The term Internet of Things (IoT) has almost been beaten to death at this point, as more and more security integrators, manufacturers and customers take advantage of the ability to increase connectivity between devices (and therefore take on the dangers this introduces).

But the methods by which we interact with the IoT and protect its devices are still catching up, which means security manufacturers must take part in shifting their focus toward safeguarding data, engaging in vulnerability testing of products and incorporating stringent protections at every stage of the product development process. One small leak or breach on a single connected device can potentially cause significant damage across an organization

Who Is Responsible For IoT Security?

One small leak or breach on a single connected device can potentially cause significant damage across an organization, creating a disruption within a company, affecting its assets, employees and customers. The continued question seems to be: Who is ultimately responsible for the security of IoT devices?

In a recent survey from Radware, a provider of application delivery and cybersecurity solutions, there was no clear consensus among security executives when asked this question. Thirty-five percent of respondents placed responsibility on the organization managing the network, 34 percent said the manufacturer and 21 percent chose the consumers using the devices as being primarily responsible. 

Several schools of thought Exist For Each:

  • The Organization

It's not surprising that most people see the organization as the main stakeholder for IoT security responsibility; after all, if a company is managing a network, one would expect it to protect the network as well.
One way that the organization can embrace this responsibility is by adopting a user-centric design with scalability, tactical data storage and access with appropriate identification and security features (for example, the use of multilevel authentication through biometrics in access control).
Organizations must also use their IT team to strengthen the overall cybersecurity of the IoT by keeping up with the latest software updates, following proper data safety protocols and practicing vulnerability testing.

  • The Manufacturer

Manufacturers that provide IoT-enabled devices as part of a security system must be fully knowledgeable of the risks involved and effectively communicate them to the integrator or end user.
Providing the education necessary and dedication to protecting users of its equipment makes a manufacturer more trustworthy and understanding in the eyes of an end user. Ensuring encryption between devices is a key step that manufacturers can take to work toward achieving complete protection in the IoT.

  • The User

Despite the protection delivered by the organization and manufacturer, there's always the option for IoT security to be enhanced or possibly even diminished by the individual user. It's critical that best practices for data protection are in place every time an individual uses a device that is connected to the network.
These include disabling default credentials, proper password etiquette, safe sharing of sensitive information and the instinct to avoid any suspicious activity or requests. Manufacturers that provide IoT-enabled devices as part of a security system must be fully knowledgeable of the risks involved

The short answer to the responsibility question is this: everyone. Each sector has a responsibility to contribute to the protections needed for IoT-enabled devices.

However, as a manufacturer, it is imperative that our teams think about each level of protection when developing products for public consumption, including how the organization implements the technology and how the integrator engages in training with users. 

IoT issues caused by organisations
Organizations must also use their IT team to strengthen the overall cybersecurity of the IoT by keeping up with the latest software updates

Manufacturer Vulnerability Testing

One way that manufacturers can implement added protections against outside threats is by boosting their attention to security protocols in the product development stage. For some, this requires a different approach in the design and development of security systems. Identifying vulnerabilities is at the core of this.

A security vulnerability in a product is a pattern of conditions in the design of a system that is unable to prevent an attack, resulting in weaknesses of the system such as mishandling, deleting, altering or extracting data. Increased connectivity makes these vulnerabilities more of a liability, as IP-enabled (or networked) devices are more likely to be breached by outsiders looking to permeate an organization and collect valuable data. 

A security vulberability in a product is a pattern of conditions in the design of a system that is unable to prevent an attack, resulting in weaknesses of the systemWhile some of these hacks are a little more “simple” in nature — such as outsiders trying to guess a password using manufacturer-set passwords — others are more complex, such as a denial-of-service, where attackers attempt to overload the system by flooding the target with excessive demands and preventing legitimate requests from being carried out. This makes it virtually impossible to stop the attack by blocking a single source.  

As a result of these potential threats — and to help manufacturers deliver best-in-class products — it's imperative that vulnerability testing is done throughout a product's development, starting at phase one in the process.

This includes analysis of the type of cyberattacks that can potentially attach, breach and disable a system. Many manufacturers attempt to hack their own products from within the organization — or even go as far as hiring a third-party professional group to do it for them. 

Success In A Volatile Technology Landscape 

This kind of development puts a product through rigorous levels of testing, and once weaknesses are exposed, they can be patched up and the cycle of attack-and-defense can take place until the product is protected fully and ready for market.

Skipping this step in the development process can open manufacturers up to significant liability, so it's important for this testing to take place and corrective actions be taken to rectify gaps in security. The more extensive an organization's security testing approaches are, the better are its chances of succeeding in an increasingly volatile technology landscape. 

But the testing doesn't stop in the development stage. Attacks on a system continue long after the product has been introduced to market, requiring continued updates to be made available in an effort to protect customers. Manufacturers are tasked with implementing further firmware updates to keep a product in the field readily prepared to revoke the latest critical bugs that can affect the market. 

What End Users Demand From Security

We're seeing a significant shift in the education and demand from a customer perspective. In the past, consumers took the advice of integrators and consultants as far as the “right” security systems to install for their needs. Today, the self-education of end users is on the rise as more and more IT departments become involved in the selection and investment of physical access control systems. We're seeing a significant shift in the education and demand from a customer perspective

A larger number of end users are demanding security products that meet IT standards of network protection, and they take these considerations into account when working with integrator partners on the selection of systems to meet their needs.

As a result, manufacturers are tasked with not only developing robust IoT-centric products, but also continuing to be involved on a regular basis in an effort to continuously keep organizations safe. 

A comprehensive security strategy from manufacturers must involve multiple levels of product selection, testing and integration — centered on the team-based approach to implementing training and protocols within an organization.

While manufacturers are stepping up their game in the development of robust products, this remains a team effort that must be addressed every week — not something you implement, then forget about. The safety of data — and the entire organization — depends on it.

Download PDF version

Author profile

Kim Loy Director of Technology and Communications, Vanderbilt Industries

In case you missed it

Ethical Consumption: Should You Buy Security Products ‘Made In China’?
Ethical Consumption: Should You Buy Security Products ‘Made In China’?

Should ‘Made in China’ be seen as a negative in security systems and products? It’s an important and complex issue that merits a more detailed response than my recent comment in the Expert Panel Roundtable. For me, there are two sides of the answer to this question: Buying products that have certain negative attributes that are not in alignment with some part of a belief system or company mandate. Buying products that do not perform as advertised or do something that is unacceptable. For integrators and end users making the buying decisions, the drive to purchase products may not be based on either aspect and instead on the product that can do the best job for their business. But for others, a greater emphasis on the ethical implications of purchasing decisions drives decision-making. What Is Ethical Consumption? Ethical consumption is a type of consumer activism that is based on the concept of ‘positive buying’ in that ethical products are favoredEthical consumption — often called ethical consumerism — is a type of consumer activism that is based on the concept of ‘positive buying’ in that ethical products are favored, and products that are ethically questionable may be met with a ‘moral boycott’. This can be as simple as only buying organic produce or as complex as boycotting products made in a totalitarian regime that doesn't offer its citizens the same freedoms that we enjoy in the United States. Consider the goals of the Boston Tea Party or the National Consumers League (NCL), which was formed to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. Some examples of considerations behind ethical consumption include fair trade, treatment of workers, genetic modification, locally made and processed goods, union-made products and services, humane animal treatment, and in general, labor issues and manufacturing practices that take these factors into account. Increase In Ethical Consumption The numbers show that ethical consumption is on the rise. In a 2017 study by Unilever, 33 percent of consumers reported choosing to buy and support brands that they believe are doing social or environmental good. In the same study, 53 percent of shoppers in the United Kingdom and 78 percent in the United States said they feel better when they buy products that are ‘sustainably’ produced. There’s clear evidence that products from some Chinese companies suffer from cybersecurity vulnerabilities Though the aforementioned question that sparked this conversation centers around concerns with products made in China, there are many other countries where, for example, governments/dictators are extremely repressive to all or parts of their populations, whose products, such as oil, diamonds, minerals, etc., we happily consume. There are also a number of countries that are a threat in terms of cybersecurity. It may be naive and simplistic to single out Chinese manufacturers. Impact On Physical Security Products Product buying decisions based on factors other than product functionality, quality and price are also starting to permeate the security marketplace. While this hasn't been a large focus area from the business-to-business consumption side, it's something that should be considered for commercial security products for a variety of reasons. Hardware hacks are more difficult to pull off and potentially more devastating" There’s clear evidence that products from some Chinese companies suffer from cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Last fall, 30 U.S. companies, including Apple and Amazon, were potentially compromised when it was discovered that a tiny microchip in the motherboard of servers built in China that weren't a part of the original specification. According to a Bloomberg report, “This attack was something graver than the software-based incidents the world has grown accustomed to seeing. Hardware hacks are more difficult to pull off and potentially more devastating, promising the kind of long-term, stealth access that spy agencies are willing to invest millions of dollars and many years to get.” This, along with many other incidents, are changing the considerations behind purchasing decisions even in the physical security industry. Given that physical security products in general have been lax on cybersecurity, this is a welcome change. Combating Tech-Specific Threats In early January, members of the U.S. Senate introduced bipartisan legislation to help combat tech-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors and ensure U.S. technological supremacy by improving interagency coordination across the U.S. government. The bill creates the Office of Critical Technologies & Security at the White House, an indication that this issue is of critical importance to a number of players across the tech sector. Members of the U.S. Senate introduced bipartisan legislation to help combat tech-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors To address a significant number of concerns around ethical production, there are certifications such as ISO 26000 which provides guidance on social responsibility by addressing accountability, transparency, ethical behavior, respect for stakeholder interests, respect for rule of law, respect for international norms of behavior and respect for human rights. While still emerging within physical security, companies that adhere to these and other standards do exist in the marketplace. Not Buying Products Vulnerable To Cyberattacks It may be counter-productive, even irresponsible, to brand all products from an entire country as unfit for purchasing. Some manufacturers’ products may be ethically questionable, or more vulnerable to cyberattacks than others; so not buying products made by those companies would make sense. The physical security industry might be playing a bit of catch up on this front, but I think we're beginning to see a shift toward this kind of responsible buying behavior.

Adapting servers for IP video surveillance systems: choosing the right solution
Adapting servers for IP video surveillance systems: choosing the right solution

Choosing the right server for a video surveillance application comes down to one question: What does the customer expect from the system? Is it a retail location with two cameras that only needs video stored for 24 hours? Does the system need failover protection? What are the ramifications if a system goes down? Does business have to stop? How fast does the customer need to have access to video? Is it a regulated industry where immediate access is a requirement? How mission-critical is the video system to operations?  Mission Critical Video Surveillance Solutions Such questions can point video system designers to the right technology for an application, and a manufacturer and reseller with a wide product offering ensure that the perfect solution is available and can be shipped quickly. It’s important to remember that this is not a “one size fits all” marketplace. Questions need to be asked on what an appropriate server solution will provide for the customer 1) JBOD - It stands for "just a bunch of disks" and refers to a collection of hard disks that have not been configured to work together. This approach is typical of stand-alone systems such as a retailer who has one or two cameras recording locally at a remote location, and who have a tolerance for occasionally losing video footage.  2) RAID 5/6 is a redundant array of independent disks in which data is stored across all the disks. The configuration provides more redundancy and reliability, better balance of disk usage, and more throughput and performance. RAID 5/6 is a redundant array of independent disks in which data is stored across all the disks 3) SAN or storage area network is a type of centralized storage providing enhanced accessibility to disk arrays. SAN provides high performance but is not as easy to expand. It is also less expensive than NAS systems.  4) NAS or network-attached storage is another type of centralized data storage. NAS systems are networked appliances containing storage drives. Benefits include faster data access, easier administration and simple configuration. NAS systems are easier to expand than SAN but provide less performance. NAS systems fit well in situations where customers have massive storage needs (or expect to in the future.) These are applications with lots of cameras and a need to retain high-frame-rate video for 180 days or longer. Typical uses include sports arenas, large cities, universities, corporate campuses and airports. Immediate Access To Video Highly available systems, such as SAN or NAS, are needed in any regulated industry. For example, in the cannabis grower market, an end user might need immediate access to video to show a compliance regulator. Gaming is another market in which immediate access to video is critical, and, for example, if a video system goes down at a table game, the gaming has to shut down, which is an expensive prospect to the casino. Therefore, reliability is critical. Video’s benefits beyond safety and security can also help to justify the costs of more expensive system Importance Of Video In Risk Mitigation In some instances, video is used primarily to manage risk, for example in litigation (or to avoid litigation) in a slip-and-fall claim or other court action. This is referred to as Loss Prevention. The ability to save thousands of dollars (or millions) by averting an expensive legal verdict can go a long way toward justifying the costs of systems.  Video’s benefits beyond safety and security, such as for marketing and business analytics, can also help to justify the costs of more expensive systems. Identifying The Right Video Server Equipment Offering a variety of choices, and adapting those systems to specific applications, ensures customer satisfaction “A tradeoff of cost and needed functionality is at the center of decisions when buying server systems for video applications,” says Tom Larson, Chief Technology Officer, BCDVideo. “Identifying specifically what the customer needs from the system, and how important it is to meet those needs, points to the right choice in video server equipment. "Various technologies have advantages and some downsides, and it is the customer’s need for those advantages (and tolerance for the downsides) that determines which server equipment is right for the job.” Offering a variety of choices, and adapting those systems to specific applications, ensures customer satisfaction. The systems builder can help integrators analyze the site and project requirements and translate those into the right equipment and networking choices. What does the customer need and how much are they willing to pay for it? The real determination is “how important is the video?”

How Biometrics, Integration And Cloud Tops The List Of Access Control Trends In 2019
How Biometrics, Integration And Cloud Tops The List Of Access Control Trends In 2019

The access control industry tends to be more conservative when it comes to the adoption of new technology and services for end users, but that doesn't mean that 2019 won't provide a significant amount of progress through emerging trends taking shape in the industry. In addition to the increased adoption and acceptance of the cloud, mobile credentials and biometrics are becoming more mainstream, and integrations between manufacturers will take centre stage. Here, we take a look at these and other trends helping to shape the coming year. Cloud-Based Products We're continuing to see a demand by end-user customers for customized responses to certain actions within an access control system For many access control manufacturers, the core of the business is in more traditional products, with a high percentage of installs continuing to be these kinds of projects. However, over the last couple of years, cloud-based products have emerged as a viable option for customers. We've seen more of a willingness for end-user customers to inquire whether this is an option for them, citing ease of use, remote management, cybersecurity and more as part of their foray into this branch of access control. The cloud has established its reputation as being quicker to install, more flexible for customers to access and manage both their access points as well as the video associated with these doors, and placing less pressure on internal (or in some cases, non-existent) IT teams to help set up and manage an access control system. Mobile Credentials Applications We're continuing to see a demand by end-user customers for customized responses to certain actions within an access control system. For example, if there's an alarm set off during the day along a perimeter, the ability to automatically execute a lockdown and simultaneous email or message to everyone within the building alerting them to the issue is critical. The desire for this kind of flexibility within a system is prompting manufacturers to build new simple to use graphical tools into their systems that allow customized action responses that are proportional to the level of alarm. There's a strong desire by many of today's companies to be able to use mobile phones for access control and as such, manufacturers are either developing their own mobile credentials applications or integrating their systems with these kinds of products. Over the last couple of years, cloud-based products have emerged as a viable option for customers Future Of Biometrics As companies start to ask about whether their facilities are safe enough, they're often more willing to consider access control that takes security to a new level, such as the implementation of biometric readers. Biometrics is getting more usage in professional security applications and many customers want to move away from using physical cards for access control. Manufacturers that don't currently have biometric hardware in place are starting to integrate with readers designed to offer this functionality in an effort to meet the demands of customers. The dramatic rise in facial recognition biometrics is something that will likely shape the future of biometrics as costs start to decrease. While the access control industry is highly fragmented, we're seeing a trend toward increased partnerships and open-platform technology that helps end users achieve the kind of comprehensive security that they desire. Video Management Platforms We're seeing a trend toward increased partnerships and open-platform technology that helps end users achieve the kind of comprehensive security that they desire For example, there are a number of access control providers that are providing paths toward full integration with lock manufacturers and vice versa in an effort to meet the needs of clients who may have purchased locks but a high powered access control system to properly manage them. There's also a large shift toward full integration with video management platforms and access control systems to fully integrate the two into a single, user-friendly experience and give end users more control over both. Additionally, manufacturers are looking to provide customers with a single system that meets the needs they have with regards to video, intrusion and access control. Right now, I don't think there's a system that can fully deliver on the promise of being exceptional at all three, so integrations and partnerships remain important to achieve that end goal. Access Control World An increasing number of end users are realising the holes in the current Wiegand protocols that have been in place since the 1980s, along with the large number of ‘off the shelf’ equipment that's now available to allow outsiders access through readers that operate under these protocols. As a result, in the last decade or so, OSDP has come onto the scene and is growing in popularity. One of the most important steps for access control manufacturers in 2019 will be to listen to customers who are concerned with this vulnerability and work toward fully supporting OSDP in an effort to protect these access control systems. It's an exciting time to be a part of the access control world, as we finally see results from all of the hype centred around the cloud, biometrics, mobile credentials, hacking protection and strong partnerships come to fruition. As 2019 begins, look for these trends to grow in popularity and for manufacturers to really listen to the end-user customer they serve and respond in kind.