Cisco exposes the dark side and threat consequences of the IoT boom

BENGALURU: Cisco expects up to 50 billion connected devices to be in play, signaling a critical mass in achieving the promise of the Internet of Things (IoT). Cisco has pledged to take a leading role in securing that promise – and offsetting risk – with the introduction of Cisco IoT Threat Defense.

These broad architectural and services solution segments devices on the network to provide adaptable, extensible protection for organizations at IoT scale. According to Cisco, the first use of IoT Threat Defense is to secure vital services in advanced medical care, power generation and delivery, and automated manufacturing.

Cisco views that the escalation of ransomware and other malware events in the past year reveals that organizations are even more critically exposed, reflecting a long-held concern that “it’s not if but when” a business may fall victim to costly cyberattacks. The Cisco 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report notes that CISOs find attacks can impact operations, reputation, and revenue. At stake is unauthorized access to networks, data and IP loss, and business shutdown.

These issues are compounded for those in manufacturing, with IT and OT challenges in how businesses securely connect devices, protect plant operations, and maintain functionality and uptime. While many device manufacturers are building in cybersecurity, implementation can take years. The logical move is to segment these devices to put them out of attackers’ reach. If devices are compromised, organizations can prevent them from being used as pivot points to move through the network, and to activate incident response processes to protect the business.

Cisco says that organizations face two major hurdles in securing the IoT. First, most IoT devices can’t protect themselves. The resulting vulnerabilities create ample opportunities for attackers to exploit those devices and gain network access. The second complicating factor is scale, as businesses will be expected to connect billions of devices in the next few years.

Network segmentation is not new. Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs) have been in use for decades. But the sheer scale of the IoT makes creating enough VLANs impractical, if not impossible.

Cisco indicates that it has led the market in designing, deploying, and securing networks for over 25 years. It continues to build the equipment, invent the technologies, and develop the standards that help make the Internet possible. Cisco has also indicated that the company has invented TrustSec, an extensible, automated, policy-based technology to solve problems of secure segmentation at scale for the IoT.

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