IoT and Cyber-Security – How the Two Should Intertwine for Your Business

Learn about various scenarios of data encryption protocols within corporate IoT networks to accommodate ever-changing demands for cybersecurity for businesses in different industries.

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Illustration: © IoT For All

With the continuous development of IoT devices and other enterprise-grade technologies, businesses have had to develop a keen understanding of cyber-security and its consequences. But, there’s more to understanding cyber-security then just taking the “simple” steps to ensure it.

Even with the broad understanding we have today of cyber-criminal tactics, the cost of cyber-criminal activity is still expected to reach $6 trillion by 2021.

“The trend now is after business-email compromise. Businesses are being targeted by hackers. They are trying to go after the staff of those companies. It can be anything from imitating an executive to a vendor” — Jon Moen, the Senior Vice President and Director of Product at First Bank commented on Fox News.

With employees being the main target of compromise, a few businesses have turned to enterprise mobile app development to provide secure team communication and to alleviate the potential loopholes that cyber-criminals look for.

IoT and business functionality go hand-in-hand, which is why it’s critical to raise awareness among employees over various cyber-criminal tactics. But, it also becomes fundamental to ensure the platforms you use to collaborate are isolated and secure.

Ensuring Adequate Encryption Protocols on User Devices

It’s not surprising to see more medium-to-large business entities investing more resources into ensuring their business devices have secure encryption protocols in place.

Adequate data encryption has three critical steps reviewed below:

1) Understand Your Business and Security Factors

The first step to setting up business-wide encryption protocols is to determine exactly what security measures will suit your business. It’s important to take into account various internal and external government policies. Some important mandates include:

  • PCI DSS — The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is the compliance regulation holding businesses responsible for client credit card information and preventing criminal activities through the negligence of data management.
  • HIPAA — The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act mandates the responsible handling of sensitive medical information to prevent healthcare fraud and personal data abuse.
  • GLBA — The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act ensures active communication between businesses and customers on financial-related data usage and protection.

2) Utilize Encryption Protocols Within Your Cloud Architectures

With more businesses turning to the cloud, it’s likely that this will be a vital consideration you need to make when investing in data encryption. Aspects ranging from key generation and storage to meeting compliance regulations and mandates with client information all come into focus.

In this respect, it’s important to ensure role-based access encryption limited to employee responsibilities. This can be the initial step necessary to guarantee the efficiency of sensitive data protection within an enterprise.

3) Consider Your Encryption Techniques

The simplified form of encryption is the process of disorganizing readable sensitive data into an unreadable format and locking this format with a unique token or key. The key is also known as the decryption key, which allows the algorithm to reverse the process of scrambling the data. There are a few well-known encryption methods including:

Data Encryption Standard (DES) — The same key is used to both encrypt and decrypt information. Meaning the user, as well as the receiver, must have access to the private key.

Triple-DES — This is almost identical to DES, yet the major difference is that instead of encrypting each block of information once, blocks go through triple encryption.

RSA — This is an asymmetric encryption system, which generates both a public key and a private one. However, because this method is slower, it’s more common to pass around symmetric keys due to the efficiency in comparison.

Securing Your Authentication Processes

As Jon Moen mentioned, more cyber-criminals are looking to exploit employees’ weaknesses. This makes it vital to protect your own communication channels from being breached. One way is to use authentication to add another layer of security to your sensitive business information.

A prime example of how authentication can prevent cyber-criminal activities is the Timehop security incident that happened last year. This is something that could have been prevented with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), one of the three main types of authentication protocols.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA):

Multi-factor authentication focuses on evidence-based authentication. The most common questions include:

  • Knowledge: something only the user will know about.
  • Possession: something the user has, but they are the only ones who know they have it.
  • Inherence: a way of describing the user from their own perspective.

This authentication mechanism is secure due to the personal angle used to ensure that it’s the “real” user in front of the device.

2-Factor Authentication:

This form of authentication deals with something only the user knows and something that the user possesses. A prime example of this would be withdrawing money at an ATM. You know your bank card pin, and you have your unique card. A 2-factor authentication system can be created for your business too, to protect sensitive data transmitted across multiple devices.

Two-Step Verification, or 2-Step Authentication:

This authentication method belongs to the 2-factor authentication group. However, compared to the latter, it confirms the identity by utilizing something users know, such as a password, as well as something they own, for example, a one time password sent to a mobile device.

Afterword

Compliance and regulation mandates make it increasingly difficult for businesses to combat cyber-crime within their IoT networks. However, with these security measures, you have a higher chance of preventing the worst from happening to your business.