How to Manage Secure Communications in M2M Environments

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For all the talk of the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications making our lives easier, there always seems to be a cautionary tale involving security of these devices around every corner.

Take self-driving cars – something it seems like almost everyone would want. That is, until last summer, when the cybersecurity community raised a red flag around connected cars, and the possibility that hackers could tap into a vehicle’s network and disrupt its operating system.

The same concerns have followed connected televisions. As of a year ago, smart TVs had taken over about one-third of the flat-screen television market. Then, just last week, news outlets picked up on the possibility that Samsung’s smart televisions could effectively “eavesdrop” on conversations, and that the company could then pass that information along to third parties.

Although these specific examples are recent, questions about network security in M2M communications and the IoT are not new. ZDNet flagged the issue back in January 2013, in an article that posited security concerns could prevent M2M from reaching its full potential.

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Although M2M communications have actually been common for decades, they have never before been quite as widespread as they are now, and they now communicate over the open, public Internet, versus being confined to limited, secure networks. As NetIQ’s Ian Yip told ZDNet, in many cases security is an afterthought – it is something that is a “retrofit” to M2M.

This is a mistake. Security needs to be considered from the very beginning. M2M security is already difficult enough, as human beings aren’t even part of the communications process.

And as the Internet of Things becomes a part of our everyday lives, already infiltrating the workplace, enterprises and network security professionals are left with the challenge of protecting the remote communications between millions of devices in M2M environments. How many millions? By 2017, M2M market volume is expected to reach 470 million modules, according to IDATE.

To manage these devices, network administrators must put reliable remote access solutions in place, especially for business-critical systems. Failure to do so could lead to lost revenue, upset customers or users, and high restoration costs. And in the case of systems that involve sensitive information, secure networks could be a requirement to reach compliance with HIPAA, PCI or SOX.

The road to reaching secure M2M communications is a long one. Administrators have to consider which connection methods are the right fit for their applications, how to configure end devices so they can perform authentication steps, and how to manage VPN configurations and updates without human interaction.

But once they get there, network administrators will help unlock a whole, secure world of IoT and M2M communications – with reduced risk of a security breach.

Read More:

The Internet of Vulnerable Things: Why Remote Access Security is Critical
Are Connected Cars on a Collision Course with Network Security?


To learn more, join NCP engineering and Julian Weinberger, CISSP, Director of Systems Engineering, for the webinar, “Managing Secure Communications in M2M Environments,” Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 2 p.m. EST. Attendees will also receive a free copy of our white paper on the same topic:

Secure M2M Communication

In Managing Secure Communications in M2M Environments, we cover:

– How to choose a connection method that’s right for your application.
– How to configure end devices so they can perform authentication steps.
– How to manage VPN configurations and updates without human interaction.

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