Best Practices for Ensuring the Security of Cloud Computing and IoT Devices

Cloud computing and IoT devices have revolutionized the way we live and work, offering unprecedented convenience and connectivity. However, they also introduce significant cyber security challenges, with new attack surfaces and vulnerabilities. This article explores the importance of securing cloud computing and IoT devices and provides essential tips and best practices for safeguarding your data, devices, and networks from cyber threats.


Understanding IoT Security

IoT devices, ranging from smart appliances to connected vehicles, are susceptible to remote attacks due to their internet connectivity. IoT security is the vital process of protecting these devices to prevent them from becoming entry points for network threats. This is particularly challenging because many IoT devices prioritize features and usability over robust security.

For example, in December 2020, a class action lawsuit was filed against Ring and Amazon, claiming that hackers had unlawfully accessed users’ smart home cameras. In 2021, the 20/20 Eye Care Network detected unauthorized data removal from the S3 buckets hosted within its Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure. Concerns arose that malicious actors might have gained access to sensitive information, including names, addresses, Social Security numbers, member identification numbers, birth dates, and health insurance details of some or all of 20/20’s health plan members.


Key Steps to Secure Cloud Computing and IoT Devices

Recognizing the unique threats posed by cloud computing and IoT devices is the first step. Cloud computing relies on third-party providers to secure data, introducing visibility and control challenges. IoT devices, due to their internet connectivity and limited resources, face various vulnerabilities.

IT administrators need not shoulder the burden of cloud security alone. Cloud IoT providers come equipped with tools and resources to assist corporate IT teams in establishing and maintaining robust IoT security measures. The key lies in selecting an IoT cloud vendor that aligns with an organization’s IoT security objectives.


  1. Request Up-to-Date Security Audits from Cloud IoT Providers

In a 2021 report, IBM highlighted that two-thirds of cloud security breaches could potentially have been prevented through measures like fortifying systems with security policies and timely patching. Not all vendor cloud environments offer the same level of IoT security. Hence, organizations should insist on receiving the most recent IT security audits and copies of security policies from their chosen cloud IoT vendors before finalizing agreements.


  1. Leverage Available Security Features from Cloud Providers

Many organizations adopt cloud services with built-in security features but sometimes fail to activate the available options that can safeguard their IoT deployments. Leading cloud providers offer IoT device monitoring, encryption of IoT data during transit and storage, vulnerability checks, and robust network communication security. Organizations must actively configure these security options. Alternatively, for those lacking IoT security expertise or resources, cloud vendors can be consulted to set up security measures on their behalf.


  1. Enhance IoT Device Security Using the Cloud

Often, IoT devices come with limited default security settings, requiring IT administrators to configure them for heightened security. However, beyond these device-level configurations, the cloud can play a pivotal role in bolstering IoT device security. Cloud-based IoT middleware acts as an intermediary between IoT devices and the applications they access. It monitors IoT device activities, ensures proper authorization for device access to applications and data, and checks for security vulnerabilities in IoT device connections. If any unusual behavior suggestive of a security breach is detected, the cloud IoT security middleware issues immediate alerts. These solutions serve as backup security configurations for the IoT devices managed by IT administrators.


  1. Define Roles and Responsibilities Between Enterprise IT and Cloud Vendors

When entering into agreements, contracts should explicitly outline the responsibilities of each party involved. Opting for customized agreements, rather than default ones, often serves the best interests of enterprises. For instance, if a small company lacks the IT capacity or expertise to oversee IoT security independently, it may delegate this responsibility to the cloud IoT vendor. In such cases, specialized service contracts can be negotiated with the vendor, extending beyond the initial baseline agreement. These contracts should clearly specify the IoT security roles of both the cloud vendor and the organization’s IT team, addressing aspects such as IoT activity monitoring, security update implementation, data encryption, and user authorization levels.


  1. Leverage Cloud Capabilities to Implement Security Protocols

Robust network protocols, including message-passing protocols, point-to-point encryption, and security certificates, are vital components of overall cloud security. Cloud providers issue certificates and private security keys to their users, each of which must be generated individually for every IoT device.


  1. Implement Network Segmentation


While each company designs its cloud IoT architecture differently, an emerging best practice is to maintain a clear separation between internal corporate networks and external networks involving business partners or customers. Network segmentation contains and limits the impact of any IoT security issues that may arise within a specific network, ensuring that they do not affect the broader ecosystem.