IT Brief Australia logo
Technology news for Australia's largest enterprises
Story image

It’s time to move on from “what is the Internet of Things” discussion if you want to secure it

Thu 13 Oct 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Among Gartner clients we are now beginning to see IoT “definition fatigue” set in as the glitz and excitement surrounding the concept settles into the hard business light of day.

The “discovery” of what a pervasive digital presence does to an industrial, commercial or consumer environment is now clothed in thousands of different examples that leave some people scratching their heads and saying “is that what they call the Internet of Things, or is it something else?”. Let me answer that for you: forget about it.

Labeling something “IoT” for whatever reason isn’t as important as we’re making it out to be. What is important is that you have recognised something is happening that may not be within your currentof experience and therefore may not entirely know how to secure it.

Besides, the IoT term never was useful in getting across its real value to business or personal outcomes, something a good definition does. This pervasive digital presence is there to deliver specific industrial and commercial business outcomes, or to deliver specific social or personal outcomes.

We engage in IoT because we want to “do something” new or better, whether it is to have unprecedented visibility into a process within a physical system that is equipped with a rich sensor network or to be able to remotely make fine-tuned changes to the operation of a machine or device that makes physical things really happen, like autonomous automobiles, power plants or home security systems. One great irony is that the IoT as a concept is not new at all– that was why I said “discovery” above with quotes.

Industrial automation and control engineers were shaking their head and laughing about all of the fuss when IoT broke into our business consciousness and discussions because they’ve done a form of IoT since the steam engine and telegraph. The engineering community as a whole is familiar with IoT concepts and have been for some time.

Commercial and consumer verticals are now using sensors and actuators in large quantities on wireless networks and believe they’ve discovered the Next New Thing when they’ve really just gone Back to the Future.

Gartner’s definition of an IoT device is “the network of dedicated physical objects (things) that contain embedded technology to sense or interact with their internal state or external environment.

The IoT comprises an ecosystem that includes things, communications, applications and data analysis.” Note the word ecosystem. This is key to understanding why obsessing over the definition is not helpful, particularly as a security decision-maker. The ecosystem of IoT has elements that already exist in the form of IT, operational technology (OT) and cyber-physical systems.

This is one reason for some people’s confusion: when you think of IoT and focus on the “thing” or device, you miss the fact that all of the other elements of the ecosystem may be plain old IT, OT or cyber-physical systems.

But don’t be deceived– just because there are familiar elements to secure, it doesn’t always mean they are secured exactly as they were as standalone systems, especially when IoT devices are involved. To give them their due, devices do introduce some wild cards into the security poker deck.

To understand IoT and the role it plays in security, you must focus on the business outcomes of the project or program you’re delivering. Think of these as the “outputs” or reasons why an industrial, business or personal process is performed.

You must truly understand the business reason for the IoT device’s presence. If there is an unusual device and network that helps deliver the outcome, if the data generated or the application written is different from what you are accustomed because of the role this device must play in delivering the outcome, you’ve now begun to understand the IoT ecosystem difference.

From a security perspective, these are examples of concerns the presence of IoT in an initiative raises that may be different from your previous experiences:

  • Type of device: This has been the focus to date for IoT. The nature of the device, its construction, its power needs and processing capacity, whether it can be a trusted execution environment, whether it can have a security agent or hold a key, whether it is tamper-proof– these are all issues to consider;
  • Type of device firmware/software: Assuming there is processing capacity, whether the software follows secure design principles, whether it undergoes testing and certification to some industry standard, its relationship to a gateway (appliance, platform or cloud) are all security issues to be addressed;
  • Type of network: Contrary to popular belief, not every IoT device in the world will use WiFi. They may not even use the Internet Protocol (IP), though most will. Understanding how the device uses the network(s) and for what purpose, what type of network architecture, the nature of segmentation and isolation of multiple networks of IoT elements (device network, gateway network, cloud network, etc.) are all security concerns;
  • Nature of data flow: type, volume, variety, velocity, variability of the data generated by the device and transmitted to the device in addition to the normal considerations of data-at-rest, data-in-motion. IoT data security considerations will often be very dynamic and include data types not normally seen by IT, but OT and cyber-physical — or vice versa;
  • Situational awareness of the elements as a whole: having discovery and visibility capabilities will be crucial, since many of these devices and networks may have different ways of communicating their presence and characteristics. Identifying a device and its associated attributes will be foundational (much as it is today) for security.

There are certainly other concerns, but these are just a few. There is no value any longer in obsessing about what IoT is an isn’t, whether this is an example or that is an example of IoT. It’s not about the device, the network or even the software. It’s about the outcomes the business is trying to achieve. Stay focused on that and you can be more successful in securing IoT for your organisation.

Article by Earl Perkins, Gartner Research VP.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Let’s clear the cloud visibility haze with app awareness
Increasingly, organisations are heading for the cloud, initiating new born-in-the-cloud architectures and migrating existing applications via ‘lift and shift’ or refactoring.
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Story image
Vectra AI
Understanding the weight on security leader’s shoulders, and how to shift it
Millions of dollars of government funding and internal budgets are being funnelled into cybersecurity to build resilience against sophisticated threats, indicating how serious this issue has become.
Story image
More than 40% of banks worried about cloud security - report
Publicis Sapient's new report finds security and the lack of cloud skills and internal understanding of business benefits are big obstacles for banks moving to the cloud.
Story image
Revenue operations is taking centre stage
As the business world continues to evolve, new demands need to be met to keep up with the ever-changing landscape. 
Story image
Telstra enters into new RSP agreement with Opticomm
Telstra has entered into an RSP agreement with Opticomm (A Uniti Group Limited subsidiary) to provide network fibre services to customers.
Story image
Digital Transformation
The impact of COVID-19 on healthcare environments and care delivery
The COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionised the healthcare industry while overcoming staff shortages, social distancing requirements, and lockdowns.
Story image
Digital Transformation
The Huawei APAC conference kicks off with digital transformation
More than 1500 people from across APAC have gathered for the Huawei APAC Digital Innovation Congress to explore the future of digital innovation.
Story image
Remote Working
Australia’s remote workers face connectivity and security issues
SOTI's new report finds better video conferencing technology and improved security measures are top concerns for remote workers in Australia.
Story image
Application Security
What are the DDoS attack trend predictions for 2022?
Mitigation and recovery are vital to ensuring brand reputation remains solid in the face of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and that business growth and innovation can continue.
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image
Story image
Workato unveils enhancements to enterprise automation platform
"The extra layer of protection with EKM, zero-logging, and hourly key rotation gives customers a lot more visibility and control over more sensitive data."
Story image
Legrand unveils Nexpand, a data center cabinet platform
Legrand has unveiled a new data center cabinet platform, Nexpand, to offer the necessary scalability and future-proof architecture for digital transformation.
Story image
9/10 Aussies to stop spending if personal data compromised
"Based on the patterns we are seeing among Australian consumers, it is evident that trust in a brand is exceptionally important."
Story image
Lightspeed launches all-in-one marketing platform in A/NZ
ECommerce provider, Lightspeed has launched a new all-in-one marketing solution, Lightspeed Marketing & Loyalty in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Rubrik Security Cloud marks 'next frontier' in cybersecurity
"The next frontier in cybersecurity pairs the investments in infrastructure security with data security giving companies security from the point of data."
Story image
New vulnerabilities found in Nuspire’s Q1 2022 Threat Report
“Threat actors are quickly adjusting their tactics and these exploits tend to get industry attention, but the threat posed by older and attacks still persists."
Story image
Cybersecurity starts with education
In 2021, 80% of Australian organisations responding to the Sophos State of Ransomware study reported being hit by ransomware. 
Story image
Cloud Security
Aqua Security createa unified scanner for cloud native security
“By integrating more cloud native scanning targets into Trivy, such as Kubernetes, we are simplifying cloud native security."
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
RedShield leverages AWS to scale cybersecurity services
"Working with AWS gives RedShield the ability to mitigate significant application layer DDoS attacks, helping leaders adopt best practices and security architectures."
Story image
New Relic enters multi-year partnership with Microsoft Azure
New Relic has announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to help enterprises accelerate cloud migration and multi-cloud initiatives. 
Story image
Grasping the opportunity to rethink the metrics of a sustainable data centre
A data centre traditionally has two distinct operations teams: the Facility Operations team, and the IT Operations team. Collaboration between them is the key to defining, measuring, and delivering long-term efficiency and sustainability improvements.
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
Story image
Customer experience
Research unveils precarious customer loyalty for retailers
New research has found customers are reassessing established brand loyalties as their priorities and behaviours shift.
Story image
HINDSITE wins Aerospace Xelerated Pitch Challenge with solution to support Boeing
Brisbane-based startup HINDSITE was the winner of the first ever Pitch Challenge organised by Aerospace Xelerated in partnership with Queensland XR Hub. 
Story image
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Apple previews new features for users with disabilities
Apple says new software features that offer users with disabilities new tools for navigation, health and communication, are set to come out later this year.
Story image
Digital Transformation
How to modernise legacy apps without compromising security
At a time when digital transformation has become central to business, even the most important applications come with a ‘use-by’ date.
Story image
Nutanix study reveals financial services sector lagging with multicloud adoption
Nutanix has released new research that reveals the financial services sector is lagging behind when it comes to multicloud adoption.
For every 10PB of storage run on HyperDrive vs. comparable alternatives, an estimated 6,656 tonnes of CO₂ are saved by reduced energy consumption alone over its lifespan. That’s the equivalent of taking nearly 1,500 cars off the road for a year.
Link image
Story image
Cradlepoint expands its Cellular Intelligence capabilities
Cradlepoint has announced additional Cellular Intelligence capabilities with its NetCloud service.
Story image
Infoblox's State of Security Report spotlights Australian remote work hazards
Attackers exploit weak WiFi, remote endpoints, and the cloud, costing 50% of organisations over $1.3 million in breach damages.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
How to ensure ethical deployment of AI implementations
The increase in automation and machine technology such as AI and machine learning has unlocked a whole new level of scale and service to organisations. 
Story image
Could your Excel practices be harming your business?
While Excel has been the de-facto standard for budgeting, planning, and forecasting, is it alone, enough to support organisations in the global marketplace that’s facing rapid changes due to digital transformation?
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
AI-based email security platform Abnormal Security valued at $4B
"A new breed of cybersecurity solutions that leverage AI is required to change the game and stop the rising threat of sophisticated and targeted email attacks."
Story image
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.
Story image
ChildFund launches new campaign to protect children online
ChildFund says WEB Safe & Wise aims to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse online while also empowering them to become digitally savvy. 
Story image
Data and analytics could be key to higher selling prices in APAC
Sisense's latest report has found that almost half of data professionals in APAC think customised data and analytics can create better selling prices for their products.
Story image
Power at the edge: the role of data centers in sustainability
The Singaporean moratorium on new data center projects was recently lifted, with one of the conditions being an increased focus on power efficiency and sustainability.
Story image
Alarming surge in Conti Ransomware Group activity - report
A new report has identified a 7.6 per cent increase in the number of vulnerabilities tied to ransomware in Q1 2022.
Threat actors are exploiting weaknesses in interconnected IT/OT ecosystems. Darktrace illuminates your entire business and takes targeted action to stop emerging attacks.
Link image
Story image
Airwallex launches new bank feed integration with NetSuite
Airwallex has launched a new bank feed integration with NetSuite, developed in partnership with NetSuite solution partner, Onlineone.
Story image
Qualys updates Cloud Platform solution with rapid remediation
The new update is designed to enable organisations to fix asset misconfigurations, patch OS and third-party applications, and deploy custom software.