Before we dive into the world of IoT VPNs, it is crucial to differentiate them from the familiar consumer VPNs used to secure internet connections or access business networks. IoT VPNs share some essential features with their consumer counterparts, but there are intricate differences that set them apart.
So, what exactly are IoT VPNs? Let’s break it down…
1. Data Encryption for IoT Devices: IoT VPNs come into play when IoT devices, such as sensors, trackers, or monitors, send or receive data. They encrypt this data to ensure it still is secure during transmission.
2. Device Authentication: Every IoT device must be authenticated by the VPN to verify its legitimacy for the connection. This extra layer of security ensures that only authorised devices can communicate.
3. Secure Access: When engineers or other authorised personnel need to interact with these devices, IoT VPNs supply a secure gateway. This means that access is controlled, preventing any unauthorised intrusions.
4. Risk Mitigation: IoT VPNs help contain the risks of a data breach. They often work in clusters, securing multiple devices simultaneously.
What makes IoT VPNs different?
Unlike the robust, bandwidth-intensive nature of consumer VPNs used by remote office workers, IoT VPNs are optimised for low-power, small-scale, single-purpose devices. Think of temperature sensors, humidity monitors, or asset trackers. These devices require small form factors and minimal power consumption. In IoT security, the focus often shifts away from the device itself.
Another significant distinction lies in the network connections. While consumer VPNs are typically used with fast Wi-Fi connections, IoT VPNs rely on mobile networks like 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, NB-IoT, and LTE-M. These networks offer slower and less stable bandwidth. IoT devices might need to reconnect if the connection drops or if they move between different mobile networks. Consequently, IoT VPNs operate at a lower level of the OSI model than the application layer to ensure a seamless and secure connection.
In summary, IoT VPNs are the unsung heroes of the Internet of Things, providing crucial security measures for a wide range of devices, from environmental sensors to asset trackers. While they share some common ground with consumer VPNs, their specific features and functions are tailored to the unique challenges and requirements of IoT applications. So, if you’re venturing into the world of IoT, understanding IoT VPNs is an important step in ensuring the security and reliability of your connected devices.