The opportunity offered by the IoT is as great as the challenge posed by IoT security. The latter no longer depends only on the software we use, but also the hardware that we have.
We have already written on several occasions about the importance of security in IoT, and especially in the Industrial IoT, as it involves collecting a large amount of sensitive data from a large number of devices, all of them connected to the network. In fact, one of the barriers that companies face to start developing IoT projects is not only their concern about how this can affect their cybersecurity but also their lack of qualified personnel capable of managing it.
Today, the attacks that occur on devices are becoming more diverse and sophisticated. When we focus on IoT, they are even more so. Keep in mind that until now, we have worked with computers or mobile phones that have warned us at all times of the existence of a new software update. And without really knowing why it is important to keep the software updated, we press that «download» button and we update it.
But when we talk about IoT, many of the devices do not even have an interface that allows us to make this series of updates. Not to mention, that we are not able to know from the device itself, by not having a screen, what version of the software is installed.
Therefore, we must understand that IoT devices should not be managed as if they were traditional devices, such as a computer or a mobile. To protect against possible threats, it is required to have IoT security in mind, not only when designing and developing the software that will be responsible for extracting the data, but also when designing and building the hardware that will support or run this software.
While in the case of software, in many cases it is the responsibility of the user to make correct use of it to keep it safe, who is responsible for securing the hardware? The manufacturer.
If we focus on Industrial IoT, the first thing to keep in mind is that the devices that we will install in our deployment are designed to be a long-term investment. This will put us at risk of becoming obsolete in terms of security. That is why we must become aware of what is needed when choosing hardware for IoT and accompany it with software measures that guarantee security over the years.
Before making the decision to purchase the IoT devices, we must analyze if the manufacturer meets a series of requirements that are basic to ensure that the IoT hardware is robust and reliable. Let’s see some of them:
- He works with security by design. It involves manufacturing the hardware with the same philosophy that the software would be developed. This also implies having staff that comes from software and hardware work in its design.
- He includes hardware security chips, which allow storing keys or certificates privately and securely. Thus, the system will be able to encrypt or decrypt the data in a unique way. They are the foundations to generate a Hardware Root of Trust.
- He uses a unique identity for each sensor. This allows identifying in an immutable way as if it were an ID, the device throughout its lifecycle. This avoids confusion when configuring and managing the devices.
The importance of keeping the software updated
It is not the first time we talked about the importance of keeping the devices updated. In addition, and as we have seen in this article, many of the sensors do not have an interface, so it is difficult to know in a simple way the software installed in the devices.
For this, Barbara software, for example, includes a management dashboard (Barbara Panel) that makes it easy for you to manage the devices jointly or independently, taking into account their own identity. This allows knowing quickly and easily the version of the installed software and updating it when needed, so you can maintain your IoT deployment secure.
In addition, Barbara Panel has a system of remote updates to be able to launch software updates to the devices in a secure way. Thus, we will ensure that the device is always with the latest version and therefore, will be protected against new threats or vulnerabilities that are discovered.
In short, security is a software and hardware matter.
There is no way to secure the IoT devices only taking into account one of these two aspects. As technology advances, the hardware may be obsolete, but while we have updated software within it, we can maintain security.