June 9, 2020

One Thing Too Many: Today's IoT Asset Tracking Challenges

Raise your hand if you feel prepared for the domination of the Internet of Things (IoT).

No?

Well, you’re not alone. 

Our recent research survey with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) found that less than half of IT and cybersecurity professionals feel confident in their ability to account for and track IoT assets — and we’re still on the cusp of the true IoT explosion.

So let’s talk IoT and what this trend implies for cyber teams in the immediate future.

What is the IoT explosion?

It’s difficult to comprehend just how much the advent of IoT may impact IT more broadly and cybersecurity more specifically. 

Sure, we can toss around some numbers like “500 billion IoT devices by 2030” — but it isn’t easy to picture what that will actually look like.

IoT is also an incredibly broad term. IoT refers to physical devices with digital components that can transmit data across some sort of network. That includes everything from Alexa-enabled light bulbs, to security cameras, to smart agriculture.

We may not have experienced a true IoT explosion yet, but the trend has definitely begun. At least 25% of businesses already use IoT technology; our research with ESG found that 55% of companies have an active IoT project.

The long and short of all this is that in the next few years, every organization, worker, and consumer will have a plethora of devices connected to their networks.

What does this mean for IoT asset tracking?

The subtext for security teams? The arrival of widespread IoT adoption means increased asset diversity as well as volume. 

And those two factors create significant complexity challenges for cybersecurity teams.

It’s a simple rule in IT asset management: the more device types you have, the more tools you need to track, manage, and secure them. 

When every piece of hardware doubles as an IoT asset, this issue becomes more pronounced.

Asset tracking challenges — already substantial for tasks as fundamental as device inventories — are going to multiply rapidly once IoT assets become the norm. The thing is, IoT asset tracking is already tough. We found that 77% of organizations report an IoT asset visibility gap, with device diversity as one of the most significant challenges.

Here’s a simplified overview of what this all means:

  1. The rise of IoT will lead to roughly seven devices for every person on Earth within the decade.
  2. Nearly every device that companies use will be connected to a network.
  3. That means asset proliferation on a whole new scale. And every single IoT asset will have to be tracked and secured.
  4. Teams are already struggling to track these assets with traditional methods.
  5. This is causing substantial visibility and security concerns.

To get ahead of the IoT curve, cybersecurity teams must work toward a better way to track IoT assets. Companies that act now will be more confident in their ability to weather the inevitable changes of the IoT era.

How do we address IoT asset tracking challenges?

The key takeaway from this change is that IoT assets, in and of themselves, don’t pose an entirely new challenge for asset tracking.

They simply magnify existing challenges.

Therefore, the best approach isn’t to come up with a whole new way to track IoT assets, or even to invest in a tool that specializes in that type of tracking (if it existed).

Instead, it’s to rethink the fundamentals of how we track assets in general.

After all, asset tracking is fundamental to most cybersecurity, such as discovering and closing gaps in your security policy enforcement. Most companies have already recognized this need and are boosting investment into asset management.

If asset tracking were easy, the IoT expansion would be an opportunity, rather than a threat.

To explore how we can achieve that ideal state, we partnered with TAG Cyber to survey enterprise CISOs with two simple questions:

  1. What is your biggest concern with asset management?
  2. In a perfect world, what benefit would your asset management program offer?

We covered these findings in our recent webinar, Modern Asset Management in a Perfect World, and share how we can optimize asset tracking for the upcoming IoT challenge.

Watch the on-demand webinar now.

 

Axonius Mark - PMS

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