The Internet of Things Is Coming: Will You Be Prepared?

The Internet of Things (IoT)—a large, interconnected landscape of everyday objects that are connected to a network and include embedded sensors—is quite possibly the hottest term in the technology realm right now. Connected devices hold enormous potential for both consumers and enterprises in a wide range of areas from home management to jet engine mechanics. For example, smart thermostats that can dynamically regulate home environments based on set owner preferences, and jet engines that will be able to diagnose their own mechanical problems and send out alerts when they are in need of repairs are both on deck.

The numbers make clear that the IoT is more than just a buzzword—it is a rapidly expanding global market. For instance, a recent report from Business Insider projected that there would be 23.3 billion IoT devices connected in all sectors by 2019; the same report noted that spending on enterprise IoT products and services will increase to $255 billion over the next five years, up from $46.2 billion in 2014.

These predictions are a welcome sign for device manufacturers, wireless operators and enterprises that stand to increase profit and efficiency—through the use of Big Data analytics—as   the IoT develops. At the same time, the explosion in connected devices will undoubtedly present some significant challenges and increase the workload for network engineers and IT security professionals.

The billions of new connections that will emerge over the next several years will create a much greater number of endpoints on wireless networks—and any of these connected devices can be targeted for malicious attacks. In fact, hackers have already infiltrated consumer products like smart refrigerators and televisions and security researchers have demonstrated that it is possible to hack a piece of office equipment, such as a printer.

In light of these developments, businesses should consider re-examining their wireless security solutions to make sure the defenses they have in place can meet the challenge of contending with the rapid expansion of the IoT.

A best-in-class wireless network analyzer can protect against security threats and downtime and allow for more effective troubleshooting. For instance, such a solution allows for remote data capture and analysis from a central location no matter where on the network the problem has occurred nor where tracked mobile users may roam. That analysis includes tracking for more than 60 types of wireless events and provides:

  • Comprehensive, real-time performance and security monitoring
  • The ability to track authentications, rogue access points and other events
  • Alerts to potential problems that are prioritized by severity
  • The ability to drill down on the exact source of a potential security threat

The IoT is growing quickly—that much is certain. What remains to be seen is which organizations can maximize the value of connecting devices and which will be weighed down by security problems and subpar wireless network performance. Considering the scope of the IoT and its likely impact on a wide array of verticals, the way businesses adapt to this new connected world will be a significant differentiator for years to come.

Are you interested in learning more about this topic? Click here to watch any of our videos on wireless network analysis.

The Top Challenges for Network Engineers in 2015

In 2014, IT professionals faced myriad challenges on a number of fronts; unfortunately, these employees are unlikely to get a rest in 2015. The job of network engineer seems to grow more difficult each day, as these employees continue to see an increasing number of complex tasks land on their desks. Still, solutions do exist that can help lighten the load for these IT professionals. With that in mind, here’s a list of some of the high-priority obstacles engineers will face in the new year and the products that can help them meet those challenges:

Handling More Traffic on a Similar Budget

Worldwide IT spending is on the upswing as businesses across all sectors try to meet customer expectations. Still, global IT spending rose just 2.1 percent overall in 2014 according to Gartner, less than earlier predictions of 3.2 percent. At the same time, some analysts predict network traffic will double in 2015. So, although some IT engineers will see modest budget increases, they may not get enough money allocated to hire new personnel, meaning they will have to adopt or make better use of high-speed network monitoring solutions to handle increased traffic.

Ensuring QoS With Increased High-Bandwidth Traffic

Organizations are being forced to ramp up bandwidth to support more complex customer-facing applications and increased use of enterprise video, VoIP and other high-bandwidth internal traffic. This shift to network speeds of 10G or higher, however, can present a problem for engineers because it becomes more difficult to monitor traffic at those greater speeds. If engineers can’t see the network traffic, they can’t troubleshoot in real time, and network performance suffers both for employees and customers using the organization’s applications. As a result, network and application performance monitoring solutions will become critical to keeping systems running smoothly.

Dealing With Increasingly Frequent and Complex Security Threats                  

Unfortunately, 2014 was a banner year for hackers and a trying year for IT security and C-level executives. Businesses in a wide variety of sectors experienced malicious hacks and data breaches that had a profoundly negative impact on the infiltrated companies’ public image and fiscal health. Considering that hackers have successfully breached government agencies and large banks, the frequency of attack is likely to grow in 2015. Spending on cybersecurity is already rising, with the research firm MarketsandMarkets predicting the global market will reach $155.75 billion by 2017, up from $95.60 billion in 2014. As more businesses look to adopt high-quality cyberattack analysis and network forensics solutions, those numbers may grow even larger.

Will Your Engineer Be Ready?                                                                                               

Your network engineer is going to face some serious issues in 2015—that is not in doubt. What remains to be seen is whether that engineer will be able to handle these challenges, which will depend largely on the tools at your organization’s disposal. WildPackets offers a wide range of products and services that enable network engineers to do their jobs more efficiently with pin point accuracy.

Are you interested in learning more about network monitoring and analysis? Click here to visit our resource page and download one of our white papers.

Point-of-Sale Malware Hits Black Market

During last year’s holiday season, Target was the victim of a massive data breach that turned out to be just the first in a long line of malicious intrusions among corporations. The Target breach was perpetrated using malware that tapped into and scanned computers connected to point-of-sale systems that process credit card payments.

Now, it seems, the same kind of point-of-sale malware used in the Target breach and a number of other attacks this past year is available in underground markets for as little as $2,000. Unfortunately for businesses that maintain large quantities of customer data, that availability means all cybercriminals—even those without the skills to develop and execute a sophisticated attack themselves—are a threat to network security.

The simple reality for contemporary businesses is that they must be prepared for attempted intrusions because they will be hit with multiple attacks.  In fact, in the US, at least one business is attacked every hour. Network monitoring solutions that include network forensics capabilities give IT engineers the visibility they need to ferret out these attacks and take decisive action. The four pillars of a complete cyber attack analysis solution are:

  • Network Recording – capturing network traffic from 1G, 10G and 40G networks around the clock for forensic analysis
  • Searching and Inspection – enabling administrators and security experts to comb through archived traffic for anomalies and signs of security events
  • Trend Analysis and Baselining – characterizing network and application usage so that anomalies can be detected more quickly
  • Reporting – capturing data and distilling analysis into reports so that security and IT experts can log the results of their investigations and review network vulnerabilities in post-mortem analysis

With more malicious weapons available to cybercriminals, businesses need advanced tools that help them meet network security challenges. So, is your organization prepared for these threats? If you’d like to learn more about how to upgrade your security, click here to read our white paper, “Network Forensics 101: Finding the Needle in the Haystack.”