How IoT Infrastructure Factors into Data Security and What That Means For You

What can you truly do to prevent and deal with cyber attacks? The answer is right here in these primary IoT principles.

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is transforming traditional industries and providing unprecedented amounts of data to provide world-altering information to all users and adopters. However, the IoT is also vulnerable to security breaches and the ensuing storm. This is especially true in business and enterprise, where a data breach could mean exposing not just your organization’s data but also sensitive data related to your customers and clientele.

Inherently, connected and publicly accessible devices come with a series of vulnerability risks. But the real issues are an inadequate series of regulations for data security and privacy in the field and a lack of preparedness on the part of users. What happens, for example, when a device is compromised and the data contained within is absconded? Who is to blame? What should be done to protect those affected, and how can we make sure it doesn’t happen again?


Furthermore, who owns the data being collected and processed? When consumers are involved, is it the person for whom the data is about? Is it the company collecting the data? Is it the manufacturer of the IoT device or equipment in use?

You can see that the matter of security and privacy is about more than just locking down the technology and preventing unauthorized access. It’s about how the devices are used, as well as what’s being done with the data they create. And more importantly, how we — as a society — secure that data.

Prepare for an event

The more obvious security concern relates to a data breach or cyber attack. At this point, it’s better to look at them as inevitable. Not only should you never be lax with your security and preventative measures, but also understand that, at some point, you will most likely experience an attack. Which means, dealing with the aftermath of a breach and developing a proper risk assessment plan — that covers before, during and after an attack — are equally necessary.

Too many of us focus on just the preventative side of the equation, which does nothing during and after an event.

Instead, a more robust security plan is in order. This means establishing monitoring tools to see who’s on your network and what they’re doing at all times. You must also have a way to prevent or block both unauthorized and legitimate users. Sometimes a trusted user’s account or device is being leveraged by hackers.

Additionally, measures must be deployed to secure the sensitive data involved, eliminate access to it during a breach, and understand what content — and why — is being targeted.

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Securing your network: Mind IoT data principles

While dealing with IoT data and information, there are several questions you must ask before deploying any equipment on your network.

Should data remain private and be securely stored?
Does this data need to be accurate and trustworthy — free from tampering or outside influence?
Is the timely arrival of the data vital to operations?
Should the device(s) or hardware be restricted to select personnel?
Should the firmware or device software be kept up-to-date?
Is device ownership dynamic and will there need to be complex permissions?
Is it necessary to audit the data and systems in use regularly?
Answering these questions will determine exactly what kind of security measures and protocols you put in place. If devices are restricted to select users, you will need to deploy an authentication system that can both identify and provide access based on a series of explicit permissions.

It’s also worth mentioning that many of these principles are related to one another. Restricting user access, for instance, would call for dynamic ownership, complex permissions, and data encryption to prevent unauthorized data viewing or manipulation.

All too often, we take it for granted that the data is flowing freely and securely between systems or devices and that it’s being housed in a protected way. The sad truth is that proper security is an exception more than it is a rule, as evidenced by so many recent and historic data breaches.

Minimizing damage during an event

As with any conventional business it outsourcing services infrastructure, an IoT network must undergo routine maintenance and monitoring to ensure that issues are handled swiftly. Any and all network devices must be kept up-to-date with the latest security patches. Only authorized users must be allowed to access highly-sensitive data, and they must be knowledgeable and aware of basic security protocols. Finally, the proper security monitoring tools must be deployed to keep an eye on what’s happening.

Future proofing the technology means adopting innovative security strategies where they are applicable. AI and machine learning tools can help devices identify and understand when something isn’t right, and then ultimately empowering them to take action. Whether that be blocking out a users access, notifying an administrator, or shutting-down completely to prevent further damage.

New threats and opportunities will always be present, as the market and field of cybersecurity is ever-evolving. However, acting now and deploying appropriate measures as soon as possible will help prevent the more damaging events from occurring on your network and devices. https://www.pslcorp.com/it-outsourcing-services-companies/

5 Common Ops Mistakes You Should Catch Early

In Devops, change is imminent but when poorly managed it can lead to these five common mistakes and further performance issues.

Because DevOps centers around change, and consistent change at that, it’s easy to encounter instability during a project. No one wants that, but avoiding it entirely is not possible.

You see, in Ops we are constantly evolving, changing, and adapting to meet not just the market trends and client expectations but internal requirements as well. For the most part this can be beneficial. However, there are two sides to “change” or flexibility. The good or positive side leads to growth, innovation, and ultimately success. The opposite leads to downtime, performance hiccups, and poor results at the worst.

So, even though change is both good and necessary, it can be a hindrance when not properly managed. Ask any software engineer what they think is the most common reason for system downtime, most will agree it’s due to software, network, or configuration changes.

The best — and only way really — to deal with growing instability is to catch and solve mistakes as early as possible. It’s all about preparation and preventative maintenance.

In light of that, we’re going to explore some of the most common ops mistakes, and how you can correctly deal with them. If you learn to identify the issues now, you’ll be better off when you encounter them later.

1. Ineffective test environments

Want to experience some real setbacks? Mix up your test and production environments. Or, you can make the poor decision of running all your tests on a local machine. The latter will cause some serious issues when you realize that applications run differently on different machines.

You’re not the only one in the field to experience difficulties choosing the appropriate test environments. According to the World Quality Report 2016-17 from Capgemini, here’s the average breakdown of the most common environments used.

What makes an environment is not the application or database, it’s the configuration. It’s the use of a controlled setting to conduct activities and monitor accuracy. So choosing the appropriate configuration should always be a priority, be it cloud based, virtualized or something else entirely.

Right from the start, keep your test environments separate. Furthermore, establish a proper testing protocol by using virtual machines. You’ll find that not only is it easier, but also it will save you lots of time. You can also better simulate platforms that your clients might have access to but you don’t.

Notice in the figure above, temporary and virtual testing collectively makes up the most usage? That’s because it’s so effective and much safer than deploying via live platforms.

2. Poor deployments

Each piece of code — during its entire lifecycle of development — must be deployed consistently. Otherwise, you risk experiencing configuration drift in which changes are made ad hoc or not recorded and the infrastructure becomes more and more different, or drifts. This is often exacerbated by rapid release schedules. This also means that time and resources are wasted when moving environments, because you’ll likely be trying to identify why things aren’t working the way they should.

To ensure a more reliable process, stick with the same deployment steps from the beginning of the project to the end of it. This especially helps when you are moving from lower environments with more frequent deployments to those with fewer deployments.

3. Risk or incident management faults

You must develop and comprehensively document your incident management process. Failure to do so will result in severe inefficiencies.

This means building an incident response plan, defining roles and responsibilities within your team, and keeping your clients in the loop. The latter is only possible with proper documentation, which further highlights the need to have a good system in place.

Don’t neglect the generated incident reports either. Review them regularly to ensure that the operation is running smoothly and that issues are being handled in a timely manner.

4. No real-time monitoring or alerts

The tool itself, of which there are many, doesn’t matter. But monitoring in real-time is absolutely vital to a successful DevOps strategy.

You can select from open-source and premium tools, the choice is up to you. Just make sure you have something prepped and ready to go, and that it’s accurately sending the alerts and information you need.

https://www.pslcorp.com/outsource-web-development/

5. Not maintaining backups

The question of whether or not you should make regular data backups is non-negotiable.

In fact, if you use S3 or rely on similar platforms, conducting regular backups should be familiar to you. It’s an industry practice that’s really become something of a standard, and for good reason.

Pro Tip: If you really want to be safe, you can even open your production datasets and backups in a virtual test environment to make sure everything is working correctly. That may save you some time later, especially if something fishy is up with your backup process or tools.

Bonus: Common security traps

Just to touch on a few more common mistakes, you may also want to avoid doing the following:

Not using or assigning individual user accounts
Failing to select or enable encryption as part of the development cycle
Relying solely on SSH instead of gateway boxes for your database servers
Ignoring internal IT requests and demands
Deploying tools without performing extensive research
Neglecting physical and local security within your office

Provided you avoid the basic mistakes here and continue to develop and manage your risk management strategy, you should be well-prepared for anything encountered during your next deployment. Catch those bottlenecks and failures early, and you can curb growing instability before it gets out of hand. https://www.pslcorp.com/outsource-web-development/

Colombia & IoT: Featuring Sebastian Velez, Head of Technology at PSL

This article first appeared in Nearshore Americas, by Matt Kendall.
Key technology stakeholders in Colombia are driven by the huge potential of IoT, developing a growing ecosystem that is positioning the country at the vanguard of IoT development in the region.
At an estimated approximate value of US$170 billion in 2017, the global Internet of Things (IoT) market is nothing to sneeze at. This potential value is being acknowledged by IT companies in Colombia as they chase the IoT development crown in Latin America.
Colombia’s IoT market was worth US$168.3 million in 2016 and is predicted to grow to US$438 million by 2021, according to Gina Sanchez from Frost & Sullivan, who shared her insights at the Mobile World Congress in November. Taking her data into account, IoT services and IoT software reportedly made up 31.8% and 16.7% of this market, respectively, with hardware seizing almost 50% and connectivity, such as telecom providers, just 7%.
Providers, government players, and other stakeholders in the country are well aware of this potential and are part of a growing ecosystem that is positioning Colombia at the vanguard of IoT development in the region.
A Strong, Growing Ecosystem
Sebastian Vélez: “Cloud vendors have helped a lot to accelerate the adoption and maturity of IoT-related services.”
“Colombia’s IoT ecosystem has grown a lot and is constantly changing, and cloud vendors have helped a lot to accelerate the adoption and maturity of IoT-related services,” said Sebastian Vélez, Head of Technology at PSL, which is providing IoT services for US and Canadian clients in the autonomous driving, automotive efficiency, and security sectors.
The work that PSL is doing in Colombia involves gathering information from car sensors that leads to more efficient driving algorithms, insights, and analytics. The company is also working on IoT in school buses to improve routes, speed, and acceleration, as well as with and private security and police forces on video detection, face recognition, and live security alerts in the United States.
“IoT is evolving fast, but the problem is that many clients don’t yet understand the full breadth of what is requires to implement a solution,” said Jose Alejandro Betancur, Chief Innovation Officer at Intergrupo. “Last year, a lot of clients came to try and copy other IoT models they had seen, but weren’t aware that’s it’s a full hybrid service of hardware, software, and other technologies, which companies need a range of capabilities to achieve.”
Training for IoT
Echoing the sentiments of Jorge Aramburo, CEO and Founder of PSL, who was vocal about the talent issues Colombia still faces, Vélez acknowledged the ongoing challenge of finding engineers in Colombia, but said it was not too difficult to train existing staff upwards into development for IoT projects.
“IoT solutions are highly distributed systems where you have to be aware of performance, latencies, failure recovery, and many other aspects of complex distributed systems, such as an understanding of Cloud technology,” said Vélez. “We first look for strong foundations of skills within those topics, and then rely on training to teach the many specific technologies that we need to implement a solution.”
Intergrupo is another IT services provider that is seeing growth in demand for IoT. In order to get its talent ready, the company offers training boot camps every 2-3 months, also taking people out of other projects and into IoT innovation labs. Out of their 1,200 people, they now have 100 training in IoT and 20 in the innovation lab.
“The people that we choose need to be motivated to solve real problems, so they generally have deep knowledge on the basics of software development, but also bring ideas to the table to solve client issues,” said Betancur.
AZLogica, a Colombian developer of telematics, Internet of Things, and Machine to Machine solutions, approaches training across three levels.
“At the highest level are those who are already part of the IoT ecosystem, with experience in different industries, and are looking to grow as part of their own development,” said Edgar Salas, CEO of AZLogica. “At the second level are the tech geeks who have been working with us for a long time and want to grow their skills, so we engage with them with new salaries and move them into the R&D area to do so. The third are people who have been finalizing their studies at university, and want to transition to the real world, so we can mould them from an early stage to be ready for IoT development – it’s vital that they are motivated to face new challenges that IoT is creating.”
Security, Reliability, and Other Risks
For clients in any sector, security is one of the main concerns of any IoT project, as the information that can be gathered is often highly sensitive or ripe for cyberattack.
For Edgar Salas, international ISO standards have been an appropriate response to the issue of security, making it one of the few companies in the country that boasts an ISO 27000 standard, as it relates to IoT.
Edgar Salas: “It’s vital that engineers and students are motivated to face new challenges that IoT is creating.”
“This is applied to data gathering and information deployment, so clients can feel safe about who gathers the data, when it is gathered, how it is transferred, and who is allowed access,” said Salas. “You have to be very careful about how to treat the information you are gathering because most IoT scenarios that we have seen deal with private information at some point.”

IT outsourcing
Intergrupo and PSL are now introducing Blockchain technology to offset some of the security challenges of IoT. While it is still early days, the tech is being used to enhance transparency and retain infallible information on previous data transmissions. But that’s not all.
“With our innovation lab, we are working on devices that don’t transmit a signal when they are not being used, so they are not always connected, just sending information when something changes,” said Betancur, highlighting an innovative approach to IoT design that Colombia is producing.
Along with security, information reliability, computing time, and latency are all the main issues associated with IoT devices, but with certain techniques it has been possible for some IoT providers in Colombia to address them.
“With any connected device, it often occurs that you don’t have the same reliability of networks and hardware that come with other services,” said Vélez. “Cloud has helped a lot with that, as well as Edge computing, which relies on the end device for computation, not a centralized service.”

Looking Ahead for Colombia IoT and offshore outsourcing
In order to gain better control over their business, companies in education, health, finance, agriculture, retail, and transportation are expected to demand this type of solution the most, according to Andrés Sánchez, CEO of Identidad IoT. Even so, investment into IoT in Colombia is just 0.02%, as discovered in the company’s Innovation Index (QuISI). Compare this to China (26%) and the United States (27%), and this is very low. Even so, the country is confident in its future with the tech.

Established in 2016 for US$1.8 million, Colombia’s Center of Excellence and Appropriation in Internet of Things (CEA-IoT) is an alliance between universities, global technology companies, and local providers that seek to boost the country’s economic growth through IoT innovations.
The initiative is promoted by the Ministry of ICT, with support from the Administrative Department of Science, Technology and Innovation (Colciencias), and is part of a strategy to keep Colombia on its trajectory as a regional leader in ICT.
Within the next ten years, CEA-IoT intends to represent the Latin American benchmark for the development of products and services based on IoT technologies, as well as being the main advisory for the Colombian government and local and national entities on the topic.
Local telco Claro, owned by Mexico’s America Movil, is also aiming to deploy 4.5G technology in Colombia this year, in order to address both narrowband and more data-intensive IoT applications.
If CEA-IoT is successful in gaining the collaboration of local telecom providers and tech companies, the country should be able to retain its IoT crown in Latin America.
“I agree that Colombia is at the forefront of IoT in the region,” said Vélez. “There are a number of communities working on it, students get to join IoT projects at the early stages, and there are plenty of IoT startups in the country. We are far from done, but I would agree that Colombia is ahead of the curve in Latin America.” https://www.pslcorp.com/offshore-software-outsourcing-development-center/