The massive wave of Internet of Things (IoT) device deployments is well underway, but the effort to secure those devices has barely begun. According to Omdia's most recent "IoT Devices Market Tracker," the global IoT installed base is expected to reach 27.5 billion in 2020, growing to 45.9 billion in 2025.
With that many devices already deployed and even more on the way, there will be a proportionate increase in the size of the overall threat landscape. Many enterprises are eagerly advancing with IoT-related initiatives. However, the inclusion of such technology also introduces substantial risks if it is not implemented securely from the start. Here are five recommendations to help security teams head off IoT cybersecurity challenges.
Recommendation 1: Kill your "connect first, secure later" attitude. When deploying data systems in any environment, security teams are traditionally given three options: fast, secure, and cheap. Unfortunately, reality often forces organizations to choose only two, leaving security out of the equation while cost and convenience remain the bane of data protection efforts for years to come.
Recommendation 2: Share responsibility for security. While endpoint security is essentially the front line for IoT cybersecurity efforts, the responsibility for effective IoT device and data protection has to extend beyond the OEM. As physical device life cycles inevitably eclipse the manufacturer's security maintenance life cycles, organizations must establish their own comprehensive strategies for secure IoT deployment.
Recommendation 3: Solidify partnerships. As the IoT supply chain grows, additional complexity naturally will be introduced. The significant challenges this situation creates demands that effective and robust security partnerships be established and cultivated between various IoT device manufacturers and security solution vendors.
Recommendation 4: Develop IoT security best practices internally. In the absence of cohesive and comprehensive industry legislation and standards, organizations will need to develop and enforce their own best practices for IoT security.
Recommendation 5: Security cannot play catch-up with 5G. The introduction of 5G technology will truly revolutionize the IoT market by unlocking its potential through greater bandwidth, lower latency, increased capacity, reduced costs, and a slew of other benefits. While this will increase device management capabilities from thousands of devices per square mile to millions, poor security practices will increase the threat landscape exponentially.
IoT Demand & COVID-19
As for current market environments, given the coronavirus pandemic, Omdia believes that industrial markets will continue to drive IoT demand, but growth in the communications and medical fields will accelerate. Overall, only a few markets are projected to remain strong amid COVID-19, and IoT security is definitely one of them. Security surrounding IoT deployments in critical infrastructure such as in the commercial and industrial markets is fundamentally essential. Due to government-imposed restrictions and a lack of available cybersecurity personnel, adversaries are likely to target critical infrastructure more aggressively, with fewer resources able to respond to evolving threats.
Additionally, in response to the pandemic, an evolution toward virtualization of the global workforce has also started to emerge. This new reality is likely to stimulate faster deployment and adoption of 5G communication in order to address current requirements, while simultaneously preparing contingencies against future demand. As this technology begins to take shape, 5G will be a primary driver of the overall IoT security market. While communications is currently a smaller vertical than other markets, the growth of that market will outpace and ultimately overshadow its peers.
The growth of IoT cybersecurity within the medical market is second only to long-planned communication developments like 5G. In response to COVID-19, more virtualized health services have been promoted in order to help ease patient treatment demands. Technological developments that can further facilitate remote patient monitoring capabilities, equipment, and telehealth services will help drive greater market investment. As a result, effective IoT security to protect highly sensitive medical equipment and healthcare data is projected to double within the next five years.
For more information from Omdia about the IoT market, check out the following (subscription required): "COVID-19 Market Impact: IoT" (June 2020), "COVID-19's Impact on the Cellular IoT Market" (April 2020) and "IoT Wins and Challenges in the COVID-19 World" (March 2019).
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