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How to best optimise the IoT for your business

Written by Tue 9 Apr 2019

The 9th April, 2019 is celebrated as the global IoT day

IoT Day began back in 2010 and has grown in scale and scope as the IoT becomes more embedded into the everyday. Of all the business who chose to implement the IoT last year, 94% have already seen a return on their IoT investment.

However, the IoT can still be considered a bit of an enigma. As shown, the IoT can bring a lot of potential benefits to an organisation if utilised correctly, but many are unaware how to best utilise it. With this in mind, seven industry experts give their advice to Techerati on IoT Day, as to how companies can best optimise the Internet of Things.

Take control of your data

When it comes to the IoT, data can be one of the biggest struggles a business has to deal with. “We are in the middle of an IoT explosion,” believes Neil Barton, CTO at WhereScape. “With an expected 20 billion IoT devices by 2020, the resulting volume of data to be generated can be overwhelming to consider, and will be underutilised without the appropriate data infrastructure in place to leverage it.”

Essentially, the IoT is generating more data than many organisations can cope with. However, there is a solution, as Barton goes on to suggest, “technologies, such as streaming data automation, can help companies to minimise any struggle around ingestion by helping IT teams to rapidly design, develop, deploy and operate the processing infrastructure needed.

“With real-time processing, companies can gain a competitive edge and insight into their business which will open opportunities for revenue growth, cost savings and operational improvements.”

Consider the cloud

A key contributing factor to the IoT’s ongoing success is the prevalence of the cloud and low latency networks. As Eltjo Hofstee, MD at Leaseweb UK Ltd, explains, the success of the IoT is all around us, “from watches and homes, to offices and cars, ever-increasing data usage from consumers and businesses the world over continues to drive the upsurge in IoT.”

Hofstee believes that it’s due to availability of the cloud and low-latency, as they also enable easy deployment and inter-device communication. Additionally, they “support data analytics, and help minimise security risks.”

“IT and business leaders who take this into account as they re-evaluate data strategies, learning as much as possible about the benefits of cloud and specifically hybrid cloud, will be ahead of the curve in planning for a future with ubiquitous IoT,” concludes Hofstee.

Keep it safe and secure

IoT has been beneficial in so many aspects of life; take for example connected medical devices that enable early diagnosis of illness. But connecting everything has its downsides.

One of the biggest areas of IoT confusion, is how to best keep it secure. As Pramod Borkar, Technical Marketing Lead at Exabeam, comments, “the challenge of securing IoT is complex and extensive due to the fact that IoT devices are deployed over a wide attack surface and contain numerous threat vectors, such as authentication and authorisation, software, device threats, network threats, and OS level vulnerabilities.”

Additionally, as Steve Armstrong, Regional Director, UK & Ireland at Bitglass, points out, “most enterprise users would agree that they lack visibility and confidence in their control of IoT devices connected to their network – this leaves them vulnerable to attack – the cost to reputation is one thing, but IoT devices are used in mission critical systems; it is only a matter of time before we see an enterprise organisation brought to its knees by an IoT hack.”

This can sound like an unsettling prospect for a business, but there are things organisations can do in order to keep their IoT usage secure. And, as Brett Cheloff, VP of ConnectWise Automate believes, “as the industry changes to meet the needs of a new tech generation, security will continue to evolve, and industry leaders will be closely monitoring the changes.  With security built right into new solutions, technology solution providers should be looking to their own tools to sync, support, and secure.”

Borkar believes that the most important step organisations can take to make sure their IoT devices are secure, is to “view them as assets or entities that are open to attacks in multiple ways.” He continues, “it’s essential to understand IoT device baseline behaviour to be able to identify deviations from established patterns. This enables you to pinpoint rogue activities, such as insider threats for obtaining compromised credentials, accessing sensitive data, and lateral movement within the network. Profiling the authorised person(s) who accesses each IoT device provides important data on its valid use and overall health.”

Additionally, Todd Kelly, Chief Security Officer at Cradlepoint, thinks that “cybersecurity concerns are real when it comes to IoT but by using expert cloud-based management platforms and software-defined perimeter technologies, they can be effectively addressed. On IoT Day and every day, it’s important to remember there will always be IoT devices that are compromised and vulnerabilities that are exposed but just as we’ve built these technologies, we’ve also built the safety constructs to protect them. If we commit to tried and true security practices while adopting new approaches that leverage wireless, software-defined and cloud technologies we don’t have to let our concerns unduly impact our progress.”

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Don’t forget, if you’re a business, you don’t have to tackle this alone. “It’s all of our jobs to protect the Internet from [an IoT] attack,” believes Jan van Vliet, VP and MD at Digital Guardian. “Security researchers and product developers certainly play a role in that via our research and the application of the technology we develop which enables organisations and individuals to detect, identify, analyse, remediate, and mitigate these types of attacks and others.

“End users owe it to themselves to be diligent above and beyond simply securing the devices in question; they need to consider the fact that the networks – where they are small office or home networks or enterprises – require diligence and observance from a security perspective. It is foolish to assume that just because we purchase an IP-enabled device and add it to our environments that the device in question is secure or that our networks are secured to the point of mitigating unwanted/unauthorised bi-directional communication and control.”

This IoT Day, organisations should look into reconsidering how the IoT could help benefit the business as a whole. With more and more devices becoming connected, it’s certain that there’s an advantage for nearly every business when it comes to the IoT, and with the above advice, companies can make sure it’s being utilised to its optimal potential.

Written by Tue 9 Apr 2019

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Cloud cybersecurity data IoT
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