Securing IoT devices with zero trust requires mindset shift
As data grows more integral to the enterprise, policies to protect it have to get more rigorous, especially those for IoT devices, which need a trust-but-verify approach. Zero-trust strategies are particularly important in a world of proliferating Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Many of these devices can access the network but also be easily compromised given lax or outdated security patches and the like on these devices. But companies often have to wrestle with a shift in mindset to adopt a zero-trust philosophy, as it often breaks from existing practices.
A zero-trust security strategy centers on the belief that companies shouldn’t just trust users – whether users are humans, devices or packets – inside or outside their perimeters and give them access to IT systems and data until they’ve been inspected and authenticated.
Under the zero-trust framework, only authenticated and authorized users and devices can access applications and data.
“Zero trust is really a mindset, or maybe an organizational culture, where anything you don’t know, you can’t trust and you have to verify,” said Gonda Lamberink, senior business development manager, UL.
That means organizations have to verify the identity of anyone or anything who accesses networks as part of an access control management strategy, she said.
Southern Methodist University (SMU) has embraced this zero-trust philosophy, said George Finney, the university’s chief security officer.
“It’s that mindset of habits,” Finney said. “You have to get into the mode of thinking skeptically about the technology you use and the ways you interact with it.”
Companies have to ensure that active devices – and users –meet certain requirements, Lamberink said.
Zero trust starts with having visibility into which IoT devices are running on a network and what these devices’ entail so an organization can apply the appropriate controls to isolate them, said Chase Cunningham, vice president and principal analyst, Forrester Inc.
“I can’t apply controls to a battlefield where I don’t even know what’s on my battlefield,” he said. “So I start by looking at the IoT space and saying, ‘This is what’s going on. This is what’s active, and this is what I need to start isolating because there may not be a business justification for [certain devices].”
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