When we talk about the integration of security systems, the Internet of Things (IoT) inevitably becomes part of the conversation. You can’t just talk about security integration in isolation to the rest of the online world anymore – it is very much part of the mix.
The challenge, of course, is to achieve this integration whilst maintaining and promoting effective levels of security!
Potential for Attack
Whilst IoT’s strength is incorporating lots of different components, from a security point of view this can easily become the Achilles heel of a network. Having systems or sensors on a broad network of devices automatically presents potential vulnerabilities that need to be secured. Otherwise, they offer a tempting ‘back door’ for intruders or other criminal elements to bypass even the most stringently locked down facility!
Any number of elements could be included in a modern organisation’s IT network. The mind boggles when you start to consider everything from an outside weather station, to the screens that welcome visitors to reception or food refrigerators in a kitchen!
This network mix will inevitably include an array of security devices as well. A CCTV camera, an intruder alarm, an access control system – these are all very common elements in any security mix, but they still need to be designed and built with network security firmly in mind.
End to End Security
Each element in the network needs to be engineered so it prevents hackers from gaining access. Equally, the installation stage is a very important part of this process too. If an installer is adding new systems to the mix, it is all too easy not to change default passwords for example. When this happens, the organisation is already opening itself up to potential vulnerability.
Modern security integration software also presents an opportunity to include all manner of different security systems, including legacy components – such as analogue CCTV cameras for instance. This is undoubtedly a victory for security-user choice and economy, but it needs to be factored in when looking at the suitability of the overall network.
Checking All Potential Vulnerabilities
A well-seasoned hacker will look at a network and examine all the elements included on it. If there is a vulnerability, the chances are that a nefarious individual with the right skills will find it! The metaphor I like to use is: ‘A chain is only as strong as its weakest link’ – which perfectly sums up the potential problems from using a poorly designed or executed network.
All it takes is one element to be lacking a strong password or the right security credentials and the rest of the network (however secure) is compromised. Therefore, it is vital that everyone involved with a network and its security – from the manufacturers, to specifiers, installers, operators and users - understands that there is no room for error.
At the top level, it is vital there are checks in place and that each box has been ticked. This includes examining ongoing operations as well. Security operators and users need to fiercely guard passwords and ensure they are changed regularly, to reduce the likelihood of giving intruders any kind of advantage.
All the Benefits and None of the Drawbacks
It is important to say that nobody should be frightened of IoT technology – there are many benefits to networking systems in terms of flexibility and overall control of a vast array of useful functions. It is simply important to use and secure any network in a way that makes your organisation, and the people that work there, feel safe!