Internet of Things (IoT) and operational technology (OT) devices improve productivity and streamline business operations. IoT devices (such as printers, security cameras, smart lighting, virtual assistants, and even coffee machines) connect to the corporate network via Wi-Fi. IT teams can manage them remotely and gain insights that can help improve business operations. However, IoT devices also expand an organization’s attack surface, unless protected with a robust IoT security tool.
IoT devices produce data of their own, and often have access to sensitive data and critical systems in other areas of the network. But IoT devices are much more difficult to secure than traditional endpoints. Most sensor-based devices, for example, have minimal computing resources, and therefore cannot install typical forms of protection such as antivirus software or encryption. IoT devices also often have poor access controls, security scans can cause sensitive devices to crash, and traditional tools often don’t provide visibility into peer-to-peer wireless connections.
This makes them more vulnerable to attack than traditional endpoints. If an IoT device is compromised, it can be used by threat actors as an entryway from which they can move laterally to other areas of the network, where they can access more critical devices and data.
Managing IoT devices using traditional network security tools can be challenging—so, the best way to secure your IoT devices is by implementing a dedicated IoT security tool. In this article, we’ll provide our shortlist of the best IoT security tools. We’ll give you some background information on the provider and the key features of each solution, as well as the type of customer that they are most suitable for.
IoT Security Tools: Everything You Need To Know (FAQs)
What Are IoT Devices?
IoT devices are hardware devices that connect wirelessly to a network (usually via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth). They interact with the physical world in some way—e.g., via a sensor or camera—and have the ability to share the data they collect with other systems, devices, and applications on that network, and they can be monitored and controlled remotely.
There are three main types of IoT device: consumer, enterprise, and industrial:
- Consumer IoT devices are generally used in the home; they include things such as smart TVs, speakers, and watches, personal assistants, and coffee machines.
- Enterprise IoT devices are designed to be used in a business setting to improve operational efficiency and productivity. Some examples of enterprise IoT devices include security cameras, smart locks, smart thermostats, and smart lighting.
- Industrial IoT devices are designed for use in industrial environments. They send data to admins or technicians remotely, informing them of anything that goes wrong so that they don’t have to make two separate trips to first diagnose any problems, and then fix them. This can save a lot of time. In manufacturing, for example, smart sensors might be used to monitor the efficiency of an assembly line and predict downtime caused by the replacement of parts; in healthcare, on the other hand, smart monitors might be used to measure a patient’s heart rate or blood pressure.
What Are The Main IoT Security Challenges?
There are five main security challenges that organizations must confront when utilizing IoT devices within their network:
- IoT devices tend to have poor authentication and access controls—they’re often manufactured and deployed with a common default password that makes them vulnerable to brute force and password compromise attacks.
- Most IoT devices, particularly sensor-based devices, don’t have the computing resource required to run security software such as antivirus or encryption tools.
- Running security scans can cause sensitive IoT devices to crash. If the device in question is a coffee machine, that downtime may just be an inconvenience; if it’s a remote patient monitor, it could threaten the life of a patient.
- Traditional security tools often don’t provide visibility into peer-to-peer wireless traffic, or corporate devices connected to other networks. They may also struggle to monitor the behavior of IoT devices for anomalous activities.
- If they’re not updated or patched effectively, IoT devices are vulnerable to exploitation. Because of this, they’re increasingly being used in botnets—groups of inter-connected devices that are infected by malware that enables a threat actor to control them remotely. Botnets are usually used to steal data, send spam, or carry out Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. The Mirai botnet (aka “Dyn” attack), the Xbash botnet, the Dark Nexus, botnet, and the Mozi botnet have all been known to infect and “recruit” IoT devices including printers and IP cameras.
In order to secure your organization against cyberthreats, you need to ensure that all of your devices are properly protected—and that includes your IoT devices. Implementing a strong IoT security tool can help you overcome these challenges and prevent your IoT devices from being compromised by cybercriminals.
What Features Should You Look For In An IoT Security Tool?
There are a few features that you should look out for when comparing IoT security tools:
- Device discovery. In order to provide maximum visibility into your IoT devices, your chosen IoT security tool should automatically discover and inventory all networked devices. This will help you identify any unauthorized devices that could indicate compromise, or simply that a user has connected a device that may be unsecure.
- Updates and patching. Any strong IoT security solution should be able to monitor the device’s hardware and software for vulnerabilities, usually via an agent-based system. When a vulnerability is detected, the solution should also administer patches and updates to prevent them from being exploited.
- Data encryption. It’s important that you check that your chosen solution offers a range of protocols that are compatible with the devices you need to secure. The best IoT security tools encrypt data at rest and data in transit between the device and back-end systems. Some IoT devices don’t have the hardware capacity to support standard encryption protocols—in this case, you may need a solution that uses signatures to ensure data hasn’t been modified in transit before it’s stored in a more permanent data base.
- Authentication and access management. IoT security solutions authenticate the identities of any employees before allowing them to use an IoT device, as well as authenticating the device before establishing a connection between it and other areas of the network—this is usually done via two-factor authentication and digital certificates. You should also be able to easily create, manage, and update strong passwords for all the IoT devices on your network.
- You should be able to see which services and applications each IoT device has access to across the network. The best IoT security solutions enable you to segment your IoT devices from the rest of the network and apply zero trust access policies that only allow secure, authorized connections between IoT devices and the rest of the network. This helps prevent the lateral spread of attacks should a device be compromised.
- API security. Most IoT security tools use REST APIs to authorize and authenticate the movement of data between your IoT devices, back-end systems, and other applications across the network.
- Data analytics. Some IoT security tools offer machine learning-powered data analytics to help you identify threats across your IoT device fleet. They aggregate and normalize the data generated by IoT devices, and monitor that data for anomalous or non-compliant activity. These capabilities are still relatively new, so not all solutions will offer this.
Note that not all IoT security tools will offer all of these features; some may focus on device discovery and topography mapping; others on vulnerability management; others still on device authentication. It’s important that you assess your organization’s security needs and work out which features are most important to you, before you start to compare solutions.
How Else Can You Secure Your IoT Devices?
As well as investing in a robust IoT security tool, there are a few other steps that you can take to ensure the integrity and security of your IoT devices. The first two steps come before purchasing the devices themselves. First, you should look for ones with secure connectivity protocols and relatively low data throughput, such as LoRaWAN (long-range wide-area network). These protocols are widely used in large IoT installations and are secure by design, making them suitable for an enterprise use case.
Second, you should check whether the device manufacturer has a vulnerability management or bug bounty program. If they do, that means that they actively search for vulnerabilities within their devices and may offer support in updating devices when an issue arises. If they don’t, you’ll have to make sure that your chosen security tool offers robust vulnerability management and patching capabilities.
Finally, once your IoT devices are connected, you need to ensure that legitimate users can connect to them only from within your network. You can do this by configuring your firewalls and routers to block external traffic.