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Identity and access management challenges in the contemporary IoT ecosystem

IoT
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/everything possible)

Did you know the number of IoT devices worldwide is expected to inflate from 7.6 billion to 24.1 billion by 2030? This undeniably depicts that the future belongs to connected devices. 

We live in an era that’s continuously undergoing a paradigm shift and paving the path for digital transformation and automation for daily task management. 

However, what’s worrisome is that a smarter world doesn’t mean smarter security. 

Manufacturers often neglect security while designing the most pleasing user experience, which undoubtedly poses severe challenges for consumers and manufacturers. 

Since millions of IoT devices collect massive data each day that includes information regarding personal routines, cybercriminals can quickly perform a sneak and exploit users’ identities. 

Moreover, what’s more challenging is the innocuous nature of different small devices, making them the prime targets for cybercriminals that bypass any frail layer of security to gain access to sensitive consumer data. 

Unquestionably, IoT technologies aren’t mature enough and have numerous challenges to overcome. 

Let’s dig deeper into diverse identity and access management challenges lingering on the modern IoT landscape that require immediate attention.

Identity protection 

Since the global IoT revenue is expected to cross the $1.5 trillion mark by 2030, identity protection becomes the need of the hour and carries weight in the future. 

Regardless of their use cases, several IoT devices accumulate sensitive information from their surroundings that introduce higher risks.

Although the information contained in the smart devices isn’t dangerous on its own, its depth could certainly leave consumers and organizations in dire straits. 

The information could quickly portray everything about a user, which helps criminals with all the necessary facts to exploit their identity. 

Furthermore, entertainment devices collect a lot of information and even watch the user. This increases the chances of identity theft and misuse. 

The security of these systems is linked with digital identities that simply means that a robust identity and access management (IAM) mechanism should be an integral part of all the IoT devices and networks to mitigate any risk. 

Thus, the privacy-related issues can lead to compromised identities, which further impacts both the consumers and service providers.

Smart home security concerns 

As of now,  there are around 259.89 million smart homes in the world, and the numbers are expected to reach 478.2 million in 2025. 

With more and more reliance on smart devices globally, there are more chances of compromised security and privacy of individuals. 

This means a smart home may offer endless possibilities, but users’ sensitive data can be more prone to risks. 

Let’s understand why a smart home is a matter of concern among cybersecurity experts. 

Since every device in the home can be the entry point for a data breach, they can cause severe threats to both the consumer and the service provider as most devices aren’t relying on the best security mechanisms. 

Whether we talk about smart door locks, automatic lights, or entertainment devices, everything that can be accessed remotely is usually the prime target of cybercriminals. 

Moreover, devices controlled through applications and computer interfaces are equally vulnerable to security breaches. Most of the time, attackers exploit user identities through which users have already logged in. 

These kinds of security breaches can be avoided by adding multiple layers of security to the current networks and devices that kick in whenever someone tries unauthorized access. 

This means stringent security practices, including multi-factor authentication (MFA) and adaptive authentication, should be in place to ensure adequate safety. 

Frail disaster recovery system  

One of the significant challenges that vendors and IoT consumers are facing is the poor disaster recovery mechanism of the connected devices. 

IoT systems aren’t able to deliver a flawless experience when it comes to the identification of a diverse range of risk points well in advance. This poses a severe risk since recovery isn’t guaranteed in these interlinked devices within a network. 

This means, in case of a system failure, there are chances that critical information can be permanently lost. 

Moreover, businesses without a robust data recovery mechanism can face financial losses as well as end up tarnishing their brand reputation. 

AI-based IoT systems coupled with stringent access management systems can predict a wide range of data risks, which can be avoided. Also, enterprises can mitigate the risk by analyzing the records generated by machine learning-based architectures that further aids in a smooth recovery in case of a system failure. 

Enterprises need to have a well-structured data recovery plan before they leverage IoT devices to deliver rich experiences to their customers since the protection of sensitive consumer data should be the top priority. 

Compromised access control  

Many businesses and individuals leverage smart access control systems that deliver a flawless user experience through connected IoT devices. 

Though it can be quite a convenient way of authorizing employees or individuals within a network, it can undoubtedly lead to unnecessary sneaking of cybercriminals on a hunt to find a loophole through a device. 

Millions of records get exposed every year just because of a human error, which can be a result of a poor access control system within organizations. 

Although businesses and service providers are offering adequate security at their end, somehow, that’s not sufficient, especially when robust security and access control mechanisms don’t back the connected devices. 

This means attackers can peep into a network by exploiting a connected device that further helps them impersonate an authorized user. 

It’s essential for security architects to work precisely on balancing security with authentication methods and must consider adding risk-based authentication and authorization methods for creating a more robust line of defense.

Final thoughts 

Adding strong authentication and authorization is undeniably the need of the hour, especially in a digital world where security threats increase substantially. 

Considering the IoT ecosystem, identity and access management should be prioritized as cybercriminals are always hunting for exploiting consumer identities for diverse self-seeking reasons. 

Moreover, enterprises embarking on a journey to digitally transform themselves must consider relying on stringent authentication mechanisms and adequate security policies before leveraging IoT devices and networks.

Deepak Gupta, CTO and co-founder, LoginRadius

Deepak is the CTO and co-founder of LoginRadius [https://loginradius.com/], a rapidly-expanding Customer Identity and Access Management Provider.