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Why IoT and Endpoint Security Need to Go Granular

Microsegmentation offers some clear benefits for organizations looking to protect endpoints and the IoT

There’s a growing and justified concern for organizations and individuals: the proliferating Internet of Things (IoT) and the countless endpoints these devices create. With an expected 75 billion IoT devices to be in use by 2025 [Statistica], ensuring these devices are secure is already paramount. Devices created in 2019, with a life expectancy of only five years, now have a slew of vulnerabilities that manufacturers could never have foreseen during production. That’s where device microsegmentation comes in, offering a promising solution to the many security challenges posed by IoT and endpoints.

Understanding the Terrain: IoT and Endpoints

IoT devices range from smart refrigerators and thermostats to intricate manufacturing equipment and life-saving medical devices. Their primary purpose is to collect and exchange data, making our lives more convenient and businesses more efficient. However, every IoT device introduced into a network represents a potential entry point – or endpoint – for cyber attackers.

Endpoints are any devices that connect to the network. Traditional endpoints included computers and mobile phones. Today, with IoT, this category has expanded dramatically, incorporating anything from wearable health monitors to connected coffee percolators.

The Challenge: IoT Security Complexities

The sheer number and diversity of IoT devices bring about a few challenges:

  • Scale: With billions of devices connecting, traditional security methods, such as perimeter defense, are obsolete. It’s no longer about securing the border of a network; it’s about securing the countless nodes within it.
  • Diversity: Different devices have different operating systems, software, and security capabilities. Some might be easily updated and patched, while many others lack these capabilities entirely.
  • Visibility: With more devices connecting to the network, maintaining visibility over each device has become a massive task that is out of the sight and scope of many IT security teams.
  • Evolving Threats: Attackers are developing new methods and techniques to exploit vulnerabilities in IoT devices, daily. A security approach that’s reactive – rather than proactive – is doomed to fail.

Enter Microsegmentation

Microsegmentation is a security technique that divides a network into multiple isolated (granular) segments. Rather than allowing every device on a network to communicate freely with each other, microsegmentation allows organizations to define granular policies, specifying which devices can communicate with which others.

Granular defense policies refer to security measures that are detailed, specific, and fine-tuned to individual needs, rather than being broad or generalized. Here are just a few of the reasons why this granular microsegmentation approach is becoming default best practices for IoT and endpoint security:

  1. Precision in Protection: Granular defense policies target specific vulnerabilities or threats. This ensures that protection matches the unique challenges and needs of a system or data set.
  2. Flexibility: Granularity through microsegmentation allows for the flexibility to apply different security measures to different devices or parts of an environment based on risk. High-risk areas can be more tightly controlled, while lower-risk areas might have more lenient controls.
  3. Efficient Resource Allocation: Broad defense measures can be resource-intensive, possibly slowing down system performance. With granular controls, through microsegmentation, resources can be effectively allocated only where they are most needed, avoiding unnecessary system lags.
  4. Minimized Disruptions: Generalized policies might block or disrupt legitimate activities because they cannot differentiate between nuanced actions. Microsegmentation allows for refined control, minimizing disruptions to legitimate users while effectively keeping out malicious ones.
  5. Improved Visibility and Monitoring: Granular policies often come with detailed logging and monitoring capabilities. This means that administrators can gain better insights into the behavior of users and systems, making it easier to identify unusual or malicious activities.
  6. Facilitates Compliance: Many regulatory frameworks require detailed control and reporting on data access and processing. Granular defense mechanisms help organizations meet these requirements more effectively.
  7. Lowers Attack Surface: By having specific controls in place for different parts of a system, the attack surface (or potential entry points for attackers) becomes limited. Even if one part of the system is compromised, other parts remain secure.
  8. Reduces Risk of Lateral Movement: In the event of a breach, microsegmentation policies can limit the attacker’s ability to move laterally (from one system or network segment to another). This containment reduces potential damage.
  9. Adaptive Defense: Granular policies can be continually refined based on feedback and changing threats. As new vulnerabilities or threats emerge, specific defenses can be crafted without overhauling the entire security posture.
  10. User Experience: Generalized security measures can sometimes be overly restrictive, impacting user experience. Microsegmentation ensures that security is stringent where necessary, but without unnecessarily hampering legitimate activities.
  11. Improved Response Times: In the event of a security incident, the isolation provided by microsegmentation allows IT teams to identify and contain threats swiftly, minimizing potential damage and drastically reducing the blast radius of any breach.
  12. Defense in Depth: Granularity is an essential component of the defense-in-depth strategy, where multiple layers of security controls are placed throughout an IT system. By fine-tuning these layers, organizations can ensure that even if one defense is breached, others remain intact.

A Proactive Approach to IoT and Endpoint Security

The IoT era brings incredible opportunities but also unprecedented security challenges. While no solution offers a silver bullet for IoT security, micro-segmentation represents a significant step in the right direction. By adopting a proactive stance and integrating micro-segmentation into their security strategy, organizations can protect their networks against the ever-evolving threats targeting IoT devices and endpoints. It ensures that even as we become more connected, we don’t compromise on security.

As the likes of cloud working and IoT continue to expand, organizations must prioritize strategies like microsegmentation to stay ahead of potential threats. With its ability to offer increased visibility, control, and responsiveness, microsegmentation is the legislative gold standard to secure our interconnected future.

Integrating IoT devices into our daily lives and businesses is unstoppable and brings a slew of benefits. However, it’s essential to navigate this landscape with a security-first mindset. Micro-segmentation, with its focus on granular control and visibility, provides a potent tool to safeguard our networks and data in this age of connectivity. We can embrace the IoT revolution without sacrificing safety by championing such advanced security measures.

A Unique Protection Solution

We collaborate with Armis, to offer unique real-time insight and management across IT, IoT, and OT domains, at a granular level, with complete asset intelligence, permitting only approved communications and benchmarking what’s normal.

We’re here to help. Please get in touch for a no-obligation demonstration, if you’d like to learn how we can help you secure your devices and applications on a granular level, with microsegmentation.

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