Preventing Cybercriminals from Using IoT Devices as a Gateway into the Enterprise Network


The Internet of Things (IoT) has become an essential component of business operations worldwide. However, the increasing complexity and growth of a network of smart devices have resulted in new security issues. IoT device risks cannot be ignored any longer, but thankfully, solutions are readily available.

IoT device security is a critical part of modern network security. Companies face new risks if proper IoT security practices are not implemented. Hackers targeting smart devices, for example, could gain access to resources well beyond their initial network entry point, mounting crippling attacks and potentially gathering sensitive data.

Manu Puthumana, Vice President – of Cyber Defense Services, Mphasis, says, “IoTs are evolving as the bridge between the digital and the physical, delivering value like never before. As per Fortune Business Insights, the IoT market is set to reach one+ trillion by 2026. Research by Juniper showed that there will be more than 83 billion IoT connections by 2024, which is expected to produce 73 ZB of data, indicating that businesses are rapidly adopting IoT for varied industries and use cases.

IoT devices have become an attractive target for threat actors to infiltrate, hide, and launch attacks. It is due to a lack of adequate security controls compounded by the high risks of access to critical data and enterprise assets. Organizations must properly secure IoT devices to prevent them from being used as a gateway into the corporate network by cybercriminals”.

Here are some recommendations that could be included in an IoT security strategy:

Focus on Total Visibility and Device Discovery 

The first step in securing IoT networks is to develop a map of connected IoT devices. Security teams must be aware of the exact number of devices in use, as well as their serial numbers, manufacturer IDs, firmware, and hardware versions. They must also document any specialized features that attackers could use.

Connected devices can be mapped using automated scanning tools. Businesses must prioritize device security if they interact with critical resources and data centers or process high-value data.

Network Segmentation is Essential

Users can access parts of the network if they have sufficient privileges, or they can be restricted if they do not. Because network segmentation reduces the attack surface available to the threat actor, cybersecurity incidents are localized and do not spread across the entire network. In the context of the Internet of Things, this allows security teams to isolate insecure connected devices from applications or data centers.

IoT Updates Should be a Priority

IoT vendors might not provide automated updates or even notify customers when firmware updates are available. Security teams must never assume that IoT software is up to date and capable of dealing with emerging threats. An active updates strategy is required instead.

It is also crucial to plan update audits to renew firmware across the lifecycle of IoT tools. Ideally, vendors will work with businesses to ensure security is up-to-date, but the proactive assessment of security patches is also required.

Secure Password Policy is a Must

IoT products often come with default passwords. These passwords are simple to guess and may not be changed when businesses install devices, providing an easy entry point for threat actors.

To protect IoT devices, businesses must create strong passwords. Every device should have its own password, which should be changed on a regular basis. An enterprise-wide password manager can help in automating updates and reducing human error. 

Implement Real-Time IoT Monitoring

Businesses can use device visibility along with monitoring to track traffic across IoT nodes and identify unusual activity before crises occur. Modern network security management systems include tools for continuously monitoring network traffic and every connected device.

Monitoring tools also enable security teams to establish a standard for normal network operation. This baseline serves as a standard for detecting anomalies and can be utilized to enhance network performance and threat detection.

Also Read: Enhanced Threat Detection and Prevention with Open XDR

Integrate IoT Device Security with SASE and Zero Trust

Many of the solutions suggested above can be synthesized using Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA).

ZTNA is based on the principle of least privilege: users should not be trusted until verified, and resources are restricted until proof that users have the necessary privileges is provided. SASE is a cloud-based technology suite that provides comprehensive network edge protection. Network micro-segmentation and Identity Access Management (IAM) protect against malicious intruders, such as threat actors that enter networks through IoT endpoints.

SASE and ZTNA collaborate to ensure that rogue IoT endpoints are isolated from the larger network while allowing legitimate traffic to flow freely. It’s the best option for businesses that rely on IoT.

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