Cloud Based IoT Security

The world is going digital — and fast.

More and more people are working from home full time using tools like Slack, Dropbox, Confluence, and Jira.

You don’t have to change out of your pajamas to drive to buy groceries anymore. Just click a few buttons on your phone, and Instacart or Amazon Fresh delivers right to your door.

Vehicles are getting “smarter” and are now able to navigate for you — and in some cases, even drive for you by connecting to different internet resources.

Gone are the days where you would have to stand up to change your thermostat or turn the car around if you forgot to turn off the hair straightener. You can change the temperature and shut off your styling tools right from your phone.

Almost all of your household devices can be connected to the internet and controlled through apps. Sometimes appliances can even manage tasks without you there.

The same is true for the workplace as well. Manual tasks are being digitized. So much can be controlled digitally: air conditioning, locks, coffee makers, and printers. Just about everything is (or can be) part of the IoT — the Internet of Things.

How The IoT Impacts Your Business

The IoT, simply put, is anything that can connect over and to the internet. Internet-enabled devices and appliances need to be secured just like computers — regardless of whether you have one IoT device or hundreds.

“IoT used to be only the area of enthusiasts, hobbyists. However, these days people buy IoT products off the market, and these products are often found to contain serious security flaws. This is a problem that usually stems from software design without security in mind.” - Johan Draaisma, OpenVPN Manager

And while this might not seem like a big deal, imagine the kind of havoc a cybercriminal could cause with access to IoT devices. Image if a hacker was able to get control over:

  • The security cameras showing office activity
  • The keypad that grants access to the building
  • The printers that copy sensitive documents
  • The power socket controlled by mobile phone
  • The thermostat that can be controlled remotely

In any of those cases, a hacker can access sensitive information, plot physical break-ins based on their observations, and cause physical property damage by reducing the office to freezing temperatures until water pipes freeze and burst.

While those examples are some of the worst-case scenarios, they are still possible, and in some cases, even probable. That’s why a solution like OpenVPN Cloud is ideal for securing IoT resources in an easy, affordable, and zero-maintenance way. OpenVPN Cloud is a hosted VPN — that means we handle everything on the server end, and you don’t have to worry about it.

OpenVPN Cloud

Not all VPN providers can deliver the right fit for your IoT security. OpenVPN Cloud gives you that security through encrypted connections to a private network delivered as a service. You no longer need to purchase hardware or add servers. When you subscribe to OpenVPN Cloud, you have a private, hosted VPN server with the encryption you want to protect your IoT data transfer.

So how do you set up IoT devices on VPN?

You can’t install clients on the devices so you need to step up to a higher level of the network to provide the encryption. This can be done at the router or server level. OpenVPN Cloud is compatible with DD-WRT routers, pfsense, AWS, and more. You connect all of your devices to one router or one server, then set that device up as a Host for your private OpenVPN Cloud network.

What is a Host?

Think of a host like a server running on your private, OpenVPN Cloud network. The VPN makes it possible for you to extend the network by installing a Host Connector on the same computing instance as your server.

Creating a Host provides you with an easy way to make an application service available. You no longer need to set up site-to-site networking.

When you set up a Host, it receives a static VPN IP address. With this, you can reach the server whenever connected to the VPN.

How Companies Use OpenVPN Cloud for IoT Security

Consider a security company that provides security cameras, motion detectors, keypads, alarms, and 24/7 monitoring. Their services are typically utilized by private residences and small businesses. On average, the company installs one or two cameras for private residences and three to four cameras for businesses, and their bundled pricing plan includes motion detectors with each camera purchase. All of the physical security solutions are monitored remotely by team members back at headquarters.

The security companies IT director started looking for a new solution that would provide secure remote access to cameras, motion detectors, and alarms so that the team at HQ can monitor and respond to incidents appropriately. However, most customers would not be willing to utilize products that altered their router or firewall, which eliminated IPsec as an option since it’s not-firewall friendly and would require a lot of changes to their client’s equipment. In addition t not being able to alter clients’ equipment, the director also didn’t want his team to have to deal with installing or maintaining additional servers.

He decided to use a router that supports the OpenVPN protocol to create a small private network connecting to their client’s network for internet access. He used OpenVPN Cloud to build a VPN that provides secure communications from the networks at different locations to the monitoring server.

Steps to a More Secure IoT

Fortunately, IoT security with OpenVPN Cloud is actually pretty simple. Thinking back to the example above, here’s how the network administrator was able to get everything all set up and running smoothly:

  1. Complete the signup process.
  2. Select an OpenVPN-ID for the VPN.
  3. Log into the Admin Portal and configure a Host to represent the Monitoring Server.
  4. Download the Connector app and install it on the server instance. Running Connect Client as a system service
  5. Check the Status screen and see that the Host has come online.
  6. Create networks to represent the client’s networks. How to add a Network
  7. Choose the closest OpenVPN Cloud VPN Region for each Network’s Connector to use.
  8. Download the Connector’s profile in .ovpn format and use the downloaded profile to configure the OpenVPN client in the router.
  9. Configure the security equipment to use as the IP address of the monitoring server.
  10. Set up an Access Group to only allow the networks to communicate with the Host and not with each other. Add Access Group

For more detailed instructions and helpful walkthroughs, check out our VPN Set-up Examples

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