Cybersecurity in an Era of Increased Connectivity

As Internet of Things (IoT) technology opens the door for more interconnected systems, data centers are evolving in ways that offer big benefits. Enterprises now have the capability to move beyond a centralized data center topology with edge applications that drive exciting new end-user capabilities. Organizations can use IoT solutions to automate IT processes for edge deployments where the on-site staff is lacking.  

While new opportunities come with all this increased connectivity, it also intensifies an already formidable challenge: cybersecurity. In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the issue and provide some recommendations for ways to protect critical infrastructure from emerging threats. 

A look at the Facts

According to the World Economic Forum 2018 Global Risks Report, cyber-attacks against businesses nearly doubled in just five years’ time, and incidents that would once have been considered extraordinary are becoming more and more commonplace. Considering the severity of possible outcomes, it’s not surprising that the global cost of cybercrime is projected to reach $2 trillion by 2019. The number represents a threefold increase from the 2015 estimate of $500 billion, as predicted by Juniper research

Worrisome cybersecurity trends will likely grow with the expansion of IoT. By 2025, research firm IDC forecasts that there will be 41.6 billion connected IoT devices generating 79.4 zettabytes of data. As the risk continues to escalate, data centers must ensure that their integrated technology is secure and resilient. 

Regulators Offer Guidelines 

In the face of mounting cyber threats, global safety science organization UL developed and published the UL 2900-1 standard for software cybersecurity for network-connectable devices. The UL cybersecurity certification provides a purchaser the assurance that the product has been thoroughly reviewed and tested against a trusted benchmark. 

State governments are taking legislative action to demand a higher level of cybersecurity as well. California recently passed a bill making IoT device companies more responsible for ensuring the privacy and security of the state’s residents. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has also released cybersecurity certifications to give organizations more tools for a successful cybersecurity strategy.

As industry standards and government regulations continue to evolve, this type of respected independent testing will remain among the best means for data center and IT managers to ensure their technology providers have done their due diligence to mitigate risks. Experts also recommend taking a variety of measures to safeguard against cybersecurity threats, such as using a firewall and encrypting information; conducting routine security assessments; regularly updating antivirus software and antispyware; using advanced email filtering; establishing powerful passwords policies and endpoint protection, as well as offering employees cybersecurity awareness training.

A Proactive Defense  

For context on how important cybersecurity is across every access point within a network, consider this: by targeting an overlooked vulnerability in a major retailer’s HVAC unit, hackers were able to access POS devices and steal 70 million client accounts

Like HVAC systems, UPSs aren’t typically top-of-mind when it comes to cybersecurity – but the desire to leverage connected capabilities such as remote monitoring is increasing demand for this functionality in power management equipment. That’s why we at Eaton have begun taking steps to strengthen cybersecurity in these solutions by launching the first-ever UL 2900-1 and IEC 62443-4-2 cybersecurity-certified UPS Gigabit Network Card. Additionally, an ongoing focus on cybersecurity has helped to ensure that all of Eaton’s products already comply with California’s requirements, from UPSs to power distribution units (PDUs) and power management software. 

As technology providers across the connected spectrum make strides in adhering with new cybersecurity measures, it serves as a signpost for data centers and IT staffs that they understand the risks that pervade the Internet and are serious about addressing them.

Looking Ahead 

As the proliferation of smart, connected devices link together more and more elements of data center and IT operations, it calls for a proactive strategy to address the ensuing cybersecurity risks. Companies can’t afford the complications and costs that can occur when systems are breached. By taking a security-first approach and maximizing cyber safety rigors with protected-by-design products, data center and IT managers will put themselves in the best position for a safe road ahead.

Hervé Tardy is Vice President and General Manager of Eaton’s Distributed Power Infrastructure business unit. In this role, Hervé manages the Americas product roadmap for power solutions, software and connectivity products to reinforce Eaton’s technology leadership.