Click to learn more about author Don Boxley.
IT executives have a lot to think about, especially now, when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT). As IoT has entered the daily lives of the general public, IoT devices and platforms are on the rise across the planet with seemingly limitless user applications. IoT devices have proliferated to such a degree that they’re now found everywhere, from homes and vehicles to more industry-specific use cases such as farms, freeways, and doctor’s offices.
Yet as IoT multiplies its connective and communicative powers, the billions of internet-connected things also open new cans of worms when it comes to security — issues that IT decision-makers and executives responsible for IoT implementation must grapple with. IoT devices with greater functionality store more user data and, thus, have even more vulnerability to being compromised.
Take the super popular Raspberry Pi (RasPi) platform. Its low cost and accessibility have made it the go-to platform for creating IoT devices, and it seems like everyone is utilizing this user-friendly “gold standard for inexpensive, single-board computing.” Of course, once a platform that collects user data and details proliferate, so do the chances of IoT security breaches and exploitation by cybercriminals. For all of the benefits that RasPi and other IoT platforms bring to connecting our world and creating opportunities in every industry, they also potentially expose a storehouse of personal/identity data that may contain a user’s name, age, health information, location, and financial details. IT execs planning to leverage the best features of IoT platforms must now figure out how to mitigate the worst possibility that can come from the use of these platforms: data compromise.
One way to safeguard the data on IoT platforms is through traditional perimeter security: virtual private networks (VPNs). When it comes to protecting data sent via WiFi, VPNs can be helpful. But they were only really designed for securing private networks on the internet and weren’t crafted with an eye to IoT and its unique security issues. Because of this, VPNs that are meant to improve security can actually end up inadvertently creating security gaps. VPNs don’t require each user to obtain IT authorization, which means everyone in-network has unfettered access to the network’s full range of assets and applications. When it comes to IoT devices, which can usually auto-connect to the network, it becomes even more likely that VPNs could open the door to unauthorized access.
Clearly, companies need a more secure alternative in the age of IoT, and one option is a software-defined perimeter (SDP) software. More organizations across diverse industries are starting to leverage the combination of SDP’s security and RasPi’s ubiquity. SDP software improves security by removing an IoT device’s network presence. SDP also reduces potential attack surfaces — a major advantage over VPN solutions.
By allowing for app-level segmentation, SDP dodges the VPN shortcoming of treating users to full network access. More limited access and isolation at the application level create a “zero trust” environment. This means that with SDP software, every user must be authorized for network access — fully verified and IT-approved — and can then access only specific data and locations as dictated by business needs.
Zero trust may sound intense, but it’s necessary in today’s less secure world of IoT, in which security concerns multiply with each new connected device. IT executives can use SDP software to help mitigate these growing security challenges when using RasPi platforms.