Strengthening IoT Security through Role-Based User Authentication Frameworksby@rakesh-soni

Strengthening IoT Security through Role-Based User Authentication Frameworks

by Rakesh SoniMay 6th, 2024
Read on Terminal Reader
Read this story w/o Javascript
tldt arrow

Too Long; Didn't Read

IoT security hinges on robust authentication mechanisms. Role-based authentication frameworks are pivotal in safeguarding IoT ecosystems from cyber threats. Learn about authentication and authorization in IoT, the risks of weak security, and the three main authentication models – one-way distributed, two-way distributed, and three-way centralized authentication. Strengthen IoT security with tailored authentication solutions.
featured image - Strengthening IoT Security through Role-Based User Authentication Frameworks
Rakesh Soni HackerNoon profile picture

Enterprises delivering IoT solutions have unlocked new potentials and are enjoying success with the trend of increasing IoT adoption worldwide.

However, while IoT developers and vendors emphasize delivering unparalleled convenience and efficiency, security is often overlooked. And that’s what requires immediate attention.

Whether we talk about smart wearables, home assistants, or industrial automation systems, the IoT landscape has broadened the horizons for cybercriminals, making security a top priority for vendors.

For the security of this interconnected ecosystem, robust role-based authentication frameworks have become an absolute necessity.

Let’s understand how role-based user authentication frameworks reinforce IoT security and why businesses must put their best foot forward to adopt it.

What is Authentication and Authorization in IoT?

Authentication and authorization are the most crucial components of IoT security. Developers and vendors must prioritize them to ensure sensitive information is always shielded.

While authentication verifies the identity of devices, users, and applications attempting to access IoT systems, authorization determines what resources or actions a verified device, application, or user can access within the IoT network.

Once the identity is verified, access to network resources is offered based on the user’s role or privileges, preventing unauthorized access to sensitive data.

In a nutshell, authentication and authorization lay the foundation for a robust security framework to prevent privacy and data breaches.

Though most IoT vendors and developers have incorporated robust mechanisms to safeguard sensitive data, many still rely on conventional legacy systems that aren’t potent enough to shield against modern threat vectors.

Here’s where enterprises offering IoT services need to rethink their security strategy by keeping customers at the center of their business strategy.

Why is Robust Authentication and Authorization in IoT a Pressing Need?

In this digital world, where we’re constantly surrounded by the aura of multiple devices, applications, and networks, secure authentication and authorization have become critical.

Talking about the IoT landscape, weak authentication and authorization could lead to severe consequences that compromise users’ privacy and the security of service providers.

Here’s the list of consequences that may occur in the presence of inadequate security measures in the IoT ecosystem:

Privacy Breach: Weak authentication could lead to unauthorized access to individuals that may breach individual privacy. Most users may face issues about unauthorized surveillance, data breaches, or device hijacking.

Data Breach: Businesses may end up losing millions of dollars just because they didn’t incorporate a robust authentication security mechanism into their IoT services. Data loss, including sensitive business details and customer information, could be compromised which may entitle businesses to hefty fines.

IoT Botnet Formation: Sometimes weak authentication leads to IoT botnet creation that further leads to coordinated attacks. The botnets are controlled by cybercriminals and can be used for DDoS attacks, which impact the overall system within an organization.

Understanding Role-Based User Authentication and its Models

Just like a user authenticates himself by proving his/her identity online on a platform to make a purchase or to access his/her account, authentication in IoT works similarly for devices and applications.

The entire authentication process involves the identification of devices/apps and authorizing them with permission to access resources or information based on their specific roles. This ensures that devices/apps have access and permissions to do what they need and the non-authorized devices and apps can’t access sensitive information.

Depending on the location, device type, and role, organizations can have multiple ways to authenticate and authorize IoT devices and applications for data access

Though IoT administrators register each device or application while deploying it on the system, certain devices and applications can be further added, and their roles can be later defined by the user.

Let’s have a look at user authentication models to deploy role-based authentication in the IoT ecosystem.

1. One-Way Distributed Authentication

One-way distributed authentication represents a connection between two devices. This can be either a smart device, a wearable, or a sensor that tries to connect with the gateway.

In this communication, only one device authenticates the other via password hash. In some cases, the authentication is established through a digital certificate. Once a device initiates the authentication request, the other devices authenticate it by comparing the certificate or password with stored information.

Once the information matches, the second device authorizes the connection.

2. Two-Way Distributed Authentication

In two-way distributed authentication, both devices authenticate each other before sharing any sensitive information or even communicating.

This kind of authentication is commonly known as mutual authentication and this protocol is preferred when each of the communicating devices has a unique digital identity that is stored in the system for other devices.

The connection in this authentication mode is established only when one of the devices trusts the other device’s identity through a digital certificate and vice versa. This kind of authentication is widely preferred for highly sensitive information transfer, including banking, e-commerce, or other financial transactions.

3. Three-Way Centralized Authentication

The three-way centralized authentication approach emphasizes on registering the devices to a central server or authority.

This central authority initiates a secure connection between the devices that need to communicate to ensure no unauthorized individual has access to sensitive information. The entire process is managed seamlessly through a dedicated certificate management system.

Apart from this, the security certificates aren’t stored on the devices and can’t be compromised. This centralized authentication is best suited for devices that require frequent connection or are always connected.

To Conclude

With the increasing sophistication of IoT attacks and cybercriminals finding new ways to exploit sensitive business data, relying on conventional security mechanisms isn’t a great option.

IoT vendors and developers need to rethink their security posture to ensure they’re on the right track to securing sensitive customer data and their confidential business information.

On the other hand, leveraging the true potential of a role-based user authentication framework could be the best way to reinforce authentication security. Enterprises can eventually choose their preferred authentication model based on their business needs and ensure the highest level of protection.