How Will Encryption Keep Internet of Things Data Secure?

How Will Encryption Keep Internet of Things Data Secure?

By Shehwar Ali

The idea of the Internet of Things, that everyday objects can connect to one another and transfer data, is fascinating and mesmerizing.  With the exponential amount of data accumulated and transferred, the main question for businesses besides what to do with all of this data, is how to protect Internet of Things data from hackers and malicious software?

What Type of Data Have Hackers Been Able to Access?

The internet has fallen a prey to hackers several times. Some attacks have been on a small scale, targeting individuals or small businesses while others have spammed across countries and billion dollar enterprises. Organizations, websites and businesses like Spamhaus (the international organization responsible for tracking cyber threats and spams), Sony, the health insurer Anthem, Inc., the Ashley Madison website (for extramarital affairs) and the United States Office of Personnel Management, in addition to many others, have fallen victim to massive security breaches and hackers.

What Is the Best Way to Protect Data?

The most effective way of data security is encryption. In encryption, the information to be communicated or transferred is encoded or encrypted using an encryption algorithm. The unencrypted data is called ‘plain text’. After encryption, it is called ‘cipher text’. The cipher text can only be decrypted using a specific key or password that is confidential between the sending and receiving parties. Without decryption, you can never read the data. Encryption, thus, cannot prevent the data from interception itself. However, if the message is intercepted in the cloud or Internet of Things transfer by an unauthorized party, encryption can prevent the leakage of the information.

How is Data Encrypted?

There are two different ways of encrypting data transmitted through the Internet of Things. One is symmetric and the other is asymmetric. In symmetric encryption, the sender and receiver utilize an identical key to encode and decode the data respectively. While in asymmetric, two keys are used: One is public (known to everyone maintained in a global registry of public keys) and the other is private (the secret key only known to the receiver). Relatively, asymmetric encryption is more secure than symmetric encryption. But, there are certain limitations to it as well.

We log onto several different networks daily like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Gmail, etc. Take the example of Facebook. We are asked for a user ID and a password while logging in. That is, in fact, an example of encryption. Our data sitting on a Facebook server (suppose in California) is sent to us through the internet on our request. We receive it in an encrypted form. With the help of our Facebook ID and password we decrypt the data and become able to access our account. On a governmental and military level, the need of data security is higher due to the sensitivity and the amount of data generated.

Data Security and IoT: An Inseparable Pair

Encryption is everywhere. In addition to software-based security systems, hardware-based security systems are also introduced which prevent read and write access to data on the disk, thus making our data more secure. In the midst of the upcoming IoT revolution, data security is of the utmost significance to keep all our information safe and sound from hackers.

Internet of Things Event:

Interested in learning more about Internet of Things? PreScouter is hosting an IoT event with GE Healthcare on October 6, 2016 in Chicago, IL. Use code: PreScouterHelpsInnovate to register for free. 

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