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9 Ways to Employee Machine Learning to Improve IoT Security

Ken Wong
Ken WongAP Senior Vice President and President
I lead a fortune 500 tech company's rapid growth markets in Asia Pacific across PCs, mobile devices, and data centre infrastructure. I have extensive experience over the last two decades managing complex geographies in technology leadership roles at global, regional and country levels. I enjoy turning data insights and analysis into a powerful strategic direction that has seen us deliver exceptional innovation.

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The Internet of Things (IoT) has long been known as a potential security threat to many businesses. While you’ve taken steps to secure your network, including keeping your software updated and your IoT devices on a separate network from the one you use for regular office communications, you still worry about the potential security impact of these internet-connected devices in your office. Fortunately, the advances in technology also include artificial intelligence–and machine learning has the potential to transform the way you handle IoT security. These ten strategies will allow you to more effectively employee machine learning to improve your IoT security and enhance the cybersecurity structure in place throughout your office.

The IoT Problem

The Internet of Things has revolutionized the way many offices do business. It provides unparalleled convenience and allows many processes to be automated. Unfortunately, it’s also offered a huge problem for many offices: the gaping security hole that goes along with many IoT devices. Most IoT devices aren’t intended for complex processes. They’re designed to complete a single function or accomplish a handful of comparatively simple goals–and that means, as a result, that they’re short on processing power. As such, these devices simply don’t support the security software necessary in order to offer full protection–especially in the office environments where many of them operate every day. In many cases, IoT devices leave back doors open that hackers eagerly exploit in order to gain access to the rest of the network. This includes a range of security holes that your business might not even have considered when those devices were connected!

In order to truly understand how to solve the IoT problem, it’s necessary to change the way many people view their office environments. Rather than expecting device-level security, it’s necessary to step outside that view and discover how new solutions make it possible to integrate security into your network in spite of the potential threats offered by IoT devices.

Using AI to Shape a Solution

While the IoT problem may be severe, that doesn’t mean that you are without a solution. By effectively using artificial intelligence, it’s possible to shape solutions to the IoT security problems within your organisation, allowing to utilize those vital IoT devices without creating security holes within the organisation that could ultimately be devastating.

#1: Look for Cloud Integration

Most IoT devices lack the processing power necessary to support their own security software. This is a weakness that many hackers have been eager to exploit since many IoT devices are virtually unprotected. Once these devices are internet-connected, however, they can also be integrated with the cloud–and that means a wealth of security software that is readily available to those devices. By checking for cloud integration, you ensure that your devices are able to be better protected. Make sure, however, that the cloud integration includes appropriate data collection and swift reaction to information that has been collected.

#2: Create a Network Shield Around Your IoT

IoT devices in your office might not be protected as well as you might have hoped, but using the right protections around them can ensure that they aren’t detrimental to the security of your office environment. If malicious threats aren’t able to break into the network, they won’t be able to reach your devices. Utilize machine learning and intelligence to help identify and stop malicious network traffic, blocking machines that aren’t supposed to be on the network. Your network is a protective shield that will ensure the security of your devices–including IoT devices that are not specifically protected themselves.

#3: Analyse and Categorize Malicious Code

The rise in malicious code has increased substantially in recent years, and that means that defenders must react quickly in order to stop it. Machine learning has helped with this substantially: even simple programs can help identify malicious code with a success rate of around 90%. By employing artificial intelligence software around your IoT, you can detect that code and prevent it from running before it is injected into your system. While simply identifying this code can be difficult even for experienced professionals, artificial intelligence systems are able to sift through large quantities of data in order to more effectively understand what threats have been applied to the system–and to stop them before they become a more serious problem. Analysing code before it’s allowed to execute prevents a wide range of malicious attacks, including zero-day exploits.

#4: Check the Function of Devices

The good thing about the small processing ability of your IoT devices is that most of them were created to complete a very simple set of functions. When they step outside those functions within your network, it’s obvious that something is wrong–and thanks to machine learning, you can quickly identify any code that is outside the function of the devices and stop it before it’s able to impact your network. It’s not always necessary to specifically identify the code as malicious; instead, many AI-based programs can be used to simply note behaviour that is out of the ordinary for your devices.

#5: Use AI to Monitor all IoT Traffic

Most of the people within your organisation, no matter how effective they are, aren’t able to monitor every bit of traffic that moves through your IoT devices–but machines can. By utilizing AI to monitor and track the traffic moving through your systems, you’ll discover that you’re better able to note and defend against potential malicious behaviour from those devices. Human monitors are unable to keep up with all the traffic flowing through your network, no matter how much experience they have. AI, on the other hand, can easily track traffic from each device individually and from the network as a whole, allowing a fast response in the event of an attack.

#6: Instantly Isolate Problem Devices

Sometimes, your IoT devices are critical to your overall work performance–but that doesn’t mean that you want to use them when they’re injecting malicious code into your system. By effectively utilizing Artificial Intelligence programming, you can create standards that will determine when a device needs to be isolated from the system in order to protect your entire network. This simple strategy is best done by AI, since the system is able to quickly identify potential problems and act immediately, rather than slowing down for human confirmation. During this vital period, AI systems can prevent further tampering with your network and ensure that you are better positioned to prevent malicious software from spreading.

#7: Automate the Update Process

Keeping up with updates is a challenge throughout your office–especially since many updates quickly become time-consuming as they take down the system they’re trying to update until the software download is finished. Those updates, however, are critical to the overall security of your system, closing security holes and making it easier to protect your devices. AI systems that can automate and streamline the update process, on the other hand, can potentially protect your system while still ensuring full functionality: by installing updates when each system isn’t in use, scheduling updates for times that are more convenient for the business, and prioritizing access for updates that are critical for security, it’s possible to better shape your update security.

#8: Maintain that Critical Hybrid Approach

While advances in technology allow for more advanced threat detection than ever, it’s still critical that the human element be maintained. Using a hybrid approach–that is, combining machine intelligence with human ability–remains the most effective strategy for securing your network as a whole, including IoT devices. Take advantage of the human security professionals that work within your office as you discover how to enhance the overall security of your devices.

#9: Control Where Devices Operate

Many of your vital IoT devices don’t need to operate at the core of your network–and, in fact, controlling where they operate can help increase your overall protection. Keeping those devices at the edge of the network, where they don’t have access to the devices and information at the heart of your system, can help control the security of your entire network.

The IoT has created a number of unique problems within many networks. In an effort to rush out features and provide additional convenience as quickly as possible, many manufacturers failed to take security into consideration–and as a result, it’s necessary for your company to carefully consider which devices are genuinely necessary, then protect the network around them. By adopting artificial intelligence technology throughout the office, it’s possible to transform the way you protect the vital data in your systems and maintain functionality. In fact, to many, it seems that artificial intelligence is the answer to many of the security problems raised by IoT integration. By taking advantage of this swiftly rising technology, your entire company will discover the benefits of artificial intelligence.

If you’re ready to transform your security and need more help with the process,  check out our eBook on Digital Transformation in Asia!

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