Chapter 1: How does IoT device segmentation benefit your Wi-Fi infrastructure network?
IoT devices are now everywhere, from modern office buildings to corner shops. IoTs are rapidly being deployed in most strategic economic sectors, such as energy, transport, agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing, and mining, and smart offices at a fast pace… Potentials are limitless and, from our point of view, largely unlocked.
Today, there are over 7 billion (sources noted at the end of the article) connected objects around the globe, and that number is rapidly expanding. The soaring demand for IoT devices exposes businesses of all sizes to vulnerabilities and security risks. New IoT devices are being designed and deployed faster than they could be made safe. We strongly believe that a defined security IoT framework is vital for modern corporations.
In this series of articles, we share our vision and why we believe IoT network segmentation is a solution to explore, if not the answer.
What makes enterprise networks vulnerable?
The proliferation of uncontrolled, unsecured devices, sensors, and third-party components swarm modern-day corporate networks. Nowhere is this more evident or significant threat than Wifi infrastructure networks and LAN environments with outdated network segmentation solutions.
For example, many enterprises still rely on VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks segments) to group devices and users per type. VLANs can form gigantic groups of networked devices. Within VLANs, no traffic control is implemented. All devices can broadcast and communicate with each other.
A local area network that remains open to new devices is a Petri dish of common security threats such as malware and ransomware. Because internet traffic in an open-segment LAN environment can’t be restricted and controlled, it quickly becomes a target for cybercriminals.
The requirement for easy-to-implement security solutions presents a fundamental challenge, as modern enterprises already have to authenticate and connect more networked devices than they can count. It is very easy to understand that this trend will only increase in the years to come.
Is IoT network segmentation the solution?
There’s good news, though. Even when IoTs share a corporate network, IoT devices don’t need to talk to each other or be connected in a single LAN segment. Aside from a few exceptions, each Internet of Things device can be isolated. In a vast majority of cases, IoT Devices only need to communicate with their cloud servers, these devices can be monitored separately, and their traffic flows can be verified at the appropriate application level. Segmented IoT networks are, therefore, highly controllable.
Modern LAN segmentation solutions allow each device and user to be isolated, while traffic flows can be easily directed towards the cloud or on-premise security equipment. Everything is automatically checked against the policies, and the IoT framework can be managed in-house.
Open-segment LAN environments are detrimental to enterprises, consumers, and the IoT framework itself. We need to discuss where common threats come from, how they can potentially harm your IT, and, most importantly, what you can do about it.
IoT’s weakest link: a valuable target for hackers
Ransomware and malware are cunning infiltrators. They look for their way in on the user level, employing deceiving tactics like phishing and social engineering. Not only are these tactics challenging to see through and avoid, but they are constantly evolving. Ransomware and malware will remain creative to find new ways to trick users and contaminate devices. All networks are weak at the user level; fortunately, there are good practices that can prevent attacks from spreading through the IoT framework.
It doesn’t help that when you look at how IoTs are conceptualized and deployed, the technology behind it seems fundamentally flawed. IoT devices’ sheer quantity and diversity pose colossal management and security challenges. IoT involves more than just devices – it also connects cloud technologies and can potentially transport sensitive data.
It’s only a matter of time before your vulnerable network gets contaminated through phishing or social engineering. If not properly secured, IoT can be used to amplify the scale of ransomware and malware.
Large corporate networks have a considerable number of entry points; each is a potential cyberattack gateway. In this series of blog posts, our objective is to dive deeper into the many vulnerabilities of IoT networks and possible solutions to these emerging threats. This series of articles aims to open the conversation and share potential solutions with our industry peers, technology partners, and customers. We believe that organizing IoT network segmentation and defining precise IoT frameworks will be part of the answer. As we are working hard to architect tomorrow's IoT security management platform we would love to hear your thoughts.