IoT devices and the connected enterprise have brought a lot of new opportunities. With those opportunities, there comes a ton of potential security problems. The question is, how can I take advantage of these new opportunities while still protecting my network? The answer is to secure your IoT deployments. Here’s why I’m a ZingBox customer.
As the IT Director for Brainerd Baptist School, I have been deeply concerned about the security around IoT for a number of years. At my campus, we’ve had IoT devices on our network since 2009. The original one was a commercial HVAC management controller that allows our facilities department to monitor all 50 of our HVAC units from a single interface. This system sounds awesome in premise (and it is), but from an IT perspective, it’s awful. Yes, it functionally does its job, but it’s using an outdated Java interface that continually breaks with each Java update. Every time I complain about this to our commercial HVAC vendor, their advice is to stop updating Java. You don’t have to be a security expert to realize that not updating plugins that have continuous security problems is a bad idea! When I was contacted by ZingBox last summer (2016), and was told about their approach to IoT security through visibility into the IoT infrastructure, revealing vulnerabilities and threats, I felt relieved.
Over time, we’ve added things like an internet-connected CCTV system, an internet-connected security system (physical security for the building), and an internet-connected access control system to our campus. All of these products do their job, but they all give me reason to worry. I have zero idea of who these devices could be talking to and I have holes open in my firewall so users can connect to them offsite as well. I have basically taken the devices I know are difficult to manage and opened my firewall to allow them to receive connections from the outside world. What could go wrong? A lot!
Traditional security appliances (firewall vendors) are really not setup to handle IoT. Their specialty is spam, malware, content filtering, intrusion, and other legacy types of threats. While those are still important, IoT represents a problem traditional firewalls are not setup to handle. In a sense, the firewall is a garage door. You definitely want to shut it, but you also can’t neglect your other entry doors. ZingBox is designed to cover those other entry points. In a connected enterprise, you really need both.
Getting back to how I became a ZingBox customer – after getting the initial call about a trial, I immediately said yes. I had been wanting a product like this for some time. The folks at ZingBox got me going with a trial, which was an easy setup, and we let it run for a few weeks.
As I suspected, our IoT devices were receiving tons of connection attempts from overseas. Our CCTV system was phoning home to an IP address in China. My fears were realized. Before ZingBox, I thought I might have an IoT security problem. By letting ZingBox run on my network, I knew I had an IoT security problem. ZingBox had detected a Mirai infected CCTV system even before the malware was known as Mirai.
Thankfully, discovery was just step 1. I was then able to take the data that the ZingBox cloud application gathered for me and implement a number of rules in my firewall to build a second layer of defense on my network. By leveraging ZingBox and the data behind it, I can safely implement IoT devices and not have to rely on ill-equipped security devices that keep me wondering what they are doing. ZingBox discovers all the devices, tells me what they are doing, and identifies the location they are trying to be accessed from and provides ability to defend your network from IoT threats. It’s deep learning technology proactively protects the network from zero-day attacks. For anyone concerned about securing the IoT devices on your network, I would highly recommend ZingBox.
Note about our Guest Blogger: Bradley Chambers has been the IT Director at Brainerd Baptist School in Tennessee for 7 years. He oversees all of the technology efforts at the school including managing the network infrastructure, end user devices, student database, and online enrollment.