24 May 2022
Boost your IoT device security with certificate lifecycle control to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks
As the Internet of Things continues to grow apace so do the opportunities for hackers to steal data and exploit IoT applications for malicious purposes.
It may seem obvious to encrypt traffic to and from IoT devices, but IoT device security is not a one-time deal and the bigger the network, the more devices there are to consider, and that means more vectors for attack.
In this article, we discuss the importance of authentication and encryption in IoT security and how to minimize the risk of man-in-the-middle attacks with digital certificate management. You might not need encryption to get the job done but can you really afford to live without it? Probably not. Read on to find out more.
When building an IoT application, getting the data from A to B and making sure everything works are the priorities and security can end up being an after-thought. However, when it comes to connecting to enterprise IoT platforms such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon IoT, and Google Cloud IoT Core, you are going to need a secure connection to that platform. To achieve this, these platforms use digital certificates, also known as public key certificates which are generated by the platform and installed on the device to ensure its authenticity and maintain a secure encrypted connection.
No matter how bulletproof you make your devices or applications, your data could potentially still be stolen, or malicious messages could still be sent to the network by way of a man-in-the-middle attack. A man-in-the-middle attack occurs when a malicious party intercepts, modifies and sends data as the original sender, allowing them to steal information from the network or send malicious data.
For example, a hacker could intercept data from temperature sensors on a piece of heavy equipment and send spurious data causing the machine to shut down.
Encryption and digital certificates make it harder for hackers to intercept the data and without one, a device cannot authenticate or communicate with the platform. Further to this, using time-limited certificates means that even if the encryption is broken and a key makes it into the wrong hands, a new certificate can be issued to the device and control can be regained by the rightful owner.
It is all very well authenticating devices with digital certificates but what happens when they expire, or if a device does become compromised? In the simplest terms, you will need to get a new certificate.
While it is simple enough to generate a key and use a laptop or desktop computer, connected to the device, to deliver that certificate, this can present problems for businesses where devices are not easily accessed or spread over a wide area.
Using a digital certificate management system with zero touch provisioning, such as u-blox certificate lifecycle control means network managers no longer need to worry about lapsing digital certificates or having to manually update them. Designed to integrate seamlessly with leading IoT cloud platforms, including AWS IoT Core, Azure IoT Hub, and custom platforms, these services can be easily extended to all IoT platforms that use X.509 certificate-based device authentication.
u-blox certificate lifecycle control combined with zero touch provisioning saves time by worrying about your certificates so that you don’t have to. Find out more about certificate lifecycle control and u-blox IoT Security-as-a-Service in our certificate lifecycle control webinar:
IoT Evangelist - u-blox Services