Does industrial IoT need a fresh security approach?

The Internet of Things has found its way into an industrial setting at a rapid pace

With this fresh fleet of IoT devices, however, come potential security risks as each device functions as a potential attack vector. Here are a few guidelines for a solid industrial IoT security strategy.

Stay Educated

The size of the IoT, on a global scale, makes it a tempting target. Small vulnerabilities can compromise large networks, and malicious actors understand there’s plenty to gain by infiltrating systems. Keep up to date with news about recent security breaches, and look for trends. Vigilance is key for keeping on top of security, and education is a great way to ensure you’re aware of any lurking threats.

Reassess Access Restrictions

Adding IoT devices makes your overall network more complex, and devices present potential new attack opportunities. Take some time to evaluate your network’s permissions setup so IoT devices only have the access they need. It’s worth checking employee permissions as well. By limiting individuals’ access, you can limit the damage done if one of your employee’s accounts is hacked. There’s always someone who will click on anything.

Data Processing on the Edge

Most of the data captured on industrial IoT devices is of little value to hackers; it’s the centralized data that presents a threat to companies. Through edge computing and processing data on IoT devices or other equipment away from the centralized server, you can limit communication between your device and main server infrastructure. By limiting data sent from IoT devices, you can better reduce any potential attack and ensure your important data remains safe even if IoT devices are compromised.

Smart Scaling

When embracing industrial IoT concepts, many companies jump from testing to full implementation quickly. While testing is essential, it’s not always enough to fully understand how IoT devices will function once they’re all completely installed. Consider rolling out your IoT infrastructure slowly, and test out components over time instead of installing them all at once. A more deliberate roll out will help you detect potential security problems before hackers do.

Patching Schedule

Adopting IoT devices in an industrial environment often entails using products from various companies, which can make the process of patching your devices complex. Find out if patches are released for your devices on a schedule or if they’re only released when problems arise. Set aside time for finding if patches have been released, and make sure to document any security patches you apply. Treating this maintenance work with the same rigor as an automobile or airplane mechanic helps foster a productive mindset in the office, and it gives you a valuable paper trail if questions about your network’s security come up.

Effective Data Storage

Handling your data internally is a viable option for many businesses, and the convenience and security of cloud hosting makes third-party data storage an attractive option for many companies. However, businesses often rely on multiple data storage paradigms, which can lead to confusing and unwieldy data management. Take a top-down view of your data storage, and find out if you can simplify it. Every device storing important data represents a potential threat to your company, and any you can eliminate makes your network more secure. This is especially important in the IoT era, as effectively wrangling your data is essential for keeping your network under control and secure.

Pay Extra Attention to Legacy Systems

Legacy systems are often unavoidable in industrial environments, and many networks will need to integrate them. Incorporating these systems often means connecting them to the internet for the first time, and many systems simply aren’t designed with security in mind. Be cautious with legacy systems, and consider tying their access to the network directly to a more modern device. Another option to consider is simply leaving legacy systems offline. In some cases, simply copying files using a USB drive after the workday has ended might be a better option.

Return to the Basics

When thinking about all the additional security requirements industrial IoT devices require, it’s important keep an eye on basic security practices. Poor passwords are still as dangerous as ever before, and enforcing a strong password policy can protect your data. Furthermore, educating workers about keeping data secure can go a long way toward preventing hacks.

The Internet of Things is growing quickly, and the tools it can provide make it a valuable addition in industrial environments. However, IoT devices can also present

strong risks, and companies need to stay on top of potential threats. Through planning and rigor, companies can ensure their IoT devices are kept as secure as possible.