IoT Device Security Issues + What is IoT PKI?

Overview

The Internet of Things (IoT) has developed and is continuing to evolve. The Internet of Things (IoT) is already well-established in a number of industries, including factories, smart cities, retail, healthcare, and a variety of other sectors. By enabling connectivity of devices, services, and systems that go far beyond conventional machine-to-machine (M2M) capabilities, the Internet of Things provides a unique opportunity to deliver compelling benefits across numerous sectors. On the other hand, establishing trust and security is critical to ensuring that IoT innovation offers the services that people and organizations expect.

IoT solutions rely on working with fundamentally secure systems and data. That means maintaining confidentiality, availability, and integrity is critical. For example, access to information should be limited to those who are authorized to access it in order to keep data private. In addition, transmitted data should be encrypted to prevent any unauthorized.

Need for IoT Security

Security breaches in IoT devices can occur at any time, including manufacturing, network deployment, and software updates. These vulnerabilities provide entry points for hackers to introduce malware into the IoT device and corrupt it. In addition, because all the devices are connected to the internet for example: through Wi-Fi, a flaw in one device might compromise the entire network, leading other devices to malfunction.

Some key requirement for IoT security are:

  • Device security like device authentication through digital certificates and signatures.
  • Data security, including device authentication and data confidentiality and integrity.
  • To comply with regulatory requirements and requests to ensure that IoT devices meet the regulations set up by the industry within which they are used.

Role of PKI in IoT Security

Devices are the most frequent Internet users, and they require digital IDs to operate safely. In addition, the rapid evolution of IoT technology is boosting demand for internet of things public key infrastructure (IoT PKI) as businesses seek to adapt their business models to stay competitive and secure.

PKI has long been a significant Internet security standard, with all of the characteristics required to provide the high degree of trust and security demanded by today’s IoT deployments. It provides robust and well-proven security through encryption and authentication, as well as digital signatures to validate data integrity. PKI is also a dynamic security approach designed to handle a variety of IoT use cases. Organizations can use PKI to ensure that users, systems, and devices are securely authenticated and secure data both in-transit and at-rest.

The public key infrastructure (PKI) is a set of hardware, software, policies, and procedures for creating, managing, distributing, and updating digital certificates over time. PKI is considered the backbone of Internet security for decades, and it’s now evolving as a flexible and scalable solution capable of fulfilling the data and device security needs of the Internet of Things.

End-user adoption and productivity are boosted when friction is reduced, and PKI provides an intuitive experience that includes mutual authentication, encryption of sensitive data, and data integrity assurance. In addition, it allows for flexible deployment in a variety of environments and is scalable.

PKI eliminates the need for passwords and complex authorization checks. Devices need to share their public keys and can begin exchanging data. Digital certificates provide a secure environment for IoT devices to operate, minimizing data leakage and hacking risks with point-to-point encryption and flawless authentication. They also validate software upgrades, making it difficult for hackers to get access to the network. PKI is a key component of TLS (Transport Layer Security), and incorporating it into IoT could provide much-needed consistency.

How to Use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to Protect IoT Devices

  • Assign Unique identity to each IoT device: You can enable secure network access and code execution throughout the device lifecycle by integrating a cryptographically verifiable unique identity into each device. These identities, i.e., digital certificates, can also be altered based on manufacturer policy.
  • Define and Enforce Security Standards: The open standard for PKI enables the organizations to define a system cryptographically with various options for trusted root CAs, revocation, and standard protocols for enrollment and deployment of certificates like- Simple Certificate Enrollment Protocol (SCEP), Automated Certificate Management Environment (ACME), etc.
  • Scalable Security: Asymmetric encryption allows to issue certificates from a single trusted Certificate Authority (CA). This disconnected verification architecture eliminates the requirement for a centralized server or agent-based software to authenticate devices and applications.
  • Maintain a High Level of Security: Digital certificates issued by a well-managed PKI provide significantly more security than conventional authentication techniques. In addition, secure hardware elements for cryptographic key storage can also be used in IoT devices, with validity periods that significantly exceed passwords or tokens’ practical lifetime.
  • Securing with a minimal Footprint: As devices with low memory and processing power have the ability to use asymmetric keys, PKI enables manufacturers to secure IoT devices with a minimal footprint. Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) is considered ideal for sensor and network devices using smaller size keys.

IoT Security Challenges

  • Malware and Ransomware: The number of malware and ransomware used to exploit IoT-connected devices continue to rise in the coming years as the number of connected devices grows. While classic ransomware uses encryption to lock users out of various devices and platforms entirely, hybridization of malware and ransomware strains is on the rise to integrate various attacks. The ransomware attacks could be aimed at reducing or disabling device functioning while also stealing user data. For example, A simple IP (Internet Protocol) camera can collect sensitive information from your house, office, etc.
  • Data Security and Privacy: Data privacy and security are the most critical issues in today’s interconnected world. Large organizations use various IoT devices, such as smart TVs, IP cameras, speakers, lighting systems, printers, etc., to constantly capture, send, store, and process data. All the user data is often shared or even sold to numerous companies, violating privacy and data security rights and creating public distrust.
    Before storing and disassociating IoT data payloads from information that might be used to identify users personally, the organization needs to establish dedicated compliance and privacy guidelines that redact and anonymize sensitive data. Data that has been cached but is no longer needed should be safely disposed of. If the data is saved, the most challenging part will be complying with various legal and regulatory structures. Mobile, web, cloud apps, and other services used to access, manage, and process data associated with IoT devices should comply with the guidelines.
  • Brute Force Attacks: According to government reports, manufacturers should avoid selling IoT devices with default credentials, as they use “admin” as a username and password. However, these are only guidelines at this point, and there are no legal penalties in place to force manufacturers to stop using this risky approach. In addition, almost all IoT devices are vulnerable to password hacking and brute-forcing because of weak credentials and login details. And due to the same reason, Mirai malware was successful in detecting vulnerable IoT devices and compromised them using default usernames and passwords.
  • Skill Gap: Nowadays, organizations are facing a significant IoT skills gap that is stopping them from fully utilizing the new prospects. As it is not always possible to hire a new team, it is necessary to set up training and upskilling programs. Adequate training workshops and hands-on activities should be set up to hack a specific smart gadget. The more knowledge your team members have in IoT, the more productive and secured your IoT will be.
  • Lack of Updates and Weak Update Mechanism: IoT products designed with connectivity and ease of use in mind. They may be secure when purchased, but they become vulnerable when hackers find new security flaws or vulnerabilities. In addition, IoT devices become vulnerable over time if they are not fixed with regular updates.

Best Practices for IoT Device Security

Following are some best practices that the manufacturer team should follow to secure IoT Devices.

  • Assign Unique Credentials to Each Device: IoT devices must be capable of sending encrypted data so that both users and manufacturers can trust that the data they receive is authentic and intended for them. This can be achieved by providing unique credentials to each IoT device in the form of digital certificates that helps in improving authentication and provides more security over today’s common practice of using default passwords or sharing keys in the case of symmetric cryptography.
  • Private Keys Protection: Asymmetric cryptography will be required to generate a unique digital certificate for each IoT device. Asymmetric cryptography generates public and private key pairs, so manufacturers must take additional security while storing private keys. Private keys can be securely stored in Hardware Security Module (HSM), which is FIPS 140-2 Level 3 compliant.
  • Verify Updated through Code Signing: Manufacturers should validate the authenticity of new firmware or software before installing it. So that if a hacker integrates any malicious script in the software update, it can be detected. To do so, manufacturers should use a digital signature, achieved using public and private key pair. When the developers sign their code with a private key, it can be verified with the public key that the update is not modified or tampered when transit and is sent from the authorized manufacturer. Learn more about code signing.
  • Establish Root of Trust (RoT): There should be an organization-specific Root of Trust (RoT). RoT helps in initial identity authentication while issuing new keys or digital certificates. RoT contains key and provides manufacturers complete control over identity verification to whom they issue an encryption key.
  • Lifecycle Management of Keys, Certificates, and RoT: All the above best practices require continuous lifecycle management. Without adequate lifecycle management, the digital certificates, key pairs, and RoT in use would weaken over time. There should be a mapping of everything in use so that there will nothing extra created. There should be continuous monitoring of keys, certificates, and RoT to find and fix any vulnerabilities. Update keys, digital certificates, and RoT if required to maintain the health of the security.

How Encryption Consulting's Managed PKI's can secure IoT

Encryption Consulting LLC (EC) will completely offload the Public Key Infrastructure environment, which means EC will take care of building the PKI infrastructure to lead and manage the PKI environment (on-premises, PKI in the cloud, cloud-based hybrid PKI infrastructure) of your organization.

Encryption Consulting will deploy and support your PKI using a fully developed and tested set of procedures and audited processes. Admin rights to your Active Directory will not be required, and control over your PKI and its associated business processes will always remain with you. Furthermore, for security reasons, the CA keys will be held in FIPS 140-2 Level 3 HSMs hosted either in your secure datacentre or in our Encryption Consulting datacentre in Dallas, Texas.