DigiCert Survey Indicates IoT Security Will Be Big Business for Solution Providers
Mention IoT in a room full of cybersecurity professionals and you are more than likely to hear groans, protestations, and perhaps, the sounds of apathy. Nevertheless, IoT adoption is exploding and many enterprises are deploying the technology unaware of the security implications. For the channel, awareness and knowledge can become powerful tools for bringing security to those enterprise, while also addressing the concerns of corporate CSOs.
Security solutions vendor DigiCert recently commissioned a study by ReRez Research to discover the specific challenges enterprises are encountering with IoT implementations. The study included a survey of some 700 enterprise organizations in the U.S., U.K. Germany, France and Japan from across critical infrastructure industries.
“The survey gave us some critical insight into how enterprises are adopting IoT and what their major concerns were.” said Mike Nelson, vice president of IoT security at DigiCert.
The survey revealed that security and privacy topped the list of concerns for IoT projects, with 82 percent of respondents stating they were somewhat to extremely concerned about security challenges. For the channel, that should prove to be good news. With a significant majority expressing IoT security concerns, solution providers can quickly address those concerns with education and solutions to protect privacy and reduce risk. It is a market that is only bound to grow. There is no denying that IoT is growing exponentially, Today there are nearly three devices attached to the internet for every human on the planet. According to IDC Research, that ratio will soar to 10 to 1 by 2025. The survey also revealed IoT security is the top concern, with 92 percent of companies saying it will be extremely important in the next two years.
“Securing IoT devices is still a top priority that many enterprises are struggling to manage; however, integrating security at the beginning, and all the way through IoT implementations, is vital to mitigating rising attacks, which can be expected to continue,” Nelson added. “Due diligence when it comes to authentication, encryption and integrity of IoT devices and systems can help enterprises reliably and safely embrace IoT.”
That said, enterprises are still facing many challenges, ranging from understanding the implications of security for IoT, to the actual implementation process, where many missteps have occured. However, to better understand those implications, it is important to determine the size and types of enterprise most at risk.
Top vs. Bottom Performers
To give visibility to the specific challenges enterprises are encountering with IoT implementations, respondents were asked a series of questions using a wide variance of terminology. Using standard survey methodology, respondents’ answers were then scored and divided into three tiers:
Top-tier: Enterprises experiencing fewer problems and demonstrating a degree of mastery mitigating specific aspects of IoT security.
Middle-tier: Enterprises scoring in the middle range in terms of their IoT security results.
Bottom-tier: Enterprises experiencing more problems that were much more likely to report difficulties mastering IoT security.
IoT Security Missteps
Respondents were asked about IoT-related security incidents their organizations experienced within the past two years. The difference between the top and bottom tiers was unmistakable. Companies struggling the most with IoT implementation are much more likely to get hit with IoT-related security incidents. Every single bottom-tier enterprise experienced an IoT-related security incident in that time span, versus just 32 percent of the top tier. The bottom tier was also more likely to report problems in these specific areas:
- More than six times as likely to have experienced IoT-based denial-of-service attacks.
- More than six times as likely to have experienced unauthorized access to IoT devices.
- Nearly six times as likely to have experienced IoT-based data breaches.
- 4.5 times as likely to have experienced IoT-based malware or ransomware attacks.
These security incidents were not trivial. Among companies surveyed that are struggling the most with IoT security, 25 percent reported IoT security-related losses of at least $34 million in the last two years.
For solution providers, the bottom tier may prove to be an area where services and solutions can be sold to help address the numerous security problems being caused by rapid IoT adoption. In essence, solution providers can address the five areas where costs were incurred over the past two years. Respondents indicated that those five critical costs amounted to monetary damages, lost productivity, legal/compliance penalties, lost reputation and even stock price.
However, an overwhelming majority (80 percent) of top-tier enterprises reported no costs associated with the missteps encountered by the bottom tier. Top-tier enterprises attributed their security successes to these practices:
- Encrypting sensitive data
- Ensuring integrity of data in transit
- Scaling security measures
- Securing over-the-air updates
- Securing software-based encryption key storage
“When it comes to accelerating implementations of IoT, it’s vital for companies to strike a balance between gaining efficiencies and maintaining security and privacy,” Nelson said. “This study shows that enterprises that are implementing security best practices have less exposure to the risks and resulting damages from attacks on connected devices. Meanwhile, it appears these IoT security best practices, such as authentication and identity, encryption and integrity, are on the rise and companies are beginning to realize what’s at stake.”
That becomes the definition of opportunity for solution providers, where those solution providers can become the purveyors of best practices to the bottom tier enterprises. DigiCert recommends the following best practices to bring better security to IoT environments:
- Review risk: Perform penetration testing to assess the risk of connected devices. Evaluate the risk and build a priority list for addressing primary security concerns, such as authentication and encryption. A strong risk assessment will help assure you do not leave any gaps in your connected security landscape.
- Encrypt everything: As you evaluate use cases for your connected devices, make sure that all data is encrypted at rest and in transit. Make end-to-end encryption a product requirement to ensure this key security feature is implemented in all of your IoT projects.
- Authenticate always: Review all of the connections being made to your device, including devices and users, to ensure authentication schemes only allow trusted connections to your IoT device. Using digital certificates helps to provide seamless authentication with binded identities that are tied to cryptographic protocols.
- Instill integrity: Account for the basics of device and data integrity to include secure boot every time the device starts up, secure over the air updates, and the use of code signing to ensure the integrity of any code being run on the device.
- Strategize for scale: Make sure that you have a scalable security framework and architecture ready to support your IoT deployments. Plan accordingly and work with third parties that have the scale and expertise to help you reach your goals so that you can focus on your company’s core competency.
Solution providers should be able to quickly adopt those recommendations and build an IoT security practice, which should address the majority of concerns revealed by the survey.