There are already over 15 billion IoT devices worldwide. There are more of them than smartphones and (desktop and laptop) computers combined. That’s why it is rather uncomely that many organizations tend to ignore IoT devices regarding cybersecurity. They are prone to cyber attacks, and they can become a serious weakness in an organization’s security posture.
It is reassuring to know, however, that the IoT security problem is not without solutions. There are existing tools to address the security threats posed by the rapidly growing IoT ecosystem. In particular, there are software solutions developed to address different types of threats that affect IoT devices or settings that involve the use of IoT. Here’s a rundown of some of the most important solutions.
Runtime protection solutions
IoT devices are electronic products designed to connect to a network to perform specific functions. They are unlike computers, smartphones, and other larger devices with sophisticated operating systems, though, being generally low-resource devices that run simple or basic software to operate. They have limited data storage and processing power. They are unable to run standalone cybersecurity software, so they are usually incapable of protecting themselves from cyber-attacks. They do not have the means to detect threats, let alone handle complex and persistent attacks.
In many cases, IoT devices are secured externally. They are inspected by separate systems or automated scanners hosted in other devices or the cloud. This is not necessarily not the right way to do it, but it would be better if the IoT devices themselves could address threats on their own instead of waiting for periodic security testing conducted by an external cybersecurity system.
To address this security challenge, the concept of runtime protection was developed. IoT security at the runtime level makes it possible to secure individual devices autonomously and catch vulnerabilities promptly. The software solutions used here can perform runtime exploit prevention, memory integrity testing, supply chain security, as well as communication protocol protection.
Runtime protection solutions are usually aimed at IoT device manufacturers to enable them to secure their products in line with new regulations concerning the Internet of Things. The Executive Order issued by President Biden, for example, includes a directive requiring manufacturers to bake security into their products. This means that IoT device makers need a dependable way to come up with inherently protected products if they want to enter the US market.
Runtime protection is a viable way to provide credible security for the Internet of Things while complying with existing and emerging cybersecurity regulations. It does not only identify and prevent known threats, it can also address zero-day threats and undertake continuous monitoring.
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions
SIEM is a cybersecurity system designed to gather, analyze, and generate reports on security-related data collected from various sources within an organization. It enables broad security visibility by accounting for all IT assets in an organization and monitoring the possible vulnerabilities, threats, and attacks. It consolidates all security-relevant data to harness them for vulnerability detection, threat anticipation, and attack response and mitigation.
SIEM solutions are useful in IoT security in four main ways: proper security visibility, security data correlation and analysis, access control and identity management, and timely response. Most SIEM software products provide functions that enable these benefits.
IoT devices are difficult to oversee because of their number and the tendency to have them connected and disconnected from the network at an unpredictable frequency. SIEM ensures that they are accounted for by regularly collecting information about them and consolidating the information in a centralized platform that makes it easy to monitor the devices, including possible vulnerabilities and anomalies. Most SIEM platforms are also designed to conduct real-time continuous monitoring to maximize security visibility.
With comprehensive data collection, SIEM enables data correlation and meaningful analysis to support faster and more accurate threat detection. The availability of real-time data provides the ability to identify the latest threats. Together with behavioral analysis (for SIEMs that include UEBA capabilities), SIEM can also detect and prevent zero-day attacks.
Additionally, SIEM supports systematic access control and identity management, which are crucial for the secure deployment of IoT devices. These low-resource devices usually do not get a lot of attention when it comes to cybersecurity. As such, access to them is often taken for granted, which creates opportunities for threat actors—especially insiders—to undertake adversarial actions using their unregulated device access privileges. SIEM can help oversee and control these attack opportunities.
Moreover, SIEM allows organizations to respond to threat incidents in a more timely manner. With its centralized security visibility and threat analysis capabilities, it makes it easy to spot security weaknesses and anomalous activities. SIEM also comes with a robust alert and notification system that ensures that a pileup of false positives and inaccurate security details does not conceal the most urgent alerts.
There are security experts who propose the integration of SIEM in IoT ecosystems because of its effectiveness in securing numerous IoT devices. It provides palpable benefits in terms of security visibility and data analysis while ensuring rapid incident response and sensible device access regulation.
Extended Detection and Response (XDR)
IoT devices are endpoints in a network, so many will probably expect that this list would include Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) as the third cybersecurity product. However, in light of the evolving nature of threats on IoT devices, Extended Detection and Response (XDR) would be a preferable option. Also, XDR is usually built on EDR, so it also comes with all the features and functions of EDR.
Extended Detection and Response protects IoT devices through its multi-layered threat detection capabilities, which usually include EDR, Network Detection and Response (NDR), and Cloud Detection and Response (CDR). It also comes with UEBA as well as security response automation and orchestration, threat intelligence integration, and security data correlation. Additionally, XDR can integrate with SIEM to bolster data analysis and threat detection capabilities. It also supports detailed digital forensic investigations and IoT device profiling.
XDR is a valuable solution for dependable IoT security. Just like SIEM, it also ensures comprehensive security visibility, enhances security data handling, and boosts incident responses. Its scalable and flexible nature also makes it a suitable solution for addressing the security needs of rapidly growing IoT ecosystems.
Organizations can use software solutions that enable runtime protection, security information and event management, and threat detection and response to secure IoT devices. They are not the only solutions for IoT security but they are among the most dependable, especially in the context of evolving modern cyber threats. Runtime protection solutions for IoT devices are often intended for IoT manufacturers while SIEM and XDR are for organizations that use IoT devices.