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The Necessity of the Hour: IOT Security

Oct 21, 2016

With the arrival of low power sensors, energy efficient controllers and processors, the advancements in communication, particularly in the wireless communication have hastened the reach and growth of IOT. This exponential growth is causing concerns for both data privacy and its security. Any network that has nodes with a programmable interface can possibly have a network security threat. More the devices get added to the network, the more fragile it would become.

IOT is going to stay here for long, and since the security of the data cannot be compromised, the concerns must be addressed right from the initial phase of the development. The IOT security processes must be positioned across each phase of designing, coding, installation, authorization and maintenance.

Let’s discuss the IOT security issues, and how these can be addressed to ensure the security of data.

Secure programming

The most reported security incidents have been caused due to programmers’ non-adherence to secured programming standards. With IOT devices, the threat of using the non-secure processes and functions increase the risk of weakening the link and exposing the network to attacks. This is pretty avoidable, if the programmer adheres to a few steps while coding, such as avoiding the use of non-secure functions, by using the latest updates for tool chains and by adapting to the Code Reviews and Code Analysis for security susceptibilities.

There are tools that perform the static analysis on C and C++ source files to enforce the rules in the CERT C Coding standard.

Multi network connect and lack of encryption of the data transferred over the network

Internet of Things is a heterogeneous mix of communication protocols and media. While the wireless communications are open to air, most of the protocols are open to the public, and the devices are limited with resources to implement strong security algorithms for communication. These factors contribute to the security challenges as they generally are overlooked, leaving the network prone to attacks.

Following are the kind of attacks on the IOT network:

Active attacksare carried out to interrupt the network. They are difficult to detect because of the heterogeneity of the network. There are various tools and techniques to detect and counterbalance these attacks on Wi-Fi 802.11, but the same on Bluetooth, ZigBee, NFC and Wireless Direct pose numerous challenges.

Passive attacks are carried out with the aim of stealing confidential data, and sobbing on the network. These attacks often go unobserved, are difficult to detect, and are usually an insider’s activity.

The best practice to deal with these encounters is to the encrypt data before it is sent out to the open communication channels. But the encryption and decryption of data adds to the outlays of the limited computational ability of the IOT processors and sensors. Thus, a lot of introspection is required when choosing the best alternative between security and the computational ability.

Identification and authorization of the connected devices

The IOT devices have a certain attack metrics in their lifecycle, which needs to be addressed to secure them completely.

Boot Image Security:Since most IOT devices are programmed over the air, it is possible to program them with spiteful images without identification. This gives rise to control being turned down to an intruder. To secure image, ‘Boot Image Identification Mechanism’ should be presented with a digital signature to empower the legitimacy of the image. This can be used to check every-time the program is booted in.

Role Based Login Authorization: The IOT devices are encoded to connect to the user with a single login and be recognized with the MAC address. The intruder can easily spoof the MAC address and attack the network.  The ‘Role Based Login’ should be integrated to counter data theft and device incursions.

Device Network Identification: Most of the IOT Devices start the transmission of data over the network the moment they are connected, leaving them more susceptible to active attacks.

To avoid any accidents, the device network should have a second level of handshake verification, specific to the network and device before it diffuses data over the network.

Repairing of the Identified Security Threats

Most IOT sensor devices are fixed and forgotten about, and is a bad practice which can severely compromise the security of the network. Though, it is vital to identify and fix the security defects in the future products, the present infrastructure and products must not be left behind with the security susceptibilities. Just like we have updates for the security for our personal devices, the same practice must be adopted for the network security susceptibilities. With these practices, all the devices, whether in critical or non-critical operations, can be secured.

Conclusion

Security is of high importance for the health of IOT Device Network. Since the devices have become smarter with artificial learning capabilities and added intelligence, they have also become more prone to attacks. IOT development companies must clinch these security solutions to secure the network. The solutions described above can be the first small steps towards the security of the IOT Network.

About Author

Seasia Infotech is a CMMi5 certified company providing Software Development, Mobile Application Development and Digital Marketing services to businesses worldwide. We embrace the latest technologies to deliver solutions that address our clients’ business challenges. We focus on resolving the IT conundrum for our clients thereby enabling them to focus on their core business strengths.