September 4, 2022

Increasing Enterprise IoT Security with Identity and Access Management (IAM) Solutions

Internet of things (IoT) application and rollout has been rapid, disrupting and streamlining processes in a variety of industries, However, it has created a situation where “today’s IoT security is lightweight compared to enterprise application security” [Link: https://www.hypr.com/security-encyclopedia/iot-authentication], creating a need for IoT security solutions than many of the insufficient and fragmented options.  

IoT devices rely on sharing data over networks, so the importance of securing these connections is vital in enterprises to comply with data security measures and protect from malicious actors. Managing authorization of these devices through identity and access management (IAM) platforms has become a key piece of the IoT security puzzle, which will become integral to IoT solutions. 

But what exactly is IAM and how does it work? Read on to learn more about the application of IAM systems and the importance for IoT security.  

How Does Device Authentication Work? 

Device authentication is the process of defining identities for devices within the IoT infrastructure, whilst authorization provides privilege levels and access. A combined approach of identifying each device within the ecosystem and authorising access to only necessary data, ensures a high-level of protection against unauthorised attempts to target and exploit specific devices in the ecosystem.  

According to Gartner, “Most IoT device manufacturers and platform providers are ill-equipped to serve the authentication needs”. Therefore, devices need to be authenticated through third-party centralised applications, which manage the authentication and identification of devices in complex enterprise IoT ecosystems.  

But what does identifying a device mean? In its simplest terms, it involves linking a device with a unique ID which is linked to a public key infrastructure (PKI) certificate to ensure security. Once the device identity is assigned its ability to access and share data in the network can be monitored and access management can be controlled.  

Assigning Digital Identities: Public Key Infrastructure 

Typically, organisations use PKI (public key infrastructure) to assign devices certificates which verify their identities. Each device is provided a cryptographic key which ensures its unique identity. This is a two-way system comprised of a public and private key component.  

Employing PKI systems ensures that larger and more complex IoT ecosystems can be securely managed, and data can be secured and encrypted within the network. These trusted root certificates are chained ensuring the identity and authenticity of each device.  

Importance of Authorisation for Enterprise IoT Security 

Similar to how human users in an enterprise would be assigned identifiable logins and access levels, the authorization process in IoT is used to validate the identity of devices as endpoints in the IoT system.  

Confidentiality of information is essential in many different industries, such as healthcare and online banking. Therefore, to both protect this information and comply with data security standards organisations must ensure devices they have are properly secured. This is where authorization and security credentials become vital.  

The devices themselves often lack the computational power to run complex security programs, as they are typically designed to perform a limited number of functional tasks.  

IoT devices typically have limited memory, so it is not normally possible to store the certificates on them. Often, security credentials are stored in unsecure locations on the IoT device.” [https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9606833 

Therefore, monitoring the IoT infrastructure as an environment becomes the only way to ensure that devices aren’t compromised, or further data leaks occur. There are several different levels of authentication, for different use cases:  

  • One-way Authentication: In the case of two devices communicating, one is authenticated whilst the other is not. This can be used for devices which have low-value data.  
  • Two-way Authentication: This is where two devices communicating are both authenticating each other to ensure a higher level of security. Recommended for high-value data in low-complexity systems.  
  • Three-way Authentication: This is where a centralised system authenticates both devices. This is recommended for most use cases, where security is vital and complexity needs to be reduced.  

‘IoT Authentication Types’ Source: TechTarget 

Implementing IAM In Your Organization 

Incorporating IAM platforms within your IoT deployment both simplifies and enhances your IoT security. But to effectively implement IAM requires organization level buy-in to ensure the security of IoT devices and by account the entire enterprise security protocols.  

To efficiently employ identity and access management, the administrator must register and assign an identity to each new device. The device can then be validated when it connects and shares data. Lifecycle management of devices becomes fundamental to maintaining the IAM system, so long-term buy-in and a roadmap to implementation is key to maintaining good IoT security practices. 

Devices can then be managed through a centralised platform, such as Device Authority’s KeyScaler platform [https://www.deviceauthority.com/platform/]. Platforms such as these help you simplify your IoT security processes with an all-in-one solution, increase efficiency with security automation, and protect your devices against cyber-attacks.

Click Here to learn how you can implement IAM with Device Authority’s KeyScaler platform.  

WRITTEN BY
Louise José