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6 ways the Internet of Things will transform enterprise security

Jaikumar Vijayan | April 8, 2014
Most enterprise security organizations are unlikely to have a spamming refrigerator on top of their list of things to worry about. But news earlier this year that an Internet-connected fridge was co-opted into a botnet that sent spam to tens of thousands of Internet users is sure to have piqued the interest of at least a few.

Companies that have experience managing complex technology integrations will be the ones most likely to succeed in an IoT environment, he said. More often than not, traditional IT and security vendors are well behind the curve in understanding how the IoT trend will affect corporate IT, he said.

"The challenge for existing suppliers is that they tend to have a narrower focus and will take time to build the partnerships and in-house skills or acquisitions to compete," with the systems integrators, Yapp predicted.

6. The IoT will exacerbate the volume, stealth and persistence of online attacks

In theory at least, the threats posed by a completely interconnected world are not very different from the threats faced by most IT organizations today. Many companies are already intimately familiar with the challenges posed by smartphones, tablets and other wireless-enabled devices. What is different with the IoT is the sheer scale and scope of the challenge.

"The IoT includes every device that is connected to the Internet," said Kevin Epstein, vice president of advanced security and Proofpoint, a security-as-a-service vendor in Sunnyvale, Calif.

That includes everything from home automation products including smart thermostats, security cameras, refrigerators, microwaves, home entertainment devices like TVs, gaming consoles to industrial control machinery and smart retail shelves that know when they need replenishing.

Dealing with the sheer scale of the problem could be a huge challenge for IT organizations.

"The challenges are around volume, stealth and persistence of attacks," Epstein said. Even with current campaigns, attackers are able to relatively easily penetrate enterprise defenses, Epstein said. "Now imagine the volume of attacks increased by [ten-fold]... and no one could turn off the sending devices."


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