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Designing Cybersecurity Into The IoT

Designing cybersecurity into the IoT

The Internet of Things is fast coming to every workplace, home and city. In a few decades, it will be as ubiquitous as email – and it’ll require the same, stringent security processes, if not more. That means organisations must work now to lay the foundations for the security of the IoT.

To be effective, IoT devices are going to have to work together. A connected babygro, for instance, will provide useful data about a baby’s sleeping patterns and breathing, but once connected to a home’s lighting and alarm systems, it becomes one of the most important alert systems in a house. If a baby stops breathing, it can automatically turn on the lights and wake up the parents.

Building trust

In order for this to happen securely, devices must have consistency in standards and best practice. Manufacturers will have to feel assured that their devices can communicate safely with other devices without the risk of a weak spot in their security.

Building trust in the security of the IoT is critical to its success. It begins with standardising security, so that every organisation understands what levels to achieve. For example, implementing a certificate scheme, much like the CE mark used to ensure health and safety in products across Europe would be useful. Having a clearly defined signal of IoT security will highlight the companies that follow best practice and will reassure partner organisations about the processes followed.

These best practices include knowing if a device has the right to perform a certain task or if a person interacting with a device has the correct authorisation to do so. Longer-term, these best practices can translate into legislation that improves the level of security across the industry.

Security from the start

Security cannot be a bolt-on in the IoT; because of the resources available in IoT chips, it has to be implemented from the start. At inception, security must be top-of-mind, created through a product manager, to the engineering team who practically deliver the requirements. It’s about creating a secure IP and supply chain. Plus, putting components in place that allow for device management over its lifecycle, so businesses can serve patches to it to maintain security.

Stakeholder alliance

There are many stakeholders involved in IoT cybersecurity. From OEMs with early design internet to semiconductor companies and software firms, plus, end-users must also be considered. Security processes will be different depending on whether or not a device is consumer-facing or machine-to-machine.

But security is a word that holds many meanings for different people. Working with all of your stakeholders begins with defining who they are, their expectations and current cybersecurity legislation. It’s also worth considering how each stakeholder values security – don’t wait for a breach to determine cybersecurity’s value.

Essential for future growth

Securing the IoT is vital if the technology is to push forward and be used by every organisation and consumer. Individuals must be able to trust that the devices around them are protected, that the data created is accurate and that IoT devices are robust, especially as artificial intelligence begins to interact with it and machines begin controlling each other. If we’re going to be hands-off with the IoT, it cannot be compromised.

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