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With IoT Security to Protect Data, It’s Critical to See the Forest for the Trees

With IoT Security to Protect Data, It’s Critical to See the Forest for the Trees

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Guest post by Nathan Turajski, Data Security 

If you’ve read my previous blogs, you’ll know that I’m fond of analogies to help illustrate concepts. In this latest below, I’ll be drawing parallels on how to solve a problem in a way that addresses the root issue, as we see with IoT security when it comes to the real risks to the crown jewels—protecting the data from the device itself. 

You may have heard the expression of someone who, “can’t see the forest for the trees,” meaning, so wrapped up in details that the bigger picture is missed. And this can be true with IoT security, so let me explain, along with some picturesque flora. You see, the trees are like all of your IoT devices—such as smart phones with user data or even connected cars providing vehicle updates on health and location. Whereas the forest is when all those devices are looked at as a whole. With me so far?  

Forest1.jpgNow, a lumber mill looking to protect its asset wouldn’t be looking at the value of simply one tree—they’d want to protect the entire forest to support a long-term business, in essence, the total value of the lumber for harvesting. And with IoT, it’s really not all that different. While it’s certainly important that your devices individually are not being compromised, rarely is the exposure of data on a single device the critical risk for a modern business. It’s when all that data comes together to increase your risk exposure does the value and threat increase—and much like a forest, that’s precisely what happens today when IoT is feeding massive volumes of data into a modern-day data lake, such as Hadoop or a data warehouse. 

Much like a lumber mill, companies are seeking to “harvest” all this data to derive insights about business health, and understand customer trending opportunities. But gathering all of this data in one place is just as dangerous as a forest—where a forest fire, much like a massive data breach, can wipe out the economy. 

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

A funny thing happens when winter comes, though. The snow-covered trees are less at risk of a fire and yet can still be harvested. The interesting thing about a snow-covered forest is you can still tell some things about it as a whole—how high are all those trees on average? If I want to focus on value creation, I can still clearly determine whether these are mature or new seedlings from determining height. But the snow might restrict me from more detail about the individual trees, what color, what sort of bark, sap bleeding and other individual attributes. Interesting how that works.  

Forest2.jpgWhen it comes down to it, the value of the forest is much like the value of your IoT device data in a lake, when all that massive body of data is captured for value creation. But much like the snow, we don’t need to know everything about your data if there are sensitive elements worth protecting. And with Voltage SecureData, we give you a comprehensive way to “make it snow” year-round to protect the data attributes that must remain confidential, while enabling analytic insights as a whole. 

Voltage does this with advanced, high-performance Hyper Format-Preserving Encryption for data. With IoT, you may have cell phone subscriber records that reveal non-sensitive data such as a geographic location and data consumption, but when optimizing a cell network, you do NOT need to know a subscriber’s name. You care about anonymous usage trends that might indicate peak data periods in a metro area or how many subscribers could benefit from upgrading their plan based on applications. By getting very specific with de-identification of sensitive attribute fields, you open up a world of opportunity on the aggregated data, instead. You could even outsource your analytics to a cloud-based third-party, knowing your records—even if breached—will not reveal individual attributes you deemed confidential, once protected. 

Hopefully with IoT, you can see a little bit more clearly the “forest for the trees” through this example. By protecting data at the point it’s ingested into your data lake, SecureData gives you the controls to better realize business opportunities, without the risks when exposed to a wide range of applications. Much like our forest being shielded from a fire or revealing their individual attributes, SecureData gives you the blanket coverage to achieve more value with the protection you need. 

Contact Micro Focus to learn more!

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