Securing the Emerging Internet of Everything

Increased Vigilance is a Must

Stephen Nardone

As innovative technologies enter the workplace, advanced threats designed to exploit their unknown vulnerabilities seem to arrive almost simultaneously. This has happened with the Internet, email, instant messaging, mobile devices, and other technologies.

The latest emerging target of hackers and malware is the Internet of Everything (IoE), defined as an interconnected Web of people, processes, and physical objects embedded with sensors (the Internet of Things) that transmit data across networks to each other or to (and from) servers for storage and analysis.

Collecting vast amounts of data generated by the IoE offers tremendous opportunities for enterprises. While the IoE data deluge creates storage challenges (which many enterprises meet by deploying scalable cloud models), it also introduces security concerns because many of the devices and sensors transmitting data may be outside of an enterprise’s secure network. If those devices and embedded objects are compromised, there’s a chance they are transmitting data that could be carrying malicious code.

Security Challenges and Where to Start

The IoE introduces complex and always changing connections that can easily bypass endpoint security efforts and other static methods to protect enterprise data. So how does an enterprise secure its network when data is being transmitted from everywhere? More than anything, it requires an entirely new approach to security, one in which security is embedded everywhere within an intelligent network infrastructure rather than solely at certain selected points, such as on a mobile device.

Security everywhere must include several elements. First, it must be pervasive; that is, all attack vectors must be detected, anticipated, and covered. That includes the data center, the cloud, branches, devices, applications, virtual environments and, yes, end-points. The difference between traditional network security – which essentially relies on a collection of disparate and unconnected checkpoints – and the everywhere security needed for the IoE is vast. Everywhere security adds:

  • Broad-based and continuous network visibility
  • The application of analytics to apply correlation and provide context
  • Dynamically applied controls

In essence, “everywhere security” transforms the network into a giant, self-aware, sensor.

Creating a Smarter Security Strategy

Your new security strategy must also be intelligent, which necessitates adaptability and an infrastructure in which all elements are integrated and able to share actionable information about security threats anywhere within the network. Easier said than done, but an important guiding principle to bear in mind as you move forward.

Also, like potential threats, an “everywhere security” strategy is always on. It demands continuous monitoring and protection of every attack vector within a network, even during an attack.

Finally, effective security for the IoE demands an open approach that enables integration with specialized third-party security solutions that can complement and augment data and network protection. This may well be the biggest stumbling block for your organization simply due to its counterintuitive – even paradoxical – nature. But rest assured, working closely with outside vendors to handle your most sensitive data may not only be the best way to battle impending threats with state of the art solutions – it may be the only way.

The Internet of Everything will require enterprise decision makers to rethink business strategies and processes to fully leverage this expanding interconnected world. And with effective security being a big concern, conventional approaches to network security will likely mandate an equally radical and comprehensive shift for many organizations.