Direct Inbound Network Access (DINA)

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Direct Inbound Network Access (DINA)

The Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionised the way we interact with technology and the world around us. It is a vast network of interconnected devices, objects, and sensors that communicate and exchange data over the internet. From smart meters and vehicle trackers to industrial automation and point of sale systems, IoT’s seamless integration empowers us with unprecedented efficiency, convenience, and insight.

By enabling devices to collect, analyse, and act upon real-time data, IoT enhances everyday life, propels businesses forward, and fosters sustainable solutions. As this transformative technology continues to evolve, its potential to reshape industries and enhance connectivity remains boundless.

Ensuring secure access to IoT  devices is crucial due to the potential risks associated with unauthorised access, data breaches, and privacy violations. Without proper security expertise wrap-around, these interconnected devices often lack robust security measures, making them vulnerable to cyber threats.

Ensuring secure access involves implementing strong authentication, encryption, and regular software updates. However, achieving this can be challenging because IoT devices vary widely in terms of manufacturers, protocols, and security features. Additionally, managing security across numerous devices, often deployed in diverse locations, and over time, requires significant effort and coordination. Overcoming these challenges is vital to safeguarding sensitive data, maintaining user trust, and fostering the continued growth of IoT technologies.

Direct Inbound Network Access (DINA), designed internally by Pelion can solve the following issues for customers:

  • Challenges in remote device access for field engineers
  • Secure ad hoc access needed for teams with diverse access and locations
  • Access requirements for specific devices within a large, interconnected inventory

Key features of DINA revolve around enabling global SIM access via a secure and reliable, cost-effective connectivity with a fault-tolerant design. This makes it a useful addition for connecting to IoT devices.

Considerations when Accessing IoT Devices

Accessing IoT devices securely is crucial to protect against cybersecurity threats and maintain data integrity and user privacy. IoT devices are interconnected objects that collect and exchange data over a wireless network, and they can lack robust security measures due to either hardware or software limitations.

Without additional security, malicious actors can exploit vulnerabilities in IoT devices, gaining unauthorised access to sensitive data, controlling devices remotely, or launching large-scale cyberattacks. Breaches can lead to significant consequences, including personal information leaks, financial losses, and disruptions and breakage of critical infrastructure.

This is why Pelion developed DINA.

It provides the ability to access devices from a remote location in a secure way without exposing the device to the unfiltered internet.

IoT Devices have a wide range of user interfaces, ranging from a web-based Graphical User Interface (GUI) to configuration via Command-Line Interfaces (CLIs) accessible over various IP protocols. Access to these at-times-remote devices can be troublesome unless a device is connected directly to the internet and perhaps via a Virtual Private Network (VPN). In certain instances, being able to access to device for effective troubleshooting, securely configurating, and or access applications can create challenges for businesses.

Pelion understands these challenges and have introduced a DINA as an effective solution to allow its customers the ability to access their devices from any location in the world securely, reliably and with ease.

 

Introduction to Pelion’s DINA

DINA is a proprietary technology designed by Pelion to provide a secure and convenient way for customers to establish a direct connection to their devices from any location in the world.

DINA gives the customer access to their subscriber base via the Pelion Connectivity Management (PCM) Platform.

It combines the convenience of fixed public IP addressing with many of the security advantages of a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

The clever construct means that although you are connecting via a Public IP, which could be deemed risky, it is only used in creating a secure association to a private IP address via our DINA client.

In very technical terms, this means the customer can access their device by searching for the device, also referred to as a subscriber with Pelion Connectivity Management Platform. Using DINA is as simple as adding connectivity to a webpage and can also be used in conjunction with a range of protocols including Secure Shell (SSH) for more complex applications.

The trouble with fixed public Internet Protocol Addresses (IPs) is that can be accessed from anywhere. This leads to situations where unsolicited access can run up substantial data charges without the user’s knowledge. Fixed public IP addressing is also not resilient to network or provider failures, a fixed public IP addresses allocated to a single provider and is typically announced from a single point, using DINA you are granter remote access via a pool of resilient IPs from one of our different POPs. DINA is substantially more fault tolerant than a single public IP address.

DINA was developed to address these shorting comings. Utilising DINA offers significantly enhanced security, flexibility and resilience compared to employing a public fixed IP address.

 

Features and Benefits of DINA

In summary. DINA delivers the following benefits to Pelion customers

  • Global SIM Access
    As DINA assigns your private SIM with a temporary secure IP address. This means that you can access your device remotely via its web page, from any location in the world, privately.
  • Secure, Reliable, Cost-Effective Connectivity
    DINA is inherently more secure, reliable, and cost-effective than alternative services such as fixed public IP addressing. DINA access is restricted and only connects to external sources that have requested an association via the PCM platform. Any access attempts from unauthorised sources are automatically blocked.
  • Fault-Tolerant Design
    DINA provides customers with a higher level of fault tolerance than fixed public IP addressing since users are assigned a public IP from one of Pelion’s multiple points of presence. This safeguards against Pelion customers losing connectivity due to a network or provider failure and ensures that DINA is more fault-tolerant than single provider fixed public IP addressing.

 

Frequent problems that can be solved with DINA

DINA can aid in solving numerous challenges within the IoT landscape.

Some circumstances where DINA can be an effective solution are:

  • When it is not feasible for an engineer to remotely access a device via a secure network or pre-existing VPN.
  • Where multiple team members require secure access to various times and locations.
  • If a team needs access to the web interface of a specific device amid an extensive inventory of interconnected devices.
  • When an application needs to connect via an internet accessible IP address and a VPN is not suitable.

DINA delivers the ability to associate a device with a public IP address and allows authenticated users to access device remotely, via a webpage or other device GUI. It is the perfect solution for:

  • If a device has a management page, it enables engineers to access it privately via a web browser.
  • Allowing users to view a surveillance camera over the internet.
  • Establishing a connection with device ad hoc via SSH or other IP protocol via a public IP.
  • Access is controlled while user is logged on to the Pelion platform and removed once they log out or after a period of inactivity.

Note that DINA is not a VPN and as such it does not provide traffic encryption. If traffic encryption is required, Pelion recommends that OpenVPN or IPSec (IP security) is used.

To learn more about how to stay well-connected with Pelion VPNs, click here to access an overview. 

Use Case Involving DINA: – Company X for Reference

NOTE: The company name has been anonymised for the protection of privacy. Throughout this case study we shall refer to them as Company X.

Company X operates within the security industry, offering services related to access control, surveillance systems, and security solutions. They focus on providing secure access to various premises, protecting assets, and ensuring safety through advanced technologies and professional expertise.

Company X focuses on Security solutions that are backed up by their accreditations such as SSIP, SafeContractor, Achilles, CHAS, Acclaim Accreditation and more.

Any remote access must be provided by a technology and a technology provider that can be a secured and trusted partner in their supply chain. One of the key requirements for company X is ad hoc access to their assets such as surveillance and other security devices.

Pelion’s DINA solution complements this customer’s connected camera solution as it allows for remote access to the device to perform key business activities such as:

  • Rebooting the device when required
  • Changing device settings such as repositioning of cameras
  • Downloading footage uploaded from a bodycam with a SIM to the cloud or other location

To learn more about DINA and how it can be useful to your IoT deployment, Get in touch with the Pelion team today.

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