The Internet of Things (IoT) is exploding into the mainstream, even as the broader role of mobile applications in the enterprise expands. But concerns about mobile and IoT security are emerging even more rapidly.
The challenge, in a nutshell, is that there are currently no clear lines of responsibility when it comes to IoT and mobile security. Applications are developed and pushed out into the marketplace by their vendors with little or no attention given to security. These apps then pour into organizations that often fail to manage them, and indeed are largely unsure of what apps are being used in their workplaces.
In short, the problems with mobile and IoT security are likely to get worse before they get better.
Who’s in Charge?
A recent study by the Ponemon Institute, IBM Security and Arxan revealed the scope of the challenge and the related difficulties that enterprises are experiencing. According to Infosec Island, “confusion of who owns security within the development, testing and implementation process remains in question.”
A majority of organizations (53 percent) reported concern about being breached via mobile devices, while a slightly larger majority (58 percent) said they worry about being compromised through IoT apps. Meanwhile, 44 percent of organizations admitted they are taking no protective measures, and 11 percent reported uncertainty about whether they are doing so. Doubt, in this case, is not a confidence builder.
This uncertainty, especially on the mobile side, extends to how many apps are in use within the organization. A full 75 percent of respondents indicated that they are not confident in their awareness of the apps their employees are using. Of these, half, or 37 percent of the total, reported “no confidence” on this subject. Other survey results reinforced a picture of uncertainty and passivity.
Rush to Market Leaves Security in the Dust
If there is little consensus about how to handle these challenges, there is considerable consensus about their causes. More than two-thirds of respondents (69 percent) said that mobile apps are shipped with poor security because development teams are pressured to get them out the door. Three-quarters cited this as the cause of vulnerable IoT applications as well.
Further complicating the security picture is uncertainty about who owns — or should own — IoT and mobile security. Only 5 percent of respondents said they regard the CISO has having primary responsibility for IoT security. Instead, the majority of respondents pointed to either the head of engineering or to lines of business.
Prioritizing IoT Security
The two challenges that stand out are the fragmentation of the mobile and IoT marketplaces, and the pressures that lead app developers to regard security as an afterthought. As a basic principle of good design, security needs to be incorporated from the beginning of development, not bolted on afterwards.
A large, fluid and competitive marketplace is very good at innovating technologies and bringing them to consumers. But IoT security and mobile security are being left by the wayside, producing risks that will only grow until the security community and the marketplace demand action.
Download the Ponemon Institute 2017 State of Mobile and IoT Application Security Study
Rick Robinson is a writer and blogger, with a current 'day job' focus on the tech industry and a particular interest in the interplay of tech-driven factors ...