Guide to IPSEC used in IoT

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Guide to IPSec used in IoT

 By definition, the Internet of Things (IoT) connects devices and systems, enabling them to share data over the internet. This technology is used in various sectors like transport, building management and smart homes. As the number of connected devices grow and as online hacking and other security risks grows alongside, so does the need for secure communication between devices and the systems in which they operate.

Security Needs in IoT

The more devices you connect, the more security risks you face. In our Guide to IoT at Scale, we outline the challenges and considerations that IoT technology users should consider as they grow, like unauthorised access and data breaches become significant concerns. Effective security measures are essential, especially when you have many varied devices you’d like to talk to using a private network.

Each IoT solution comes as a stack of technology that connects to create a full solution. End to End security should be considered from the devices at the edge of the network all the way through the cloud and to the web front end that delivers the dashboard. At every technology intersection there is an opportunity for security breaches. That being said, private public cellular networks are some of the most secure in the whole IoT networks provision. 50 years of technology development, overlaid with increasingly sophisticated security technology investment ensures that there are common security standards and that best practices are adopted almost everywhere.

Pelion prides itself on it’s high levels of security. In fact, in addition to its ISO 27001 accreditation, the whole Pelion Connectivity Management platform was built by an expert team, suitable for banking. More about that later.

Many of the security challenges experienced by companies using IoT technology today, sit with the configuration and set up as well as the devices and sensors used to collect the data.

Key IoT Device Security Challenges

  • Weak Device Encryption: One of the most prominent security issues in IoT, is the absence of encryption in some devices. Without strong encryption algorithms, these devices become easy targets for cybercriminals who can intercept and manipulate the device and the data being transmitted and received. This poses a significant risk, both for applications that handle sensitive or confidential information but also for general IoT applications that malfunction or stop functioning if they are hacked, removing the value they were installed to bring.
  • Device Compatibility: In an IoT solution, devices often come from multiple manufacturers. They each come with their own set of security protocols. This diversity can lead to compatibility issues, making it challenging to establish a generic approach to secure communication between devices. The result is a fragmented security set up that, at worst, can be exploited by cybercriminals to gain unauthorised access or compromise data.
  • Lack of Device Updates: Many IoT devices suffer from infrequent or entirely absent security updates. Manufacturers may release a product but fail to provide ongoing support in the form of security patches or firmware updates. This leaves devices vulnerable to new types of threats that emerge over time, reducing the overall security posture of the IoT network.

What is IPSec?

IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) is a protocol suite that encrypts and authenticates data at the IP layer. It’s commonly used in Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to secure internet communication. IPSec operates by creating secure tunnels between network endpoints, ensuring that data sent through these tunnels is protected, confidential and unchanged. IPSec uses two modes: Tunnel and Transport Mode. In tunnel mode, the entire IP packet, including both the header and payload, is encrypted and encapsulated within another IP packet, making it secure from end to end. In Transport Mode where only the payload (data) of the IP packet is encrypted while the original IP header remains intact. This mode is typically used when end-to-end encryption between IoT devices is not required, such as when communicating with a gateway

Pelion’s IPSec services are customisable to fit your specific needs.

Pelion’s Security Solutions

Pelion focuses on essential pillars: scalability, simplicity, security and reliability. Our centralised system oversees device connectivity, ensuring that every connection adheres to stringent security protocols. Pelion’s IPSec solutions are at the forefront of industry standards by regularly updating security measures and conducting audits, ensuring that our solutions meet and exceed industry benchmarks.

Pelion’s IPSec Options

We offer three main IPSec configurations:

Policy-Based IPSec: Good for simple site-to-site communications, it routes traffic based on set policies.

This is standard option for businesses that require basic site-to-site connectivity. In this setup, traffic is routed based on policies defined by specific IP address ranges. This makes it easier to set up and manage, especially for businesses with straightforward networking needs. However, it’s less flexible when it comes to handling more complex routing scenarios.

Due to the limitation of the technology itself we are not able to offer resilience via BGP or any other routing technologies.

GRE over IPSec: GRE over IPSec is an earlier iteration of a route-based Ipsec (See VTI IPsec) which combines the routing capabilities of GRE (Generic Routing Encapsulation) tunnels with the security features of IPSec. This combination is particularly useful where complex routing is required and support a customer endpoint does not yet support VTI. GRE over IPSec supports the transmission of routing protocol traffic and multicast traffic over the VPN, something that is not directly supported by policy-based IPSec. Additionally, GRE over IPSec can facilitate resilience using technologies such as BGP – something Policy Base Ipsecs cannot.

VTI (Virtual Tunnel Interface) IPSec (Preferred Option): Usually deployed as a pair of IPsecs.
This is designed for businesses with more complex routing requirements. Unlike Policy-Based IPSec, VTI IPSec uses a tunnel interface for each end of the. tunnel. This allows for greater flexibility in routing traffic, as it’s not tied to specific policies. Instead BGP can be used to route traffic across either of the two tunnels and failover of traffic can easily be controlled.

Get a quote for Pelion’s Security Services offering, tailored for you

Benefits of Using Pelions IPSec Solutions

Data Integrity
One of the primary advantages of using Pelion’s IPSec solutions is the assurance that your data will remain intact during transmission. This is crucial for applications where even a minor alteration in data can lead to significant problems, such as in healthcare or financial transactions.

Authentication
Pelion’s IPSec solutions include robust authentication mechanisms that validate the identity of the data sources. This is particularly important in IoT environments where multiple devices are interconnected. Knowing that each device is genuinely what it claims to be can prevent unauthorised access and potential breaches.

Confidentiality
Our IPSec solutions encrypt data during transit, ensuring that sensitive information is not exposed to unauthorised entities. This is vital for businesses that handle confidential data, such as customer information or proprietary research.

Scalability
As your business grows, so will your network. Pelion’s IPSec solutions are designed to scale with your needs, making it easier to add more devices or establish new network connections without compromising on security.

Reliability
With Pelion’s IPSec, you get a reliable, always-on secure connection. This is essential for businesses that require constant uptime and can’t afford network interruptions.

Customisation
Pelion offers a range of IPSec configurations, allowing businesses to choose the setup that best suits their specific needs. Whether you require simple site-to-site connections or more complex routing solutions, there’s an IPSec option for you.

Compliance
Many industries have strict regulatory requirements for data security. Using Pelion’s IPSec solutions can help you meet these compliance standards, reducing the risk of legal complications.

A great example:

One of Pelion’s existing customers, a leading smart home solutions provider, faced challenges in ensuring secure communication between its field devices such as smart metres and its cloud-based endpoints. With multiple products from different manufacturers, secure and consistent connectivity to a private network became a challenge. They came to Pelion for a comprehensive IPSec VPN solutions. By implementing Pelion’s policy-based IPSec, the company could securely transmit data between hundreds of devices and central servers, ensuring customer data was private and the devices were able to transmit easily within the tunnels. This not only bolstered the company’s reputation while giving them peace of mind but also allowed it to scale its operations more efficiently.

If you’d like a similar solution for your company, get in touch


The importance of security in the IoT landscape cannot be understated. With the increasing number of connected devices, ensuring secure communication becomes paramount. Pelion’s IPSec solutions offer businesses the peace of mind that their data and devices are secure. Using Pelion’s various types of IPSec offerings, clients can be assured of state-of-the-art IPSec solutions that not only cater to diverse needs but also set industry standards.

 

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