Cyber Hygiene: What it Looks Like for IoT Devices

Cyber Hygiene: What it Looks Like for IoT Devices

Understanding an Internet of Things security program takes careful consideration and study. We are pleased to bring you this first online post; others will follow each week, discussing the four core tenets. This is Part 2 of the Four Core Tenets of Any IoT Security Program. The remainder will follow weekly.

For our second pillar about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Pillars of Security, we are going to discuss what cyber hygiene looks like for IoT devices. We’ll dive into the maintenance, care and management of these devices since they are often deployed with a kind of “set it and forget it” mentality and left alone unless they malfunction.

However, to run a good cybersecurity program, we must apply the same principles to IIoT devices as we do to computers or any other network device. IIoT devices need their firmware and software updated regularly, their passwords need to be changed, and scanned for vulnerabilities.

Consider this for just a minute: at home you probably have a router that you purchased or that your internet service provider gave you. When was the last time that you updated the software on that device, the firmware or have you ever changed the default password that came on it? For most people, the answer to that question is that they have never updated the software or firmware on their home router, and they have never changed the default password.

Now I know that a home router isn’t an IIoT device, but it is something relatable for everyone reading this. Many IIoT devices are treated the same, they are deployed and initially configured, but just kind of left to run after that.

I have identified 8 keys to effective cyber hygiene for IIoT devices which are listed below, but I warn you that it is easier said than done.

1. Have a full inventory of all IIoT devices on your network. All cameras, security system components, SCADA devices, sensors, programmable logic controllers, etc. Be sure to include manufacturer information and model numbers, that way if there is a vulnerability announcement you’ll know if it applies to your environment.

2. Hot tip: Consider setting up vulnerability alerts for your IIoT devices, that way whenever there is a vulnerability disclosure, you’ll be the first to know. My favorite is to subscribe to the CISA vulnerability alert bulletins, and you can even customize which alerts you sign up for – that can be done here Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (govdelivery.com).

3. Check for firmware and software updates for these devices on a routine basis

  • Routine basis is a bit of a generic timeline, but it really does depend on the type of device. Typically, IIoT devices only release updates once or twice a year so they don’t need to be updated as often as other devices on your network.

4. Update or change passwords on IIoT devices on a routine basis

  • Routine basis in this case is a generic timeline as well. In my opinion, updating passwords for IIoT devices every 90 days is a bit unrealistic for most organizations. So, figure out something that is manageable.

5. Conduct vulnerability scanning looking for critical vulnerabilities

  • Be careful when conducting vulnerability scans on IIoT devices, especially for the first time because the scans may cause the devices to fail. I recommend testing the devices before deploying them so that you’ll know if they are ok to scan in the future.
  • I also recommend scanning in small segments at a time, that way if devices do fail, it doesn’t knock everything offline.

6. Conduct vendor and device risk assessments when purchasing new IIoT devices

  • Take a close look at the vendor selling the device and see if they have a good reputation for updating their products when vulnerabilities are found.
  • Check to make sure the vendor does some type of code analysis to ensure they are deploying a secure product.
  • Pick a device that has the right settings and protocols for your network.

7. Conduct configuration backups of devices

  • Make sure these backups are stored offsite or in the cloud.

8. Ensure IIoT devices are covered in your Policies and Plans (incident response, change management, config management, patch management, business continuity)

I think the best way to summarize cyber hygiene is to think of it as creating a culture of cybersecurity in your organization. Baking cybersecurity into every physical security, IT, or other function in your business. So just like you shower and brush your teeth on a routine basis (hopefully), consider grooming your IIoT devices on a routine basis. In the next issue we’ll discuss product security.

Join us in the next issue when we cover the last two pillars: Product Security and Proper Configuration.

Featured

  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    7 Ways You Can Secure a High-Traffic Commercial Security Gate  

    Your commercial security gate is one of your most powerful tools to keep thieves off your property. Without a security gate, your commercial perimeter security plan is all for nothing. Read Now

  • Making Safety and Security Intrinsic to School Design

    Public anxieties about school safety are escalating across the country. According to a 2023 Gallup report, 44% of parents fear for their child’s physical safety at school, a 10 percentage-point increase since 2019. Unfortunately, these fears are likely to increase if the incidence of school tragedies continues to mount. As a result, school leaders are now charged with two non-negotiable responsibilities. The first, as always, is to ensure kids have what they need to learn, grow, and thrive. Sadly, their second responsibility is to keep the children in their care safe from threats and physical danger. Read Now

  • The Power of a Layered Approach to Safety

    In a perfect world, every school would have an unlimited budget to help secure their schools. In reality, schools must prioritize what budget they have while navigating the complexities surrounding school security and lockdown. Read Now

  • How a Security System Can Enhance Arena Safety and the Fan Experience

    Ensuring guests have both a memorable experience and a safe one is no small feat for your physical security team. Stadiums, ballparks, arenas, and other large event venues are increasingly leveraging new technologies to transform the fan experience and maintain a high level of security. The goal is to preserve the integrity and excitement of the event while enhancing security and remaining “behind the scenes.” Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

Webinars

New Products

  • EasyGate SPT and SPD

    EasyGate SPT SPD

    Security solutions do not have to be ordinary, let alone unattractive. Having renewed their best-selling speed gates, Cominfo has once again demonstrated their Art of Security philosophy in practice — and confirmed their position as an industry-leading manufacturers of premium speed gates and turnstiles. 3

  • HD2055 Modular Barricade

    Delta Scientific’s electric HD2055 modular shallow foundation barricade is tested to ASTM M50/P1 with negative penetration from the vehicle upon impact. With a shallow foundation of only 24 inches, the HD2055 can be installed without worrying about buried power lines and other below grade obstructions. The modular make-up of the barrier also allows you to cover wider roadways by adding additional modules to the system. The HD2055 boasts an Emergency Fast Operation of 1.5 seconds giving the guard ample time to deploy under a high threat situation. 3

  • ResponderLink

    ResponderLink

    Shooter Detection Systems (SDS), an Alarm.com company and a global leader in gunshot detection solutions, has introduced ResponderLink, a groundbreaking new 911 notification service for gunshot events. ResponderLink completes the circle from detection to 911 notification to first responder awareness, giving law enforcement enhanced situational intelligence they urgently need to save lives. Integrating SDS’s proven gunshot detection system with Noonlight’s SendPolice platform, ResponderLink is the first solution to automatically deliver real-time gunshot detection data to 911 call centers and first responders. When shots are detected, the 911 dispatching center, also known as the Public Safety Answering Point or PSAP, is contacted based on the gunfire location, enabling faster initiation of life-saving emergency protocols. 3