5 best practices to ensure IoT and cloud security
N-iX
2021-03-09T23:23:11+00:00

IoT creates connected homes, factories, and cities. However, despite multiple advantages, the technology also brings many challenges. NETSCOUT’s Threat Intelligence Report states that it takes on average 5 minutes to attack an IoT device.  Thus, IoT security is one of the biggest&...

5 best practices to ensure IoT and cloud security

IoT creates connected homes, factories, and cities. However, despite multiple advantages, the technology also brings many challenges. NETSCOUT’s Threat Intelligence Report states that it takes on average 5 minutes to attack an IoT device. 

Thus, IoT security is one of the biggest concerns of IoT device manufacturers. So how to ensure IoT and cloud security?  Which cloud provider has the best security solutions? And how to address cloud and IoT security risks? Let’s find out.

Challenges and risks of IoT and cloud security and how to overcome them

According to McKinsey estimates, the IoT market’s annual value could be $11.1T by 2025. The number of devices grows exponentially. Each IoT device, however, is a target for hackers. Attackers can access your personal data on the cloud by hacking the unprotected IoT device. So, businesses must take a range of measures to assess and mitigate potential IoT risks. 

According to a Gartner survey, the most popular IoT risk assessment measures are vulnerability scanning (46% of surveyed businesses) and IoT network segmentation (37%)

IoT and cloud security: IoT risk assessment

Although Gartner states that by 2021, public clouds will have 60% fewer security incidents than traditional data centers, there are some risks to address. 

So, let’s view the main IoT cloud security challenges and ways to mitigate them.

  1. Lack of user awareness

A significant share of responsibility for cloud and IoT security lies on your employees. Thus, it is critical to conduct regular security training to enhance security awareness. As a result, you will encourage your employees to develop strong passwords and update them. Also, your employees have to learn to update security patches regularly. 

  1. Improper device updates

The software IoT devices run on is often outdated, thus vulnerable to hackers. To resolve this issue, the device manufacturers should develop small patches frequently, rather than substantial updates. By doing so, manufacturers reduce the time hackers have to identify the vulnerabilities of the systems. 

  1. Lack of efficient and robust security protocols

Secure network protocols, including the message-passing protocol, point-to-point encryption, and security certificates, are critical for overall cloud security. Each device needs to have access to the cloud (AWS, Azure, or GCP) environment to be secure. Cloud providers grant certificates and private security keys to their users, which have to be generated for each device individually. 

If you don’t use these out-of-the-box solutions, you need to develop a custom security system to mitigate cybersecurity risks. 

  1. Lack of built-in security patches 

IoT devices are often exposed to security threats due to outdated security software. However, the problem is that many IoT devices do not have enough hard drive space for new patches and updates. The main reason for this is that manufacturers tend to prioritize cost-saving over security.

To address the problem, you should pay close attention to choosing secure hardware. 

These were the IoT cloud security challenges. Now, let’s take a closer look at the best practices that will help you prevent attacks when implementing IoT and cloud computing. 

Five best practices to ensure IoT and cloud security

IoT and cloud security: best practices

  1. Encrypt your data

Encryption protects the data by encoding it both when it is at rest and in transit. It is a critical layer of IoT cloud security. The encrypted data is difficult to decipher without a decryption key. Such a key, in turn, is granted to a limited number of people. 

However, it is impossible to create the same IoT data encryption solution that fits both smart kettles and large construction equipment. So, IoT cloud security experts adjust encryption solutions, depending on the type of environment (hub, edge, storage device, etc.) they are encrypting. 

Also, secure IoT protocols are of the utmost importance when it comes to IoT and cloud security. Protocols like MQTT, CoAP, XMPP, etc., will keep your IoT solutions secure

You can develop custom encryption solutions that will secure your data or make use of the ones provided by your cloud vendor. 

No matter what cloud vendor you choose - Azure, AWS, or Google cloud, they all offer out-of-the-box security solutions. 

Let’s view these solutions in more detail:

  1. Azure Security Center by Microsoft:

Microsoft provides various services to ensure maximum security of your data. Using the Azure Secure Score, you can, for example, assess and have a clear picture of the security state of your solution hosted by Azure, on-premises, as well as by other cloud vendors. What’s more, an Azure Defender service will help you protect your hybrid cloud workloads. Also, Azure has a solution made specifically for IoT cloud security - Azure IoT. 

  1. AWS Security Hub by Amazon:

It gives you a comprehensive view of your security alerts and security posture across your AWS accounts. Also, the solution provides regular automated security checks. Integrated dashboards bring together your security findings to show you the current security status. Thus, you can spot trends and identify potential security risks.

AWS Security Hub also includes services that help to ensure IoT security. 

  1. Cloud Security Command Center by Google:

The solution allows you to gain centralized visibility and control over your data, identify security misconfigurations and compliance violations, as well as resolve them by following recommendations. Also, there are security threat prevention and detection services and tools.

Compare three main cloud vendors - Azure vs AWS vs GCP here.  

  1. Leave sensitive data on-premises

Although cloud providers take security very seriously, it is rather risky to store your sensitive data in a public cloud. Three major sensitive data clusters need to reside on-premises. They are personally identifiable information (PII), personal healthcare information (PHI), and financial data. 

As a compromise, many companies that operate sensitive data store it on physical data centers and use the cloud for flexibility, connectivity, and scalability.

  1. Use DevSecOps approach

 DevSecOps approach is the new black when it comes to IoT and cloud security. 

Within this approach, security is integrated into each and every stage of the development process. Each developer is responsible for their code security, so assessing security risks becomes an integral part of the software development process. What’s more, introducing security in the earlier development stages allows minimizing security risks.  

IoT and cloud security: DevSecOps

  1. Choose an IoT development partner with an established security policy

According to Gartner, 61% of businesses are planning to invest in IoT risk assessment in the next 12-18 months. Thus, the need for skilled cloud security professionals increases. As a result, many businesses opt for partnering with experienced IT vendors to achieve IoT and cloud security. 

Also, you should look for a partner that has all critical security compliances, including PCI DSS, ISO 9001, ISO 27001, GDPR, and other security regulations, to keep your data safe.

N-iX expertise in IoT and cloud security:

  1. US-based electronic test tools manufacturer (under NDA)

This company is based in the USA and provides electronic test tools and software for measuring and condition monitoring. 

The client partnered with N-iX for equipment uptime and product performance improvement. Also, our experts are responsible for reducing maintenance costs. 

The N-iX team has been working on a solution enabling users to perform work order management and inventory management tasks from mobile devices. It includes products such as Inventory Manager, Work Order Manager, Work Order Requests, and Alarms and supports CMMS from several major vendors: IBM Maximo, Emaint X4/X5. 

Also, our experts work with the client's team and help them implement predictive maintenance on a new project. They leverage vibration data for different types of assets: motors, pumps, gearboxes, etc., to implement the project. Vibration data is collected with the help of handheld devices or IoT sensors embedded in the assets. 

The data is stored on-premises and transmitted for analysis via cable or MQTT. 

  1. The company operating through e-commerce, fintech, and mobile segments (under NDA)

Our client is developing an IoT Data Processing Platform that will collect data from multiple IoT sources to build its own 5G network. N-iX professionals are responsible for the end-to-end development of the new product, from idea to production. We are leading the project management, including project scope and risk management, in coordination with the client. 

To ensure that the platform meets all internal security standards and the client’s private cloud requirements, the platform went through a comprehensive audit. 

  1. Gate and fencing devices manufacturer (under NDA)

The company has over 25 years of experience in the market. The client partnered with N-iX to design and develop outdoor hardware for fences and gates. N-iX experts worked on prototype design, firmware, and hardware development. Also, we developed a PoC of an IoT solution for the client. 

Why choose N-iX to ensure security on your IoT project?

  1. N-iX partners with global cloud vendors. The company is a certified AWS Select Consulting Partner, a Microsoft gold certified partner, and a Google Cloud Platform Partner;
  2. N-iX complies with PCI DSS, ISO 9001, ISO 27001, and GDPR international security standards;
  3. The company offers professional DevOps services, including cloud adoption, building and streamlining CI/CD processes, security issues detection/prevention, firewall-as-a-service, and others;
  4. The vendor ensures protection for intellectual property under the legislative and contractual agreements. N-iX information security teams review cybersecurity policies on a regular basis to make sure they are suitable, adequate, and effective;
  5. The vendor provides secure log-on procedures, password, and cryptographic keys management, network security, and information asset management;
  6. N-iX provides a wide range of IoT-related services, including IoT security and blockchain-powered IoT solutions. 

WRAP-UP

It is no easy task to ensure IoT and cloud security. There are many security cloud-based IoT challenges to tackle at each stage of solution development. If you do not have the required expertise and are looking to augment your resources, contact our experts and tap into our IoT and cloud expertise.

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About N-iX

N-iX is an Eastern European software development service company that helps businesses across the globe expand their engineering capabilities and develop successful software products. Founded in 2002, N-iX has formed strategic partnerships with a variety of global industry leaders and Fortune 500 companies, including OpenText, Fluke Corporation, AVL, Lebara, Currencycloud, RateSetter, TuneIn, and many others. With more than 1,700 professionals, N-iX offers expert solutions in software engineering, cloud-native services, data analytics, embedded software, IoT, machine learning, and other tech domains covering a wide variety of sectors, including finance, manufacturing, telecom, supply chain, to name a few.

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