Security of Things: SentinelOne on how IoT will 'fix itself' like an immune system

We speak with Caleb Fenton of SentinelOne about how the IoT security sphere is set to evolve, and whether it is all 'doom and gloom' for implementors.

The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most disruptive and consequential technological trends - both for businesses and consumers - of the last decade. The number of connected devices and sensors has exponentially skyrocketed in recent years, as their benefits become increasingly obvious and tangible for those savvy organisations willing to reap the value of the data they produce. According to IDC's latest forecasts, there will be a mind-boggling 41.6 billion internet connected "things" by 2025, generating a total of 79.4 zettabytes of data. This growth in IoT devices is forging a massively valuable industry, with spending to exceed $1 trillion by 2022 (from 729 billion today).

However, with this considerable uptrend in the number of connected devices, we are seeing an alarming increase in the enterprise cyber-attack surface. While IoT gives organisations a means to create troves of valuable data and drive new revenue streams, it can also pave the way for brand new types of vulnerabilities that can lead to disastrous outcomes. As the scene is still relatively novel, with many new devices rushed to market, hackers don't even need to work that hard to break into devices and move laterally within an enterprise network. Rather, simple things like default credential vulnerabilities can hand hackers the keys to your network.

Just how bad is the outlook for IoT security in the future? That will largely depend on who you talk to. Recently, analyst firm GlobalData revealed its findings on the growth of IoT devices, indicating that it could be one of the single biggest security pain points for implementors in the near future, with very basic vulnerabilities in a massive range of common devices. Furthermore, in an interview on GlobalData's Verdict website, cybersecurity expert Mikko Hyppönen described the proliferation of "stupid" internet-connected devices as the "IT asbestos of the future".

"Asbestos was such a great innovation. It looked like a miracle material, originally. Cheap, easy to manufacture, perfect in every way. You can mould it into any shape you want, it's great for insulation. It's great for fireproofing. And it's also lethal," Hyppönen said.

"Such a great innovation, which then decades later turned out to be the worst innovation. What's happening right now, around us, I guess would be characterised as IT asbestos. We are currently in the early stages of this revolution, but eventually anything that uses electricity will be online. So this is going to happen, whether we like it or not. Everything will become a computer and right now this seems like an excellent idea, to many of the companies in this business."

While this makes for quite a bleak outlook, others within the industry are not so sceptical. One such IoT advocate is Caleb Fenton, cybersecurity expert and head of innovation at endpoint security company SentinelOne. Fenton argues that the sky is not falling in, rather, the outlook for IoT is rather bright in that as hackers and researchers uncover vulnerabilities in IoT devices, the ecosystem will ‘fix itself'.

Fenton describes this as an immune system-like response with robust security practices and strong IoT infrastructure developing over time. We sat down with Fenton to expand on this idea, and to explore how organisations can navigate the minefield that is IoT security right now.

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