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Data Security for IoT Devices with PKI [Encryption Digest #66]

Data Security for IoT Devices with PKI [Encryption Digest #66]

September 17, 2021 | Alexa Hernandez

Did you know that the number of active IoT-enabled devices has grown from 3.6 billion in 2015 to 11.7 billion in 2020? This trend touched just about every industry, from industrial and automotive to energy and healthcare. As the use of these devices grows, so too does the threat landscape. Cyberattacks involving IoT devices are also rapidly increasing, with a staggering 75% of IoT devices not utilizing encryption when transmitting data!

When it comes to providing security and trust, the acceptable standard of internet security, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), utilizes encryption to verify digital signatures. This authentication and protection of IoT machine identities will become increasingly more important as the use of IoT devices grow. One report estimates by 2025 the number of active IoT device connections will reach 30 billion.

While weak or no PKI can represent a major cybersecurity risk, there are ways you can implement PKI to issue certificate based identities that secure your IoT devices with strong authentication.   

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How to Make Your IoT Devices Secure-by-Design

First, iIt is important to familiarize yourself with the top vulnerabilities that make IoT devices insecure. For example, easily guessable passwords or outdated components and the low hanging fruit cybercriminals look to exploit. Another common issue is lack of device management. IoT ecosystems can involve many devices, all of which require careful management throughout their entire lifecycle. Neglecting to manage your IoT device machine identities can lead to unauthorized parties slipping in unnoticed, especially if your authorized devices are not properly inventoried.

Another strategy to protect your IoT devices is to use end-to-end encryption (E2EE), a communication transfer that encrypts the data in a way that no third parties can access it. Only the sender and the receiver can encrypt and decrypt the data, ensuring that if any “eavesdroppers” that manage to access the communications, they wouldn’t be able to read it.

Protecting IoT Devices With PKI

1. Choose unique identities.

Creating a strong password is the most foolproof way to secure your IoT devices. Embedding a verifiable machine identity on your device ensures that it will be securely accessed by only authorized parties through its lifecycle.

2. Define and enforce security standards

PKI open standards allow for flexible options in how security standards are set, including the trusted root standard protocols, the revocation and deployment of certificates, and enrollments. The IoT encryption algorithm trusted by all major organizations and governments is the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).

3. Leave a minimal device footprint

MPKI allows manufacturers can use PKI to implement safeguards with minimal footprints on devices. Plus, devices that have low power computational and memory can use asymmetric cryptography, a process that uses one public key and one private key to encrypt a message from unauthorized access.

4. Build scalable security

Asymmetric encryption means that all certificates issued come from a single trusted certificate authority that is tightly controlled tightly. This type of all-in-one solution makes the organization and protection of your IoT machine identities far more manageable, especially when you embrace automation solutions to handle the heavy lifting.

Is your PKI ready for IoT?


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About the author

Alexa Hernandez
Alexa Hernandez

Alexa is the Web Marketing Specialist at Venafi.

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