Millions of connected devices are washing over the IT landscape and are expected to reach over 20 billion worldwide by 2020, according to an estimate from Gartner. But only 38% of IoT projects involve input from CISOs and IT security professionals, according to a recent Trend Micro survey.
The lack of IT security input comes at a time when organizations averaged three, IoT-related cybersecurity attacks on their infrastructure over the past year, according to Trend Micro's survey of 1,150 IT and security decision makers across the globe.
"Our study shows too many organizations across the globe don't prioritize security as part of their IoT strategy, which leaves them vulnerable. Unless security is addressed as part of the deployment, these devices will remain exposed and vulnerable since, for the most part, they were not designed to be updated or patched," Kevin Simzer, Trend Micro's COO, noted in a statement.
Indeed. Gartner's study predicts 25% of identified attacks against the enterprise will involve IoT devices when 2020 rolls around. And the research firm's 2016 IoT Backbone Survey found that 32% of IT leaders cite security as their top barrier to IoT success.
The high-profile Mirai IoT botnet, for example, transformed an army of IP cameras and home routers into a DDoS attack weapon. Meanwhile, concerns continue to rise over potential attacks on industrial control systems connected to the Internet from heating and cooling systems to utilities. (See IoT Malware-on-the-Fly Expected to Rise .)
How CISOs & IT security pros find a place at the IoT table
It seems likely that CISOs and IT security professionals will be consulted on IoT projects in the future. With a third of IT leaders recognizing security is paramount to the success of IoT projects, and the Trend Micro survey finding 79% of IT departments are the ones to choose IoT solutions, a CISO or IT security professional is already sitting close to where the action is occurring.
"Security has the reputation as the team that says, 'no.' That is on us as security pros to highlight and show how security is important to all IT projects and how it will help with the business goals," Mark Nunnikhoven, vice president of cloud research for Trend Micro, told Security Now.
One way security pros and CISOs can get a jump on potential IoT projects at their company is to consider what type of IoT devices would likely be used by their organization and to bone up on all the potential security issues that may arise from such devices and potential mitigations, Nunnikhoven said.
For example, if a CISO works for an amusement park company, his or her organization may consider looking at IoT wristbands. A savvy IT security professional would be well versed on the security and privacy issues of these devices before the operations team proposes using them.
"Be experts in these areas before the other teams come knocking on your door," Nunnikhoven advises. "You need to be seen as an expert and show a willingness to work with them and deliver projects on time and securely."
Wrangling in the wild herd
When it comes to knowing who is responsible for IoT security, nearly 33% of survey respondents did not know.
"IoT projects are not often viewed as IT projects, but instead viewed as facilities or operational projects," Nunnikhoven said. "The CISO often doesn't even know these IoT projects exist, but when it comes to security the buck always stops with the CISO."
CISOs and IT security leaders, as a result, need to ensure that the high-level policies they are establishing in terms of risk and safeguarding privacy are being rolled out across a variety of teams from facility to operational departments and IT teams.
And security leaders should also push for a cultural shift where IT security departments are no longer viewed as the final phase of approving an IoT project but rather brought in early as a security educator and consultant to other company teams.
"A culture shift is required of security teams," Nunnikhoven added.
— Dawn Kawamoto is an award-winning technology and business journalist, whose work has appeared in CNET's News.com, Dark Reading, TheStreet.com, AOL's DailyFinance, and The Motley Fool.