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Threat Modeling For IoT Solutions

The number and the diversity of IoT devices and their application scenarios are constantly increasing. While IoT use cases were initially known mainly from the consumer environment, they gained significant importance for companies to digitize processes and products.

Regardless of the specific requirements or the complexity of the respective application scenarios, ​​security is of central importance for IoT solutions. For example, the integrity of the collected data is an essential prerequisite for reliable decision-making with the help of artificial intelligence and thus for secure automation of business and production processes.

Another aspect is securing the individual solution components. From development to operation to final shutdown, an IoT device faces different security risks at each stage. Therefore, it is essential to consider possible threat scenarios for the entire solution with the help of a threat model and to analyze their effects during the conception phase to decide on suitable counter measures and corresponding implementation options at an early stage.

An IoT Device’s Credential

The question “Who am I?” also arises with IoT devices. To manage a network of intelligent devices or to interpret collected device data reliably, the secure assignment of a unique identity to each device is essential. This means that the identity must be established or assigned first in the first few moments of a productive “device life”.

But how does a device acquire its identity? There are different approaches to this. In practice, among other things, the assignment of the essence during the production process, the work with the help of hardware modules or the creation of the identity as part of the device commissioning is used. For all types of provisioning, it is equally important that both the assignment process and the identity storage meet the highest security requirements.

How Can Security Problems Be Prevented?

The best course of action is to start thinking about it at an early stage of development. Based on the solution architecture, reviews focusing on security aspects should be carried out with specialists from the domains of architecture, development and operation. In addition, it is advisable to consult external specialists, as they can contribute independently and with specific approaches.

During the conception and implementation phase, fundamental principles should be followed, such as:

  • Principle Of Least Privilege – a user should only have as many rights as necessary to perform a task.
  • Principle Of Fail-Safe Defaults – unless a user has direct access to an object, access should be denied.
  • Principle Of Open Design – use open and therefore widespread and multiply validated security standards.
  • Principle Of Separation of Privilege – access to the system should depend on several conditions; for example, only authenticated users and authorized via role membership are allowed access.

Testing should be consistent and automated in the development process, with a particular focus on the “unhappy” flows, i.e., where could a problem arise if it doesn’t run as ideally defined, and how is the system prepared for it? The errors often lie in the details of the interface definitions and their authorization mechanisms, or there is the possibility that manipulated data is induced that would have been discovered with a simple value range check.

Conclusion

When planning an IoT device, you should, of course, continue to plan with the ideal case and focus on customer benefits. However, you should also be prepared for an emergency, which could have existential consequences.

Cybersecurity remains an important issue in both the development and long-term maintenance of IoT devices. Companies should protect their investment and ideas while giving attackers as tiny a target as possible. IT security must become a core competence in every company that deals with the Internet of Things. In addition to the “normal” product features, this can also become a decisive competitive advantage over the competition in a world increasingly affected by virtual attacks.

Also Read: The Internet Of Things Confronts Security

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