IoT Certificates and Securities: Everything You Need to Know

Internet of Things (IoT) is among the most prominent innovations in recent times that has enhanced automation in many industries. According to Gartner, IoT has great potential for data generation across the roughly 20 billion endpoints expected to be in use in 2020. It’s projected that the number of IoT devices worldwide will triple from 9.7 billion in 2020 to over 29 billion in 2030.

The benefits of these devices can be measured based on a variety of activities they can fulfill. But what does this growing reliance on connected technologies mean for enterprises in terms of IoT security? 

In this guide, we explore everything you need to know about IoT certificates and securities including their compliance, risks, and why they may be critical to security in the future of the IoT.

What is an IoT Certificate?

Not to be confused with IoT certification - which is used by the industry to establish a baseline and provide proof of the necessary abilities, knowledge, and the required skills to design and deploy IoT networks. We have more on IoT certifications here. 

IoT Certificates are deployed in order to ensure IoT devices can reliably and safely communicate and establish authentication across your digital ecosystem. An IoT certificate uses an encryption algorithm to scramble data to ensure it’s safe from hackers. The complexity of ever-evolving IoT devices that are interconnected with your system creates vulnerability as each may have different IoT SSL certificates, which need to be managed properly to safeguard network security.

Are IoT Devices Vulnerable?

Despite their extensive functionality, smart and connected IoT devices can also introduce blind spots for hackers and security risks that come in the form of vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities leave networks open to cyberattacks, which can lead to the theft of critical corporate data and user credentials.

IoT devices may be vulnerable for a couple of reasons including:

  • Use of a variety of transmission technologies that hinder the implementation of enough security methods and protocols for any single technology
  • Limited computation and hardware abilities that prevent the application of robust data protection and security mechanisms
  • Vulnerable basic components leaving most devices open to cyberattacks
  • Lack of security awareness for the user may expose smart devices to attacks and vulnerabilities

IoT botnets serve as a good example that demonstrates the effect of device risks and vulnerabilities and how cyberattacks have graduated to using them. For instance, in 2016, Mirai, one of the most popular types of IoT botnets malware, took down prominent websites in a distributed denial of services (DDoS) campaign where thousands of household IoT devices were compromised.

Apart from cyberattacks, vulnerabilities in IoT are the major causes of privacy breaches that attract massive legislative-related fines and penalties for violations of regulations such as CCPA, PCI DSS, GDPR, and HIPAA.


iot security

When to Generate Certificates

Your devices require end-to-end communication since hackers often use IoT devices as an entry point for bad activities such as phishing. Certificates in IoT help to verify authorized devices and add an extra layer of security to the network.  The combination of the public and private keys used in PKI ensures that all data sent to and from IoT devices remains safe and secure from unauthorized access and use.

For instance, in the early phases of an IoT project, a number of devices will be provisioned to AWS IoT for development and testing purposes. During this phase, AWS IoT offers the ability to create all necessary resources to provision a single IoT from the AWS Management Console or even the AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI). In this case, the certificate is generated and issued by an AWS CA including the private and public keys. The certificate and private key are then added to the device’s file system or written directly into the firmware code of the device.

When to Install Certificates

Connectivity plays a vital role in determining when to generate certificates for your smart devices. Some hardware security modules (HSM) provide a premium service where the vendor installs a certificate on behalf of the customer. But the customer has to install the HSM on the device they want.

The easiest way to integrate the certificate into your existing process is to install the certificate with the initial firmware image. Every device should go through at least one touch in the manufacturing process to get the image installed before it passes the final quality check before reaching the final destination.  

installing certificates

Understanding IoT Security Risks

In the age of IoT, machines, and objects in almost every industry can be easily connected and configured to transfer data over cellular networks to the backend and cloud applications.

While diversity and growth can give users countless devices to choose from, it’s among the reasons behind the fragmentation of IoT and carries many of its security concerns. The portability nature of these devices presents a greater possibility of cyber threats that may affect more than one network. Similarly, the lack of industry foresight and standardization has also contributed to the rise of compatibility issues that complicate the security of IoT.

Unfortunately, the diverse computing power and data types among IoT devices means that there’s no one size fits all solution that can safeguard data and devices during IoT deployment

Any IoT business that wants to tackle this problem should undergo a comprehensive security risk assessment that identifies any vulnerabilities in the devices and network systems including customer and user backend systems. Any security risk should be alleviated for the whole IoT lifecycle including during deployment and when scaling and expanding geographically.

Are There Security Standards for IoT? 

It’s no secret that more IoT devices are being deployed in the market and the number keeps increasing every year. All these new connected devices mean increased sharing of personal data which is susceptible to attacks by hackers. To avoid exposure of your IoT deployment to unwanted risk means security must be top-of-mind for manufacturers.

However, there is a natural fluctuation between businesses on which security measures are necessary. For this reason, we cannot assume that every IoT device is secure until it meets the required IoT security standards and a constant code of practice for consumer IoT security that is updated regularly to counter any new threats that may emerge.

In 2019, the government began the process of regulating the IoT to mitigate growing cyberattacks especially device and network security. In 2020, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of the United States released four draft applications that focus on IoT securities issues identified in the IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2020.  The document provides recommendations on how to self-certify connected device cyber threats to both manufacturers and federal agencies.

iot security Standards

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IoT Security Challenges for Device Manufacturers and How to Solve Them

Internet-enabled devices are prone to a myriad of IoT security challenges. Unlike other technologies, most businesses don’t understand the inherent risks associated with IoT systems nor do they comprehend the depth of IoT challenges. Here are some of the major security challenges in IoT.

Weak IoT Authentication

Passwords are the first line of defense against any hacking attempts. Many IoT devices have little to no authentication which can be a gateway to an entire network where hackers can distribute malware and DDoS attacks. In other cases, users create weak passwords that are easy to guess.

Manufacturers can ensure authentication is much more secure by adding multiple steps, using strong default passwords, and even setting robust authentication processes such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), digital certificates, and biometrics.

Lack of Encryption

The communication points between edge devices and back-end systems require that the implementation of encryption technologies is done across various IoT device platforms.

That said, lack of encryption is still among the biggest IoT security challenges on regular transmission. In most cases, IoT devices fail to encrypt data sent, which means hackers may penetrate the network, and steal important personal data and credentials being transmitted to and from these devices.

To manage potential breaches, an enterprise should ensure that all IoT devices are encrypted and issued with X.509 standard certificate. This allows the person in charge to identify, authorize, and authenticate any IoT device on the network including the data being transmitted.

Access to Shared Networks

It’s common to have multiple IoT devices connected to the same network such as LAN or Wi-Fi. But as more devices connect to a shared network, it makes the whole network vulnerable. Even worse, the IT expert may find it hard to identify potential risks. Hackers can find their way into the network and access more private information stored on the network leading to serious ramifications.

The IoT deployment team should build modules that outline the physical and digital assets that need protection. Similarly, each IoT device should use a different network that has a security firewall or gateway to prevent a security breach on any of these devices.

Lack of Regular Firmware Updates

Outdated firmware, corrupt updates, insecure update deployment, and legacy systems can be a threat to the whole network. This leaves room for cybersecurity threats and challenges, often followed by large-scale cyber attacks. Insecure software solutions can also compromise the devices and the network to which they are connected. Lack of regular security and firmware updates may worsen the situation.

Security experts should ensure they scan any hardware or software that is handling the devices. Frequent and secure updates should follow and the integrity of these updates needs to be verified along with their sources.

Why Is IoT Security Important?

We’re probably aware of the statistics: Tens of billions of new IoT devices will be in existence by 2025, increasing the global GDP by trillions of dollars. However, we have seen security, safety, reliability, and privacy concerns coming up as a result. Security concerns can be as much of a challenge as the prices of these devices.

IoT is among the most significant security vulnerabilities that affect nearly everyone from organizations to consumers and governments. The benefits of IoT securities cannot be ignored as these connected devices provide hackers with several ways to launch attacks.

IoT security offers the required protection for these devices that are vulnerable to cyberattacks. Manufacturers should build security capabilities into their systems to better equip them to address any issues or risks that may occur when using connected devices.

Matter Compliant Certificates On Your IoT

The matter protocol is an effort to provide a standard for reliable and secure interoperability for smart home devices, cloud devices, and mobile apps. Matter's main goal is to have all compliant devices work seamlessly with other devices that are matter-compliant. In addition to enabling communication between connected devices, it will define a specific set of IP-based networking to facilitate device certification.

With a matter-compliant IoT, developers can be able to build reliable, secure IoT systems, maintain their focus on developing innovative products, and even speed up time to market.


matter compliant certificates

IoT Security Is A Must 

As IoT devices grow and your business scales, IoT security needs to catch up.

Severe security threats and breaches have cropped up that can affect an organization's bottom line. Similarly, breaches in IoT can cost upwards of millions of dollars and even damage the reputation of a business. Faced with these situations, the time to take IoT security seriously is now.

With IoT certificates and securities, data integrity will be far more secure. But before deploying your IoT networks, it’s important to consult with your provider about the robustness of the entire network. At Ovyl, we guide customers through their journey, helping you decide which IoT security mechanism should be implemented in every IoT ecosystem. We can handle any challenges related to IoT, medical, wearable, and any device within the IoT space.

Ready to get started securing your IoT devices, get in touch with our team for a quick demo.

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