#Technology#IoT#Cybersecurity#Digital Transformation

Enterprise IoT: Pushing security to the edge

Kirk Wolfe
|Nov 29|magazine14 min read

Kirk Wolfe, VP of Corporate Development, Kollective, discusses cybersecurity solutions.

The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is becoming increasingly prevalent in the workplace. It seems that the corporate world is finally waking up to the possibilities of ‘wearables’, intelligent lighting systems, smart fridges and beyond.

In fact, telecommunications company Ericsson reports that there will be as many as 18 billion IoT devices globally by 2022. This staggering statistic illustrates the sheer number of devices that will be added to enterprise networks over the coming years.

There are many benefits that businesses will gain from fully realising the IoT’s potential — including reduced operating costs, improved productivity and enhanced efficiency.

However, with the network’s edge expanding this rapidly, regularly delivering essential updates could prove an almost impossible obstacle for IT teams to overcome. This could have huge consequences when it comes to keeping enterprise networks safe and secure when entering the IoT era.

Security challenges

A full two-thirds (66%) of IT teams view edge computing as a threat to their business operations, according to research from Kollective.

It’s obvious that the growing prominence of the IoT within enterprises has significantly raised the number of entry points for cybercriminals. Add to that the increase of employees bringing their own apps and devices onto business networks.

All of this brings a whole host of challenges for IT teams, from data leaking from an unsecured device to a malicious app being installed on a company smartphone. Making sure these devices are updated with the latest security patches will be vital in counteracting any threats moving forward.

Distributing these updates may prove difficult, however, with 90% of businesses saying that IT departments should test all updates before they are installed. This will require a considerable amount of resources in order to test, distribute and maintain a steady cadence of updates.

Currently, businesses can almost guarantee that all their computers and mobile devices run on a single operating system, Windows 10 for example. This dramatically simplifies the orchestration process of delivering updates.

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Unfortunately for IT departments, IoT devices often run customized or open source operating systems that lack the security update functionality that comes as standard with the major players such as Microsoft and Google.

When you consider that 88% of IT leaders believe it’s the IT team’s responsibility to update IoT devices, you begin to see the scope of the challenge facing organizations in the future.

Additionally, there are regulatory concerns that are stalling the adoption of enterprise IoT. Almost a third of IT leaders (31%) believe there is a lack of clear rules. Despite regulations already being in place in both the US and UK, organizations don’t understand how they work in practice.

Laws, such as the European Union’s ‘Cybersecurity Act’, have been put in place to ensure more stringent checks and balances are introduced as we move into an era of increased interconnectivity. GDPR, for example, is ensuring businesses remove or destroy user’s personal data.

These regulations will hopefully push manufacturers to produce devices that are more secure and push end-users to protect themselves effectively by using complex passwords. Education and training, however is required for companies to fully comprehend how to keep up with the evolving regulatory landscape. 

Software solutions

Clearly, there are many obstacles ahead when attempting to keep enterprise networks secure in the age of IoT. But what options do businesses have looking ahead?

Stagnation could be costly, with rival companies taking advantage of the increased efficiencies that IoT and edge computing allows. Getting information and updates to the network edge securely will be vital for organizations to stay competitive.

So, what is the solution to this challenging issue? When Kollective asked IT leaders what could be done to help them deliver security patches to the edge of their networks, 47% said increased investment in software-defined networking infrastructure.

Without putting any additional strain on the network, a Software-Defined Enterprise Content Delivery Network (SD -ECDN) can keep thousands of  devices up-to-date and secure, right to the edge of the network.

Already, many businesses are using an ECDN to distribute critical video messages and software updates to the edge of their network. As such, there’s no reason why — one day in the future — the exact same technology couldn’t be used to distribute security patches for the internet of things.

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