The IoT Data Challenge: Ensuring Security in the Age of Zettabytes

The use of IoT devices, both in the private and in the industrial sector, has increased significantly in recent years. The result: the amount of data is growing disproportionately.


From connected cars and fitness trackers to smart homes and factories, our everyday lives and workplaces are surrounded by the Internet of Things (IoT). There are billions of IoT devices in use around the world, and they generate zettabytes of data (a one followed by 21 zeros) in the range. This data has also significantly increased the attack surface for cyberattacks, making it harder for organizations to protect themselves. The IoT offers hackers a huge opportunity, providing a tremendous amount of data including many new backdoors that may not be adequately secured or even known.


Companies need to quickly get a grip on the world’s rapidly growing information universe, because the data cannot simply be deleted or archived. In addition to secure collection and management, data, including IoT data, is required in AI algorithms, for example, in order to be able to make business decisions based on well-founded information.


And the complexity doesn’t end there. Because the more data there is, the more important it becomes. Today, IoT devices control companies, control healthcare systems and can already be found in many households. Consequently, any loss of functionality or data can have a significant impact on a company’s business or even people’s lives.


That’s why it’s critical that organizations back up their IoT data to recover as quickly and efficiently as possible in the event of an attack or outage. Otherwise there is a risk that they will have to go out of business.


The following describes three aspects how companies can successfully protect their IoT data and prevent loss.


1. Know IoT devices


The main problem with IoT devices is that they are often inherently insecure. Most are designed with ease of use, low price and good connectivity in mind. They lack built-in security features and, in many cases, the ability for updates and patches. This makes these devices an attractive target for hackers.


The first step to becoming more secure is to determine the exact number of IoT devices on the corporate network and create a detailed inventory. Once companies have an overview of all IoT endpoints, it is important to improve security with good passwords, as many devices ship with weak default passwords. Admins should replace the pre-shared password with a more complex and secure password once an IoT device is connected to the network.


Patch management should also be used. Unlike most IT systems, IoT devices do not receive regular software updates to close security gaps. This means that it is up to the companies to ensure orderly patch and upgrade management to prevent attacks and data loss.




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2. Double Commitment to Privacy


Another important means of securing IoT data is the 3-2-1-1 data protection strategy. This strategy involves making three backup copies of the data on two different media (e.g. disk and tape), with one of these copies located elsewhere for safe recovery. The final element in this equation is immutable object storage.


Immutable object storage continuously secures IoT data, for example by taking snapshots of the data every 90 seconds. These enable timely data recovery. In the event of an outage, natural disaster, or ransomware attack, they make sure to revert to an up-to-date file state. Another benefit of snapshots is that they are immutable, meaning they cannot be modified, overwritten, or deleted. They thus protect data integrity from loss due to human error, hardware failure and most importantly, ransomware attacks.


With immutable snapshots, organizations can avoid downtime and ensure the smooth and uninterrupted delivery of services and operations, even when using potentially insecure IoT devices.


3. Choose the right partner


The possibilities and variety of IoT devices are changing rapidly and many new devices are entering the market every day. That is why the choice of partners and technologies is crucial for companies. Both the IT solution provider and the preferred partner and managed service provider must be highly experienced in the field of data storage and recovery and also be flexible in order to keep up with the rapid changes and to protect the data. This applies to any size of company, as IoT systems produce huge amounts of data. Managing this data and recovering it is critical to ensure business continuity.


When the internet came along, companies first realized that it produced a lot of data. Then they learned how valuable that data is and that it’s important to protect that data. The Internet of Things follows a similar evolution and companies are now beginning to understand the importance of protecting the data generated by the IoT devices on the network.