IoT-Cloud Convergence Security Guide | #cloudsecurity


Illustration: © IoT For All

IoT, a technology that connects people, things, devices, and companies, has seen tremendous growth in popularity. In the age of the pandemic, IoT became one of the solutions in the world of minimized social interaction. Cloud computing combined with IoT makes it possible to solve the toughest challenges for your business. However, the increased demand for remotely-controlled devices raises concerns about IoT cloud security. Whether your company has been digitized or is just starting the conversion, it will face the security risks of IoT and cloud integration. Fortunately, there are ways of reducing these risks.

IoT-Cloud Security Challenges

Let’s take a look at several security challenges facing IoT and cloud integration.

#1: Centralization of Access

The API gateway in the cloud protected by a firewall restricts incoming and outgoing traffic. This feature of IoT and cloud technology reduces the attack surface. At the same time, the question of firewall effectiveness arises. Narrowing the cyberattack surface makes the target obvious and thus attractive to a potential hacker.

#2: Insecure Communication & Data Flow Between Edge and Cloud

Access control is a method that guarantees the identification of the user and their access rights to the company data. The endpoints or the cloud might lack security features such as authentication, authorization, and data encryption. In this case, the access controls and the integrity of the transferred data are at risk.

#3: Privacy and Authorization Issues

The way IoT devices and sensors collect sensitive data is critical for businesses. In the cloud ecosystem, information is transferred to an interoperable space. In the case of a public cloud, the data is available to other users and customers. Where the data is stored and how the information is processed and transmitted are crucial for privacy.

#4: Poor Implementation of IoT

As the business expands, the number of people who access the organization’s network grows. This increases the number of endpoints that connect the ecosystem of IoT with the cloud, which in turn raises the risk of cyberattacks. If security breaches are present in the access points and IoT device network, they will affect the cloud, too.

#5: Cloud Vulnerabilities

Misconfiguration of cloud environments and resources leaves your systems vulnerable to attacks and might result in sensitive data leaks. Incorrect settings can cause system outages and unwanted downtime, which will result in service disruption. These and similar issues are common for both cloud and IoT security as long as the ecosystems are integrated.

#6: Lack of Built-In Security Patches

IoT application security can only be guaranteed through constant updates and patches. Some IoT devices work with obsolete or legacy operating systems that cannot be patched. Thus, ensuring the secure operation of such an ecosystem is highly questionable.

#7: Lack of Employee Awareness

According to The Verizon 20221 Data Breach Investigations Report, 30 percent of all breaches in 2020 involved insiders. The statistics demonstrate the need for employee education about phishing attacks and other social engineering techniques. 

Ensure Your Cloud-IoT Security

Feel confident that your cloud and IoT security is strong by implementing the following tips:

Monitor and Secure the Flow of Data

Endpoint protection is pivotal for the implementation of cloud and IoT security. Enterprises should administer monitoring and filtering tools to identify blind spots that attackers may target. After the data flow from IoT endpoints to the cloud is protected, other security controls should be added to strengthen the defense.

Employ Secure Development Process

According to the future trends in IoT solution development, companies should ensure their cloud and IoT security before entering the market. To achieve the safety of the network, experts recommend finding its weaknesses and mapping the potential attack surface.

Take Advantage of Cloud Security Options

IoT devices connected to the cloud environment need to be secured. To minimize the risks of remote attacks, enterprises can use cloud-based IoT security platforms. Cloud providers offer various solutions, including:

  • Registering new devices
  • Grant certificates and private security keys for the devices
  • Resetting devices remotely
  • Installing updates for the firmware and software
  • Threat audit and detection features
  • Cloud monitoring

Sensitive Data On-Premises

Keep these three types of data away from public access:

  1. Personally identifiable information (PII)
  2. Personal healthcare information (PHI)
  3. Financial data 

Use the Cloud to Secure Devices

Additional measures to secure your IoT hardware can be implemented within the cloud. The software called “middleware” is an interface between IoT components. Middleware, often referred to as “software glue,” enables connection between complex programs that were not initially designed to be connected.

Data Encryption

IoT protocols connect devices into one network and enable them to exchange data. Apart from trafficking data packages, the protocol functions include network security and device compatibility. The most frequently used IoT protocols are MQTT, CoAP, and XMPP.

RESTfulAPIs in IoT Software Development

Representational State Transfer (REST) is an architectural style that defines a set of constraints used for creating web services. Application Programming Interface (API) is a set of rules that define how software components interconnect. In cloud services, RESTful APIs connect the provider and the consumers.

IoT-Cloud convergence creates a complex ecosystem of hardware and software elements. In IoT, the majority of cases follow the event-driven architecture pattern. The software pattern can be described as the creation, consumption, and identification of events.

APIs allow building context-based applications that can interact with the physical world. REST allows data to flow over internet protocols and delegate and manage authorization. With the help of RESTful APIs, a single app can utilize software written with multiple programming languages. The combination of REST and API is critical for the IoT-Cloud ecosystem and ensures its flexible, scalable, and secure management.

Clear Access Control Plan

Access control is a security method that regulates who or what can view or use resources in a computing environment. In order to minimize risks of unauthorized actions within the IoT Cloud, every device has to have a unique identity. The authentication while the device tries to connect to a gateway or central network can be performed through:

  • IP or MAC (media access control) address
  • Unique identity keys
  • Security certificates

Another device identification technology is machine learning (ML), which boosts IoT security. The tool can analyze IoT device traffic and establish authorized behavioral profiles. ML algorithms can successfully detect traffic deviations and intrusions and add more security layers to authentication and access management.

Continuous Updates

IoT-Cloud device manufacturers and providers have to keep their products up-to-date to satisfy the market needs. The Cloud-IoT ecosystem security also relies on timely upgrades.

Patches can add new functionality to the devices. However, these tiny updates are generally designed to repair bugs and security vulnerabilities or prevent future ones within IoT and cloud applications and operating systems. Otherwise, unpatched software containing security bugs becomes an easy target for attackers and less resistant to malicious codes.

Patch management of IoT devices can be performed manually. After an IoT security compliance check and audit, IT admins interact on-site with the components of the IoT-Cloud network to implement new patches and updates. This process might be complex and time-consuming, especially for companies with multiple servers and endpoints. It is possible to manage and automate patching remotely, operating the process entirely from the cloud. Remote patching and security management can save both time and money that could be spent on product recall or vendor services.

Secure Passwords

Weak credentials are easy for the attackers aiming to gain access to systems in your IoT-Cloud network. In order to secure the IoT devices and linked cloud services, follow these recommendations:

  1. Do not use default passwords.
  2. All IoT devices and cloud services should get unique passwords that cannot be downgraded to the factory default ones.
  3. Change passwords on your IoT device before connecting to the internet through protected networks.
  4. Audit IoT devices regularly. Newly-detected devices should be authenticated, and their default password should be changed before accessing the network.
  5. In addition to passwords, avoid default and standard usernames such as admin; use hard-coded ones instead.

OAuth 2.0 Authentication

The Open Authorization (OAuth) is a user authentication and authorization framework. The most recent version, OAuth 2.0, makes it possible for users to access IoT devices through third-party accounts (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google Home, Nest, etc.). OAuth 2.0 delegates access to the user’s data without sharing their credentials with another third party such as IoT-Cloud solutions providers.

Wrap-Up

IoT-Cloud solutions are in demand, creating new business opportunities. However, concerns about cybersecurity have risen with this popularity. By adopting the above-mentioned offline precautions and cloud solutions, enterprises can minimize security risks and satisfy their customers.





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