Importance Of Network Security In The IoT Era

by Sohini Bagchi    Jan 08, 2015


The Internet of Things (IoT), which encompasses networked devices ranging from smart thermostats to cellphone-controlled door locks and ultra-small micro-electromechanical systems, as showcased at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES-2015), is expected to generate $300 billion in product and service revenues by 2020. In such a scenario, network security has become paramount. Research shows while, network security remains the highest part of the IT spends in organizations last year, the trend will be more pronounced in 2015. As Internet connected devices are spreading like wildfire, more enterprises will gear up to secure their network.

“In the Internet of Things (IoT) era, where billions of connected devices can provide increased convenience such as smart cities and improved health, there is also significant privacy and security implications,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez during her recent keynote speech at CES. She believes that every kind of service today require collecting, transmitting, storing, and often sharing vast amounts of consumer data, some of it highly personal, thereby creating a number of privacy risks. “Hence, a focus on network security in the IoT era is ever-important.”

Read more: Get Set For IoT Revolution In 2020

Securing your network

According to the latest research by Forrester, 2014 saw an increase in IT security spend with 17 percent of tech security spend went on network security. The next highest spend areas were client threat management at 14 percent, data security at 13 percent and content security, application security and security operations, all at 12 percent.

Network security spend is also set to rise in 2015, with 40 percent of respondents saying that they expect to increase spending in this area in the next one year, said the report. Incident response services, vulnerability assessment services and threat intelligence services are set for growth in 2015, with Forrester noting that “about a third” of network technology decision makers are looking at investing in these areas.

“From consumer technology, IoT has seeped into enterprise technology dynamically changing the way data is accessed, monitored and analysed. The coming months will witness a sea change of evolution in the way IoT is implemented by enterprises, and the need for energy efficiency and better network security will boost this”, agrees Prabhu Ramachandran, Director of ZOHO Corp’s WebNMS Division.

Much of today’s security options require the installation of software on devices or the passing of credentials to gain access to the network. Both of these paradigms are inconsistent in the IoT era, believes Jim McMurry, network security expert and current CEO of Milton Security in Southern California.

The act of smartening up

“These devices are designed to require as little interaction as possible and to just work. Your network has to be smart enough to adapt to these new devices and monitor network traffic for intruders. You can’t load security software on these cool things, so you have to secure the network at the packet level,” McMurry advises, adding that businesses will need to look for an in-line Network Access Control appliance to properly secure their networks with all of the new smart appliances and devices coming to the market.

Read more: Preparing CIOs, CMO For IoT Challenges

However, when it comes to sourcing network security solutions, 53 percent of firms said they prefer to work with a single vendor, rather than add more solutions to their network security program. “[Security leaders] are no longer looking for more point solutions to tack onto their already bloated security infrastructure,” Forrester said. “They seek to simplify integration and management, but only if there is confidence that the vendor will deliver results.”

Toward this end, analysts see managed security service providers (MSSPs) are also set for attention in 2015, according to the report, with MSSPs, which will show signs of maturity in the coming months, making a services approach an increasingly attractive option.