The Internet of Things (IoT) fever has swept across Australia, with tens of thousands of connected ‘things’—whether it is a patient monitor within the healthcare space, smart street lighting systems in public venues, or a surveillance camera monitoring the office — multiple devices and systems are making their way into our lives and workplaces.
In fact, according to ‘The Internet of Things: Today and Tomorrow’ report, by 2019, 77% of organisations in Australia will have some form of IoT in place. But as we try to stay abreast with the onslaught of smart devices, have we seriously considered securing IoT?
Interestingly, despite the widespread uptake of IoT, the concept may be new for many Australian businesses, with Australia lagging behind global IoT adoption.
One reason why Australian businesses are slow to adopt IoT is due to its potential security concerns. Across various industries, such as government, healthcare, manufacturing and retail, there are thousands of devices relying on IoT technology, and each requires a different security protocol.
According to the report, only one in three (32%) Australian businesses completely agree that IoT devices are appropriately secured with the proper security strategy in place. Despite the significant security gains from IoT, security flaws were found across many IoT deployments. The study found that 88% of organisations in Asia Pacific have experienced at least one IoT-related security breach, the highest in the world. Below is a list of the top four industries that have suffered the most IoT-related breaches and how IoT is being used to provide key learnings and insights into the challenges Australian businesses are facing. To have a strong handle on your organisation’s security, you need to be able to see these devices and their connections to be able to effectively protect them.
- Healthcare: 89% have suffered an IoT-related security breach By 2019 it is predicted that 87 percent of healthcare organisations worldwide will have adopted some sort of IoT. Patient monitors and imaging systems are some of the most-used IoT devices in the industry, which are enabling value- added services such as patient tracking and remote operations of devices. While these bring significant benefits to patient wellbeing, security fears cast a looming shadow. When looking at the current state of IoT in the healthcare space, 76 percent of healthcare organisations believe that IoT will transform the healthcare industry, however security will remain a top priority, to reduce the number of security threats. Nearly half of healthcare companies reported malware issues on their devices and 39 percent reported that human error led to an IoT-related security breach.
- Government: 85% have suffered an IoT-related security breach When adding new elements to a city infrastructure, governments must balance new and old technologies. In the case of IoT, it is about walking the tightrope of legacy technology and a sufficiently secure network to create smart cities—and 49 percent of government workers find this a particular challenge.Governments are further lagging in their IoT progress compared to other industries; 35 percent of IT decision makers within government roles claim that leadership has little to no grasp of IoT.
This lack of understanding, combined with limitations of legacy technology within cities and security risks associated with IoT implementation, poses a huge challenge to the wider development of the smart city.
By over coming the key challenges of understanding IoT and security concerns, governments will be able to utilise IoT to save costs, increase equipment and assets utilisation, as well as collaborate more seamlessly across departments.
3. Manufacturing: 82% have suffered an IoT-related security breach
The industrial sector understands the significance of automating the supply chain, and the operational efficiency and healthier profit margins it delivers. Countries such as India and Vietnam are alreadyon the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which will see the rise of smart factories—one that is outfitted with IoT, cloud computing and cyber-physical systems.
To capitalise on this, Australian manufacturers need to secure their network and devices. Of those who experienced an IoT-related security breach, half were malware related whereas 40 percent were due to human error. This gap needs closing, particularly as manufacturers are connecting devices such as chemical sensors and picking systems, to reduce operational risks and maintain operating infrastructure.
4. Retail: 76% have suffered an IoT-related security breach
Over half (56 percent) of retailers who have implemented IoT in their stores are allowing personal mobile devices to access the network in order to enhance the consumer experience. When taking into account the 41 percent of retailers who have already suffered from an IoT-related attack because of malware issues, it is clear they need to find a middle ground between delivering an integrated and seamless shopping experience and protecting their network from any attacks.
By doing so, retailers will be able to increase productivity, expand into new markets and continue to improve customer experience.
TOTAL NETWORK VISIBILITY
Across all of these industries, it is clear that organisations need more information about the devices connected to their network. Network managers require the ability to create policies and permissions around them, so that if a device is compromised, whether by malware or human error, it can be immediately identified and removed from the wider network.
The network must be completely transparent. When analysed and accessed, the information gathered should enable organisations to be more granular in pinpointing and securing devices with different levels of threat, while granting different levels of access to different users.
IoT within businesses in Australia and the growth of its use across all industries is inevitable. With 49 percent of Australian businesses currently utilising IoT experiencing an approximate return of 20-40 per cent ROI, and 15 percent noting the ROI was as high as 60-80 per cent, its important to address these security concerns and start benefitting from IoT today.
Anthony Smith, is General Manager South Pacific, Aruba