Internet of Things (IoT) devices provide a powerful way to utilize technology to enhance everyday machines in your home or office, from wrist fitness bands to refrigerators to thermostats. The ability to monitor your home security cameras while you’re on vacation, or tell your coffee machine to skip tonight’s brew, makes life a little easier.
New Technology, New Network Security Holes
Internet-enabled devices create new security holes that cyber criminals can exploit to steal your information. While you’re probably not storing your credit card information on your IoT washing machine, the device itself could serve as a springboard or gateway for hackers to compromise any system inside your network. The Target store hack in late 2013 is a high-profile example of how criminals can wreak havoc by exploiting an IoT device.
The Target breach didn’t start with an attack on payment servers via the Internet; instead, hackers attacked the system through an HVAC subcontractor’s authentication credentials and made their way in to the main Target network through an air conditioning IoT control device. While the Target hack did expose credit card information, the attack could have been even worse if it gathered enough information for criminals to commit identity theft or drain bank accounts.
Securing Your Network for IoT Devices: The Best Options
A network security breach is a huge productivity killer, typically requiring hours of work to secure the network and compromised personal accounts. While the IoT device security threats may be discouraging for potential technology adopters, you could be missing out on some incredible innovations by refusing to implement IoT devices.
IoT devices can be used safely in your home or business when combined with either a dual-firewall or a firewall with a De-Militarized Zone configuration to isolate Internet-connected devices and stop hackers from using them as a network entry point.
A DMZ is a separate network that sits between the Internet and your in-office or in-home network, offering a more secure environment than the Internet but less secure than your protected internal network. Devices located in the DMZ are severely limited in which other devices in the network they can communicate with, and how they do it — blocking hackers from accessing your laptop after they’ve hacked your IoT wristband.
Since IoT devices are unlikely to receive the same level of security updates and patches as computers and network hardware, they are more vulnerable to security breaches.
You can configure a DMZ with a dual-firewall configuration, or with a higher-end firewall that has DMZ capability.
Alternatively, you can configure a second wireless network that exclusively hosts IoT devices for complete network separation. Under the two-network setup, hackers that break in to IoT devices find themselves on a completely different network than the one that contains your secure information.
IoT security concerns can be minimized with the proper preemptive configuration. IT consulting firms and managed service providers (MSPs) can help you establish a secure network environment if you’re not sure how to configure your firewall(s) for DMZ protection.