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Securing IoT Devices

Securing IoT devices is crucial for thwarting cyber attackers.

1200x627-Blog-Securing IoT Devices

What is IoT (Internet of Things)? 

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects, hence the use of the word ‘things’, that have built-in software, sensors, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data over the internet to other systems and devices on the IoT. These IoT devices can range from regular day-to-day objects such as a smart fridge, to advanced manufacturing tools such as CnC machines. 

With over 24 billion active internet of things (IoT) devices in existence today, and billions more projected to exist by 2030, it’s safe to say that smart devices are here to stay. The problem is securing IoT devices. Cyber criminals love these types of devices. As useful as being able to turn on and off your lights, heating, and alarm systems with vocal recognition is for the average consumer, it’s even more useful to malicious hackers.

The major issue with IoT devices is that they make it possible for an individual or company to conduct cyber attacks through entirely new means than before. The inherent connectivity of IoT is what makes these devices more vulnerable to cyber attacks. Cyber security professionals all agree that IoT devices increase the attack surface hackers can exploit which is precisely why steps must be taken to manage the resulting security risks. 

What is IoT security? 

From simple game consoles to entire houses designed with smart technology, almost every type of technological device today has some capacity to interact with other systems, or even the internet. Because IoT is so vast, IoT security is even broader which causes a large variety of security methods to fall under the umbrella of IoT security. A few examples of these security measures include public key infrastructure (PKI) authentication, application program interface (API) security, and network access control (NAC).

What are the common threats? 

With the place IoT devices have in our lives only growing, here are some common flaws to look for in the future. 

Lackluster defaults: While it has become incredibly easy nowadays to power up IoT devices and let them simply work in the background without much thought, IoT devices that maintain default settings and passwords are much easier for malicious cyber threats to gain access to. In fact, some IoT devices are developed with these vulnerable default settings that cannot be edited or changed.  

Not future proof: In some instances, support for an IoT device is discontinued, or there is no pathway to update the IoT device in question. Maintaining a stagnant IoT device on your network is leaving a consistent vulnerability unchecked. This means you are essentially waiting for the other shoe to drop in terms of cyber threats. 

Over-engineered: In other cases, powerful software will be installed on an IoT device, despite such power not being necessary for the device’s intended task. For instance, say an IoT manufacturer were to place a full operating system on an IoT device, when only a portion was necessary. As a result of this decision, were the IoT device to be compromised, the cyber criminal would in essence have a fully operational computer embedded within your secure system. An immensely powerful weapon in the hands of an attacker. 

How to secure IoT devices? 

An often-utilized method of mitigating the risk of your IoT devices is through the usage of the previously mentioned network access control (NAC). NAC can reduce the inherent risks in IoT devices by applying pre-set profiles and access policies based on the category of the IoT device. Through this, NAC can help identify the IoT devices connected to your network, as well as their function on the network, which results in the ability to track and monitor devices. Additionally, a NAC system allows you to deny network access to devices that fall outside of your network parameters. Access to network resources can be limited or the devices in question can be placed in a quarantined area on the network, as well. Thus, keeping your network secure from infection by insecure nodes. 

What are the general capabilities of a NAC solution? 

NAC solutions utilize the following methods to allow organizations and individuals to control access to their networks.

Device profiling: Profile user’s devices upon their connection to the network, prior to any malicious software or code’s ability to cause damage. 

Security policy confirmation: Examines a device’s compliance to pre-set security policies by cross evaluating the user type, device type, and operating system. 

Threat response: Without administrator oversight, the NAC solution will manage threats to the network via security policies that block, isolate, and repair noncompliant machines. 

Guest network access: Manages unrecognized devices to the network through a customizable portal that includes registration, authentication, sponsoring, and management for all guest users. 

Policy management: Without additional modules or separate products, a NAC solution will enforce security policies for all listed operational scenarios. 

ACP CreativIT has experts who would be happy to assist your organization in learning more about securing IoT devices. Contact us at to talk to one of our experts today or visit our website here.