The Internet of Things (IoT) has been weaving itself into the fabric of everyday life for some time now, including everything from connected cars to smart home applications, such as lighting and security systems, smart grids, smart meters and more. According to recent research by Gartner, there are more than 2.5 billion connected devices today, and by 2020, there will be more than 30 billion.
With more devices requiring secure communications between not just end users, but other devices, enterprises need to start preparing for every device to become a potential attack vector. Hackers are already exploiting holes in the security of TVs, DVRs, printers and even baby monitors. What happens when they can open a door lock, remotely control a car or even stop a pacemaker?
VPNs offer a solution to protect IoT endpoints and management systems from attacks and manipulation. Although VPNs are most often thought of as a technology to secure communications with corporate networks and the Internet, they can just as easily be implemented within devices to support machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and more innovative forms of connectivity. With a VPN, end devices communicate through a secure encrypted tunnel, so any hackers that are snooping on the data transmission, regardless of the medium, will only see a stream of gibberish.
Many upcoming connected cars, for example, will come equipped with LTE routers supporting up to eight end devices. If a hacker gained access to the data network of a vehicle, it would leave the door wide open for them to work their way to the car’s electronics system and take complete control of it, as well as access any corporate network that vehicle is connected to. By implementing a VPN, a car’s electronics system would be able to safely communicate with any devices on its local network, and outsiders would not be able to gain access. All of the data within a car, and the passengers inside of it, will be protected.
Every device, no matter how seemingly innocuous, could soon be a risk to an organization. By securing and encrypting IoT wireless data transmission, enterprises can gain much needed security without compromising the flexibility that makes the technology so attractive.
Joerg Hirschmann has been employed at NCP engineering GmbH in Nuremberg, Germany, since 1994. His fields of activity have been support, consulting, system engineering and training. In 2001 he became technical director. His technical knowledge and his practice-related expertise are highly valued by customers and sales partners.