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February 2, 2015

Standard security methods ‘won’t keep IoT safe’

Security strategies must be developed to protect against the increasing risk of cybercriminals.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

Neither software nor email security will be enough to protect organisations investing in the Internet of Things (IoT) against future attacks from cybercriminals.

That is according to security firm Palo Alto Networks, which also urged IT and security departments to develop strategies in preparation "for the onslaught of Internet enabled devices".

The IoT, first coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, a project manager at Belkin’s cleantech division, involves connecting everyday objects to the Internet using wireless technology.

Gartner predicts that 25 billion connected devices will be in circulation by the end of the decade, up from 4.9 billion this year.

While Palo Alto believes that such connectivity offers many advantages, from smart homes and manufacturing to wearables and connected cars, it also provides increased exposure to cyber attacks.

"While it will become increasingly important (and common) for most companies to enable Internet-connected devices, a key goal for IT and security departments will remain the safe enablement of the applications that power those devices," said Palo Alto Networks’s senior product marketing manager Joerg Sieber.

"Neither Web nor email security will be able to appropriately protect against future attacks from cybercriminals targeting your organisation through the IoT. Many of these applications will most likely utilise more than Web channels to access data and can easily circumvent web security solutions by utilising uncommon ports."

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He also called on companies to start thinking about security strategies against the risk of cyber attackers targeting the IoT.

He also urged them to consider what IoT devices are likely to be used in their organisation over the next decade; what types of data will these devices access; what types of devices will their employees own or use; how do these devices interact with their corporate network; and how do they currently ensure safe application enablement across all ports.

"The best you currently can do to prepare for the fast approaching army of networked devices is to deploy the best possible application control with a solution monitoring all ports in and out of your network," he added.

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