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Six ways to max out network security in the age of IoT

Thu 29 Aug 2019 | Paul Routledge

There are many different methods that you can use to secure your networks against potential threats. Paul Routledge identifies six of the most effective

Internet of Things (IoT) has become the rising star in the world of technology and communications. The demand for IoT devices and technology has been steadily on the rise and according to experts, the number of IoT compatible connected devices will reach 31 billion by 2020. However, as always, the new tech has been met with rising concern when it comes to security.

The landscape of network security is changing all the time with new threats daily. This means that new devices must be secured on a network that provides connectivity and flexibility without compromising security.

This includes cloud enabled products and the devices whose function it is to extend protection, such as surveillance cameras and systems that monitor the network itself. Perhaps IoT is ready for you — but is your network ready for IoT?

The unfortunate truth is that most IoT devices are both insecure and out of date. Because so many IoT gadgets require very little setup, it’s easy to just plug them in and let them run. Some devices are innocuous enough to be left alone.

However, with an appliance that has a direct line to your smartphone or a digital assistant like Alexa, or a security camera, defaults can be a serious threat to your security.

Within the next two years, the amount of smartphone users will reach over 2.87 billion, from 2.57 billion users today. The majority of these users have always-on internet connectivity, providing them the ability to control devices from the palm of their hand, but how does this functionality connect to devices at home or at work?

When your individual devices are secure, the main point of entry into your IoT is going to be through your main network. There are many different methods that you can use to secure your networks against potential threats, but here are a few of the most effective:

A secure firewall

Maintaining your company’s firewall can be daunting, especially if the network it protects has an array of devices. Having a secure firewall in place which can allow you to segment your network and stop intruders can protect local devices. It can also protect those who may have been exposed to viruses and Trojans from a previous network.

“New devices must be secured on a network that provides connectivity and flexibility without compromising security”

For example, having your guest wireless connection on the same LAN as your servers and your other business computers is a bad idea, but buying more equipment need not be the solution, with a managed network the same hardware can be used to provide more than one network at a time

Switches

Switches that provide management functionality can separate networks using the same hardware ensuring devices that are used in one part of a company cannot communicate with a different network segment using virtual LANs.  Access control lists can provide white and blacklisting of clients, and quality of service is able to prioritise traffic that is allowed to pass to optimise the network.

Remote Connectivity

Remote connectivity without compromising other users within the network can be handled by pushing traffic outbound towards secure cloud systems using encrypted methods, this means that there is less chance of a device on the network being turned into an autonomous system by joining a botnet because the cloud is being used to create secure and highly encrypted tunnels.

Data Monitoring

Monitoring how much data is used on your network can allow you to make better business decisions, similar to a smart meter that tells you how much electricity you have used, it allows you to see what is important within your network.

A flexible network allowing you to control what devices can gain access, which can be controlled easily from your phone, allowing you to receive push notifications when an unfamiliar device tries to gain entry to the network, can keep homes safe and secure.

Application Control

Application control, which has long been used on business networks, can now be implemented in the home in order avoid users from accessing sites which cannot be corroborated as safe.

Routers with built in security to detect websites regarded as threats and steering the home user away from dangerous sites, keeps users safe from scam websites and other dangers.

Managing your network from the cloud

Managing your network from the cloud is also possible, but does it mean replacing all devices on your network straight away? Not necessarily. Network devices that bridge between the old and new allow for a pseudo-cloud experience, providing all the benefits and functionality of the cloud, such as web-based portals to change network settings, but while keeping devices on the local network under your own control. Firmware updates which can allow for old devices to connect to the cloud can also reduce the investment in additional hardware, great for managed service providers and end users alike.

Experts featured:

Paul Routledge

Country Manager, UK & Ireland
D-Link

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