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Security challenges in IoT and how to tackle them: Interview with Steven Van Hoof, the VP of Engineering at Sensolus

While the benefits of IoT are numerous, it comes with certain security challenges. By 2029, Gartner expects more than 15 billion connected IoT devices within the enterprise infrastructure. As the number of connected devices and cloud networks multiplies, so do data breaches or ransomware attacks.

We sat down with Steven van Hoof, the VP of Engineering at Sensolus, to talk about the security risks in IoT. Security is key in IoT. Our customers care about data privacy. They must protect sensitive information, such as info about suppliers, where products are made, their transfer routes, conditions, etc. These business-critical details should be kept safe internally because if the information leaks then competitors can easily take advantage of it,” begins Steven.

The most common data security threats

Today many IoT solutions, both in consumer and business contexts, have limited security in place. “The most common example is in our homes. How many people have their home routers with weak passwords, which can easily be hacked?” says Steven.

Accuracy and authenticity are crucial when it comes to data. “Many companies aim to make business decisions based on relevant and precise data. However, if that data is not safeguarded and controlled, the entire business is at risk. If you cannot trust your data, the entire structure starts to crumble. The expected returns will drop off and operational processes can come to a standstill,” explains Steven.

There is also a security gap between device production and user application. Manufacturers often integrate basic (or none at all) settings into IoT devices, leaving them exposed and vulnerable. Often it’s up to users to properly secure devices during the deployment, creating additional risks as the devices rarely get configured properly. “The challenge with IoT is that you cannot easily reach or change the settings of assets once they’re in the field. If you don’t set up a security system from the start, it will be very difficult to solve the security issues on the go,” says Steven.

The security issues become even more complex as users encounter other challenges, such as the complexity of the ecosystem, including diverse, dynamic, and independent devices meshed in-between communication protocols, interfaces, and people.

The human aspect: Creating awareness is crucial

We can all agree digitalization revolutionized almost every aspect of people’s lives in recent decades. However, together with its benefits it also brings major security drawbacks.

The more complex an environment, the more likely it is that IT administrators lack visibility, access, and control over one or more of its components. Often, they also struggle with setting up and managing basic tasks, such as changing default passwords, inventory of hardware and software components within the company network, or updating applications regularly. “Ultimately, the weakest link is the human factor,” shares Steven.

The answer to this challenge is simple but not easy. A successful security system begins with the right mindset of the employees within the organization. “The education and training are essential. Companies should implement all best practices, like multi-factor authentication, safe storage, and encrypted information. Still, it’s up to employees to use the security guidelines, be aware of the possible risks, and how to avoid them,” explains Steven.

steven van hoof
Steven is a software engineer specialized in agile projects in international environments.

Data security is a significant challenge for all IoT ecosystems – regardless of the organization’s size. “The risk is proportional. Smaller companies rely on common sense to do the right thing without necessarily having elaborate architecture. Larger companies usually organize regular training sessions. There are multiple ways to achieve the same goal, but creating awareness is imperative,” adds Steven.

Like ripples in water, even a minor leak can cause further damages to the company, like poor brand reputation and loss of trustworthiness. Due to the increased publicization of data leaks and ransomware attacks, businesses are taking significant steps to improve security measures. “People are more aware of risks. Businesses don’t want to end up in newspapers because of the data leak. It creates an immediate bad reputation on top of the financial damages and other downfalls,” says Steven.

Overcoming security risks with connected asset management

One of the solutions to keep your data secure lies in the connected asset management system. By implementing it, you can manage devices, control access, and safely transport data from the field to the cloud over the public Internet.

With Sensolus, all your data is encrypted in a shared cloud platform through a software-as-a-service model. With our platform, you can manage user levels and visibility options. We also support customers when it comes to setting up internal procedures. Additionally, the asset tracking system is an excellent compliance tool because it helps you ensure that contracts are respected and handovers are transparent.

And what about hardware security? Each of our trackers has a unique key, so we can extract that key and block the compromised tracker even if someone manages to compromise the hardware.

“More and more companies are investing in connected asset management, as it provides a high level of data control and safety. Businesses are aware of how important it is to connect their data and use it as a tool to grow. It’s amazing to see this evolution,” says Steven.

If there’s one piece of advice to take with you, that would be to “build any business with security foundations from day one.” “Make sure you understand the security architecture and build strong foundations,” concludes Steven.

In business, making the right decisions can make or break your organization. Gathering, analyzing, and securing your data should be on top of your priority list. By investing in hardware trackers with built-in unique keys, you can easily manage and control them individually through our application platform. This way, you have a reliable and scalable system that will safeguard the most valuable business asset: your data.

Want to know more about how you can set up a secure and reliable IoT environment? Request your personalized demo!