NewsOctober 5, 2017 @ 3:25 PM

IoT Security Has a Growing Effect on Public Key Infrastructure, Survey Says

Public key infrastructure (PKI) has long been used in connected devices for authentication, digital signing and encryption. In its “2017 PKI Global Trends Study,” the Ponemon Institute talked to more than 1,500 IT security practitioners worldwide to determine where PKI is heading in 2017 and beyond.

Tracking the Evolution of Public Key Infrastructure

The report showed that while the majority of respondents (54 percent) felt that the cloud was the most important trend driving the deployment of PKI-enabled applications, the Internet of Things (IoT) was close behind at 40 percent, a number that has doubled in the past three years, according to Dark Reading. Meanwhile, 36 percent of respondents cited new applications, including the IoT, as the fastest-growing area of PKI evolution.

This response fits with how the survey participants viewed the overall IoT structure. Within the next two years, the report found, 43 percent of IoT devices will adopt digital certificates for authentication. Additionally, 43 percent of respondents said they expect IoT devices to be supported by PKIs that comprise both cloud- and enterprise-based components.

PKI Is Key to Our Connected Future

Of course, an organization’s PKI usage covers more areas than just IoT. The study found that PKIs will be used to support, on average, more than eight different applications within an enterprise, including SSL certificates, virtual private networks (VPNs), public cloud apps and authentication mechanisms.

The study also revealed that multifactor authentication (59 percent) and physical security (47 percent) are the two most widely used practices companies employ to secure PKI and certificate authorities (CAs). Thirty-six percent of respondents indicated that they use hardware security modules (HSMs) to manage private keys for root/policy/issuing CAs, while 30 percent reported that they use smart cards for this function. Finally, 43 percent of survey participants said they hired specialists to manage their organization’s private keys.

“Smart organizations have determined that successful IoT deployment rests on trust being established from the beginning, and they’re leaning on their PKI as one component for building that trust,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, according to Help Net Security. Overall, the results of the survey showed that PKI technology is well-positioned to serve organizations’ security needs as their IoT deployments expand and mature.

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Larry Loeb

Principal, PBC Enterprises

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek. He wrote for IBM's DeveloperWorks site for seven years and has written a book on the Secure Electronic Transaction Internet protocol. His latest book has the commercially obligatory title of Hack Proofing XML. He's been online since uucp "bang" addressing (where the world existed relative to !decvax), serving as editor of the Macintosh Exchange on BIX and the VARBusiness Exchange.