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Understanding Top IoT Security Challenges

Uday Parida

The enhanced speed and bandwidth delivered by the 5G networks will make the Internet of Things (IoT) more efficient and effective by enabling the next generation use cases. But with increased popularity and usage, new IoT security challenges will also emerge.

According to,

127 new IoT devices are connected to the web every second. Over 35 billion IoT devices will be connected by the web by 2021.

Also, the massive machine type communication (MTC) promoted by the 5G technology will enable the connected devices or things to interact with each other automatically and seamlessly using the next-generation cellular links. With operators working on implementing 5G commercially, it is time for enterprises to explore various ways of securing the IoT ecosystems.

No enterprise can enhance IoT security simply by focusing on making the devices exchange data in a secure way. In addition to optimizing data security, the enterprises must focus on IoT security challenges protecting IoT devices, IoT networks, and IoT infrastructure from many existing and emerging security threats. Hence, it is time for decision-makers to understand and address some of the major challenges in IoT Security.

Top IoT Security Challenges Enterprises Must Address While Preparing for 5G

Strengthening Identity Authentication

IoT cannot function optimally and securely without the Identity of Things (IDoT). But IDoT is yet to be defined and standardized concretely. The enterprises have to refer to various best practices while implementing IDoT. The enterprises will soon leverage AI to automate and strengthen IoT authentication management. But they will need next-generation AI solutions to simultaneously identify and authenticate thousands of IoT devices of varying natures with 100% accuracy.

Keeping Robot Controls Inaccessible

Many industries already deploy robots to automate critical business processes and operations. Likewise, healthcare providers also leverage advanced robotics to perform remote surgery or tele-surgery. The enhanced speed and ultralow latency delivered by 5G networks will make it easier for enterprises from various sectors to deploy smarter robots. But the hackers can access the entire IoT ecosystem by accessing and manipulating the robots. The enterprises have to ensure that the robot controls remain inaccessible to every unauthorized person and device.

Safeguarding Critical IoT Infrastructure

As mentioned earlier, the number of installed IoT devices is expected to cross 35 billion by 2021. Enterprises will expand and optimize the IoT infrastructure regularly to leverage IoT to provide power and other utilities. The enterprises cannot ensure operational continuity and efficiency without keeping every important component of the IoT infrastructure secured – devices, cloud environment, and application programming interfaces (APIs). The enterprises have to make IoT device testing, security testing and monitoring an ongoing process to safeguard the extending IoT infrastructure.

Ensuring Flawless AI Functionality

Most experts believe that artificial intelligence (AI) will act as the brain of the IoT ecosystem. The enterprises will leverage AI technologies to identify IoT devices, define what the IoT device is authorized to do, and check if the IoT device is doing something which it is not allowed doing. AI will help enterprises to protect the IoT network and infrastructure by predicting and preventing targeted security attacks. But an enterprise can boost IoT security only when the AI-based security systems function flawlessly.

Encrypting the Device Networks

According to,

At the most basic level researchers found that 98 percent of all IoT device traffic is unencrypted, exposing personal and confidential data on the network.

The enterprises must encrypt the device network end-to-end to protect sensitive and confidential data during transition and storage. But most IoT devices, unlike computers and mobile devices lack the capability to store and process data. They secure the data using algorithms. Cybercriminals can easily access sensitive data by manipulating the algorithms.

Identifying and Tracking Botnets

As a set of connected devices to the internet, botnets or robot networks have the capability to runs multiple bots simultaneously. The botnets have emerged as a top challenge in IoT security. Many cybercriminals use botnets to access devices, steal data, send spam, and perform Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks. Botnets enable hackers to access IoT devices and their connection without being identified by the enterprises. The enterprises will need real-time security monitoring tools to identify and track botnets proactively.

Replacing the Legacy Enterprise Systems

Many enterprises upgrade their legacy systems and solution to facilitate machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. The legacy systems lack some of the key features embedded in IoT and connected devices. Also, the shortcomings of the interconnected legacy systems make the IoT ecosystem vulnerable to targeted security attacks. The enterprises will not replace the legacy systems with new-generation systems in the near future. But they have to upgrade the legacy systems based on new-age security standards to combat existing and emerging IoT threats.

Unreliability of Conventional Threat Detection Techniques

According to the Cost of Data Breach Report released by IBM,

The average total cost of a data breach is US$ 3.86 million. Also, the enterprises need 280 days on an average to identify and contain a data breach.

The consistent increase in the number of IoT devices will increase the average total cost of a data breach several times. Many enterprises still rely on conventional threat detection techniques to identify and contain data breaches. The conventional threat detection techniques will become obsolete with the growing number and complexity of IoT devices. The enterprises must replace unreliable threat detection tools and techniques to boost IoT security.

Difficulties in Detecting Small Scale Security Attacks

While implementing IoT security strategies, enterprises often focus only on identifying and preventing large-scale security attacks. The decision-makers often ignore the simple fact that small-scale security attacks also have the potential to jeopardize or damage the entire IoT ecosystems. But the small scale attacks, unlike large scale attacks, are difficult to identify and prevent. The hackers can access the IoT infrastructure by executing small scale attacks using simple devices connected to the internet like cameras and printers. The enterprises have to optimize their IoT security strategy frequently to combat attacks of varying scales and severity.

The increased network speed and machine-type communication facilitated by 5G will create many interesting and innovative IoT use cases. But no enterprise can leverage the potential of 5G fully without securing its IoT devices, IoT networks, and IoT infrastructure. The decision-makers must remember that IoT security is an ongoing process. They need to fine-tune the IoT security strategy regularly to combat security threats of varying scales, severity, and nature.

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