Cybersecurity is a growing concern for the manufacturing sector, with nearly 14% of manufacturers reporting one type of attack—ransomware—within the past year. Ransomware is just one of many digital threats that businesses face, and that highlights the need for strong cybersecurity practices in every setting where organizations have devices connected to their network or the internet.
That includes wireless sensor systems. These systems can improve cold chain management, operational efficiency, safety and predictive maintenance practices. But those improvements should never come at the expense of security.
Swift Sensors systems are designed by experts with years of cybersecurity experience to protect our clients’ sensitive data and operations. Here’s what we build into our systems to protect your data—and what you should look for in any wireless sensor system you consider for your business.
Secure sensor-to-gateway connections
In the consumer world, we’ve all seen news stories about someone accidentally eavesdropping on a neighbor’s baby monitor because the Wi-Fi signal wasn’t secure. In business and industry, the fallout from all kinds of data breaches makes regular headlines, too. An insecure equipment sensor network can allow real-time eavesdropping and deliberate data theft.
So, your industrial sensor network’s first security job is to protect your sensor data by sending it via Bluetooth or RF to your network’s gateway. The next step is to prevent the gateway from receiving data from unauthorized sensors. For example, all Swift Sensors gateways are formatted to reject incoming data from sensors that aren’t configured as part of their system.
These two steps keep eavesdroppers out of the conversation and screen out data transmissions from different systems that might be operating nearby.
Gateway-to-cloud data encryption
As data from your system’s sensors is collected by the gateway, it’s sent to the cloud. This transmission represents another potential vulnerability without the right security features in place. Here are some of the common risk scenarios and how Swift Sensors networks prevent them.
Risk #1: Unencrypted data. Data that’s sent without protection is available to anyone who intercepts the data stream. That can put your business intelligence at risk.
Swift Sensors solution: Swift Sensors gateways send all data to the cloud over SSL connections using 256-bit AES encryption, which is considered the industry standard.
Risk #2: Lack of firewall protection. Your company network’s firewall helps keep intruders out of your system. Devices operating outside your firewall put your data and processes at risk.
Swift Sensors solution: Every device your organization uses on-site, including your wireless sensors and gateways, should be inside the firewall and on your IT team’s radar. Swift Sensors gateways make this easy. They can securely send your data to the cloud from behind your firewall, as long as they have access to the Swift Sensors hub via port 443 (for secure HTTPS connections).
Risk #3: Unauthorized device connections to the gateway. If devices other than your configured sensors can connect with your gateway, they can steal your data or inject malicious code into your system.
Swift Sensors solution: Our gateways do not accept incoming connection requests when internet access is available. When the internet is down, and only then, the gateway briefly allows users to set up or reset the device’s Wi-Fi credentials for wireless access to the cloud.
Restricted device-to-cloud communication
Just as your wireless sensor network’s gateway should refuse connections from unfamiliar devices, your cloud should only be open to connections from your gateway. Swift Sensors ensures that only your gateways can connect with your cloud account to keep your data safe from theft and corruption.
Role-based and hierarchy-based dashboard control
Users to see and work with the data the sensor system collects, so a dashboard with secure login access is a must. Our Cloud Console gives approved users access to data via computer, tablet or smartphone. Administrators can customize access levels for each user based on their role and the level of information they need.
Limiting access to data is important because, intentionally or not, employees are responsible for roughly a third of all data breaches in organizations. The less widely your data is available, the less likely it is to be exposed.
Controls on third-party app access
A good sensor system will include an API so clients can link their systems via custom applications. All of the API endpoints must then be secured to prevent unauthorized access to your data. Swift Sensors accomplishes this by giving each customer a unique 32-character API key on request, plus authorization tokens for each use session.
In addition to the security features we’ve highlighted here, we also protect our clients’ information by salting and hashing any passwords that are stored in the cloud and removing deactivated gateways’ cloud access. We also take care of the cloud server hardware and stay on top of software updates to prevent physical data loss and digital exposure through known vulnerabilities. You can learn more about Swift Sensors security features and practices here.
We’re always happy to talk cybersecurity and sensors. Get in touch if you’d like to learn more about how we can help your business run more efficiently and more safely while staying secure.