This post discusses how to take advantage of IoT in the finance industry by overcoming security challenges with automation, secure platforms, and vendor-neutral orchestration
IoT in the finance industry: security challenges and solutions
There were over 10.54 million global IoT cybersecurity attacks in December 2022 alone. In the finance industry, a breach can result in significant consequences, including regulatory fines and irreparable reputational damage, which means IoT security must be a top priority. Let’s discuss the specific security challenges of using IoT in the finance industry.
Challenge #1: Keeping IoT devices up-to-date
IoT typically uses low-touch, set-it-and-forget-it devices, so they’re deployed around the network’s edge and receive little interaction from operators or technical staff. For example, IoT devices collect sensitive financial data from ATMs, self-service payment kiosks, and smartphone applications with little-to-no human oversight. That makes it easy for network teams to forget about operating system (OS) and software updates, especially when dozens or thousands of IoT devices are in use.
In fact, a recent report found that teams wait an average of 205 days to patch their infrastructure. This is a frightening statistic given that out-of-date software is rife with vulnerabilities just waiting to be exploited by cybercriminals looking for valuable financial data.
Solution: Automated patch management
Automating patches is the best way to ensure they’re installed on time. For example, many IoT device management systems provide dashboards where admins can see IoT device versioning information at-a-glance, manually deploy or roll-back updates, or create automated schedules/triggers to deploy those updates without manual intervention. However, most of these platforms only work within specific vendor ecosystems, which limits your capabilities. The best practice is to use a vendor-neutral IoT device management platform that can dig its hooks into multi-vendor IoT devices. This will ensure that critical IoT devices like credit card payment readers are kept secure and up-to-date.
A vendor-neutral IoT device management platform with automated patch management ensures that all devices are kept up-to-date and no vulnerabilities fall between the cracks.
Challenge #2: Securing remote management interfaces
Network admins typically work from a centralized location, which means they remotely access and manage IoT deployments at the branch and edge using jump boxes or serial consoles. If these remote management devices and interfaces aren’t adequately secured, malicious actors could use them to access IoT data and move laterally to other sensitive resources on the network. However, many admins deploy jump boxes without onboarding them with IT, which means they’re not added to security monitoring software and don’t have enterprise policies or controls applied. Serial consoles, on the other hand, often lack the advanced security features and integrations needed to protect them from cybercriminals.
Solution: Secure management hardware and software
The newest generation of serial consoles includes robust hardware security features and supports advanced authentication methods to safeguard remote management interfaces from compromise. A 3rd generation – or Gen 3 – serial console has onboard security features like a self-encrypted disk (SED), secure boot, BIOS protection, and geofencing, so malicious actors can’t access a stolen device. In addition, it supports SAML 2.0 authentication (via integrations with providers like Okta and Ping) and other advanced authentication methods to prevent unauthorized access to its software.
A Gen 3 serial console solution uses robust onboard security features and third-party security integrations to protect management hardware and interfaces.
Challenge #3: Complying with data privacy regulations
In a highly-regulated industry like finance, organizations must keep track of which people and devices can access sensitive data and ensure that permissions are granted on a least-privilege basis. Typically, achieving this level of granular control requires applying strict Zero Trust Security policies to every device and user accessing the network, including IoT devices at the edge. However, extending enterprise security policies and controls to the edge is difficult in a distributed, heterogeneous environment due to vendor lock-in.
For example, some branch networking solutions don’t support integrations with third-party identity management tools, forcing you to use their built-in access management settings. That means admins must manually recreate their Zero Trust data access policies in the router settings at every single branch and ensure they’re kept up-to-date.
Solution: Vendor-neutral Zero Trust Security orchestration
A centralized Zero Trust Security orchestration platform allows admins to deploy and manage security policies and controls across the network from a single place. A vendor-neutral platform can extend policy enforcement and other vital security controls to any device or application on the network. For example, you can apply the same Zero Trust data policies to all branch routers in the entire architecture to ensure consistent enforcement. Such a platform makes compliance easier because financial organizations gain greater control over data access privileges and monitoring for IoT devices deployed anywhere in the world.
A vendor-neutral Zero Trust Security orchestration platform simplifies IoT data compliance by providing a centralized control panel to deploy and manage security policies across the entire distributed network architecture.
Challenge #4: Quickly resolving IoT security incidents
When malicious actors compromise an IoT device, financial organizations must act quickly to avoid regulatory fees and reputational damage. However, these devices are often deployed in remote, hard-to-reach locations with no technical or security staff nearby, such as in rural or island communities. That means problems require an expensive, time-consuming truck roll to resolve. Even with a team on-site, manual root cause analysis (RCA) and recovery efforts take a lot of time and effort, increasing both the duration and the expense of incidents.
Solution: Secure OOB with automation and AIOps support
The solution to this IoT security challenge involves out-of-band serial consoles and automation.
- Out-of-band (OOB) serial consoles create a dedicated control plane to manage, troubleshoot, and recover remote devices and infrastructure. Admins access this control plane via alternative network interfaces that don’t rely on the production network at all. This means teams can still reach remote IoT devices even if the ISP goes down or the LAN is compromised by ransomware. The best practice is to use a Gen 3 serial console with advanced security features, as discussed above.
- Automation and AIOps streamline the incident resolution process by automating RCA and recovery workflows. A Gen 3 OOB serial console solution can integrate or even directly host third-party automation and AIOps tools, ensuring teams always have remote access to their recovery toolkit during an outage or breach.
A secure, Gen 3 OOB serial console ensures 24/7 remote access to edge IoT deployments and supports automation and AIOps for faster security incident resolution.
Challenge #5: Gaining holistic security coverage
A distributed financial services network with many branches, ATMs, edge sites, and IoT devices has a large attack surface, so it requires several different security solutions to cover all potential vulnerabilities. Gaining complete security coverage over every IoT device in every location means deploying many appliances, each of which needs to be installed, patched, and managed, adding a lot of complexity to network and security operations and further increasing the attack surface. The need to orchestrate so many moving pieces increases the risk that security teams will make mistakes and prevent organizations from operating efficiently.
Solution: Unified, vendor-neutral security orchestration
A vendor-neutral security orchestration platform unifies a company’s security solutions and workflows under a single management umbrella. For example, the Nodegrid platform from ZPE Systems can dig its hooks into other vendors’ security appliances and virtual solutions, giving security analysts a holistic overview of the entire architecture from a single centralized portal. Teams can use Nodegrid to orchestrate firewalls, identity and access management (IAM), patches, secure access service edge (SASE), and more.
Nodegrid’s hardware can even directly host third-party security applications for a streamlined, consolidated branch deployment. You can use the Nodegrid platform to build a complete DCIM (data center infrastructure management), network management, and automation orchestration solution, streamlining operations with a truly unified experience.
A vendor-neutral security orchestration platform provides holistic security coverage while reducing complexity, which prevents human error and increases operational efficiency.
IoT in the finance industry and security challenges
Deploying IoT in the finance industry comes with security challenges, including patch management, unsecured management interfaces, policy enforcement, incident resolution, and complexity. The Nodegrid platform provides finance industry solutions to help you overcome each of these challenges, including:
- An open hardware and software platform for IoT patch management, so admins can view, update, and roll-back software versions from a single dashboard.
- Secure management hardware and software protected by robust onboard security features and integrated with SAML 2.0 and advanced authentication methods.
- The ability to host and run Zero Trust Security applications for identity and access control (IAM), Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), and more.
- Gen 3 OOB serial console solutions with 5G support that can integrate or directly host third-party automation and AIOps tools.
A truly vendor-neutral platform that unifies security, network, and infrastructure management behind a single pane of glass for holistic coverage.
Ready to Learn More?
To learn more about deploying IoT in the finance industry and overcoming security challenges with Nodegrid, contact ZPE Systems.