We may not think about it much, but we truly live in a fascinating era of technology. Our devices are becoming smarter, and we aim to have them all online. The Internet of Things is thriving, boasting more connected devices than there are people on the planet. And that’s only the beginning.
Although there is always a dark side to progress — in the case of IoT, it’s the race between the cybercriminals and development of cybersecurity, where one party still wants to be a step ahead of the other. The reasons are evident: with so many connected devices that perform such a variety of tasks, the opportunities for taking advantage of that are endless. Among the tools that can stop or slow down hackers, strong authentication is the one that’s been around for a while. Still, it has to change as well. So what is the future of authentication for the Internet of Things?
The Importance of Authentication
Password protection is one of the first tools of defense that we’re all familiar with. But even the most complicated password can be hacked through a dictionary attack, not to mention the fact that people often forget complex passwords. With the need to implement better security, two-factor and multi-factor authentication became widely used. It’s usually an SMS code that the security system requires before you can perform an unusual action with your account.
However, in the business setting, the 2FA/MFA system can be more complex, requiring hardware tokens, separate devices or even biometrics (facial recognition, retina scan, fingerprint, etc.) to improve security. It’s essential for IoT as this system has to ensure that it’s ok to perform administrator actions for IoT devices. It is what their security depends on since many IoT devices don’t have physical User Interfaces and have to rely on administrator actions.
Challenges of IoT Security
When it comes to user experience, the beauty of IoT partially lies in the variety of devices that can be interconnected. However, that’s also the ultimate nightmare of its security, as hardware and software differences between various IoT devices make it much harder to come up with a security solution that would be applicable in every case. Piling on to this issue, manufacturers and developers of IoT devices often don’t develop a security solution for their product so they could reduce costs.
More Secure Authentication
Authentication can be the answer if we can make it simpler and more efficient. It should aim to reduce reliance on long, complicated passwords. Also, it should use the same authentication for multiple devices that are commonly used (considering some devices have no Human Machine Interface (HMI), it could be a gesture, a gps-location or silent authentication), and be faster and more convenient than our current 2FA/MFA processes.
To improve security, all sensitive data such as keys and biometrics should stay on the device itself. Ideally, you should be able to authenticate yourself to your device locally and then it would validate the user online using public key cryptography. That would also eliminate the need to have any link-ability between different accounts or services, vastly improving security.
IoT security presents a challenge, but with how IoT has been developing, its cybersecurity has to be an absolute priority. Solving these security concerns by securing the front door through strong and smart authentication will bring us a step closer to more fascinating technological developments.