our sales team, they will break this topic down into pieces for you.
- TechTarget. (2015). Representational State Transfer (REST) Challenges. TechTarget.