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Preventing Security Breaches With The Internet of Things

Lisa Yeaton Specialist, Content Marketing Published 15 May 2017

“The network cannot be secured if security management personnel are unaware the IoT devices are part of the enterprise network. Discovery, provisioning, authentication and data protection will account for 50% of all security spend for IoT through 2020.” – Gartner

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a catch-all term for smart objects and computers connected to the Internet. Devices can include: kitchen appliances, wearables, cars, heart monitors, cameras, automation devices, energy utilities, multimedia devices, and smart sensors. This technology is connecting objects to create whole-new applications and solutions. Schools, universities, cities, and hospitals are smarter because of the technology. These devices will have an increased presence in the future – IDC predicts 30 billion IoT devices by 2020.

Unfortunately, IoT can introduce security holes and consume valuable bandwidth space on the network. According to our IoT survey over 50% of respondents cited security as one of the biggest potential issues. Without proper network management to control and monitor IoT, devices may enter the network unchecked, decrease bandwidth, and increase security risks.

An organization’s network is one of their most significant business assets and when it is breached, business can be lost, confidential information compromised, and personal data stolen. Educational institutions house student and faculty data on the network that could be at risk. Last year, a university was attacked by over 5,000 of its own IoT devices, including: refrigerators, vending machines, light bulbs, and sensors. Since a hospital’s medical devices are connected over the network, a security breach could compromise the life-critical medical devices on the network and jeopardize the privacy of patients’ medical records.

IT teams must have full control over the network to manage it easily and effectively. They must be able to monitor for security risks and verify that all network traffic is authorized. These are the core components for secure Internet of Things management:

Network management software allows IT to see devices and monitor them on the network as well as look for possible bottlenecks and network failures.

Extreme Management has made the job of managing the network easier and contributed to lower staffing requirements. The dashboards, which provide information and real insight into everything on the network, allowed us to move from being reactive and putting out fires to having visibility into the network. We can now see trends emerge so we can proactively address issues before users are impacted.” – Associate VP for Digital Innovation Benjamin Hockenhull, St. Edward’s University

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Access control software restricts the resources that each user can access based on the applied policies and controls. This prevents IoT devices that have not been verified from obtaining access to the network.   

“With Extreme Access Control, we have a great view of the campus and can locate even the smallest object, which is a great benefit to us and to others on campus. Access to management center and access control from anywhere on campus via a simplified web interface allows us to open it up from portable devices as well as desktops so we are able to manage the network on the fly.” Director of IT Shane Davis, Louisiana College

Application analytics enable IT staff to collect large amounts of uncorrelated, disparate, and often multi-dimensional operational data, and look for patterns that can indicate, for example, congestion, security issues, problems just emerging; and present this information in an easily-understandable format.

“In just a few months, Extreme Application Analytics has given us far beyond anything we have ever had in the past; a very granular look into exactly what is going on in the wired and wireless network – a view that we couldn’t get with any other tool that we have ever had,”Network Administrator and Computer Operations Manager Steve Boone, Hardin County School District

For networks to remain secure and optimized, IT needs to invest in scalable networks that can be effectively managed. A network will only be as tough, resilient, and adaptable as the IT staff managing it. That staff will be most effective if they are equipped with the best technology to keep networks optimized, secure, and high performing.

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