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Lower Security Risks, Reduce Costs and Increase ROI with an IoT Network Management Solution

September 27, 2018
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Sierra Wireless
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For many years, police and fire departments, utility companies, public transit agencies, retailers and other private and public-sector organizations have deployed a variety of different IoT applications designed to streamline or improve their operations or provide insights they can use to service their customers or communities better. Often these organizations took a manual approach to managing the routers and gateways that these IoT applications depend on. As a result, if they needed to upgrade the firmware, reconfigure these devices or complete any other device management tasks, they sent technicians into the field to make manual updates by connecting to them directly. 

Many of these organizations are increasingly realizing that this manual approach to configuration is inefficient. One reason is that as our connected world increasingly deploys IoT applications to collect, transmit and analyze sensitive, business-critical data, the number of cyberattacks targeting these applications grows, raising the risk of significant financial or other damage from a successful breach. This makes it more critical than ever for organizations to be able to react to security threats in real-time. Unfortunately, a manual approach to updates makes it difficult, if not impossible, to react and update gateways and routers with firmware upgrades, security patches or configuration changes in real time, before an attack reaches them. Devices without these updates can be hacked into by cybercriminals, who can then use them to launch distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) that can lead to large cellular data overage bills. These cyberattacks can also expose sensitive data or disable mission-critical IoT applications. 

In addition, organizations that rely on a manual approach to managing remote gateways and routers are discovering that it requires the expenditure of significant resources on an ongoing basis, especially as IoT applications are increasingly integrating into larger digital transformation initiatives. This problem becomes particularly apparent as organizations find themselves frequently making configuration changes to these devices whenever they want to add to or enhance the functionality of their IoT applications. In addition, organizations deploying new IoT applications are discovering that manually configuring devices, one by one, increases IoT application deployment times and expenses, causing digital transformation initiatives to be over budget and behind schedule. 

As a result, organizations are realizing that a manual management approach is risky, slow and expensive. The need to update devices to fend off cyberattacks, enhance IoT applications on an on-going basis, and quickly deploy new IoT applications as part of an organization’s larger digital transformation initiatives make a manual approach for remote device administration and configuration obsolete. 

In this environment, network management solutions are no longer a luxury or a “nice-to-have,” but rather a requirement for organizations deploying or administering IoT applications with more than a few remote or mobile routers and gateways. With a simple, powerful and scalable network management solution like AirLink® Management Service (ALMS), organizations can quickly install updates that strengthen the security of their IoT applications, reduce ongoing costs related to reconfiguring devices for IoT applications enhancements, and simplify and speed the deployment of new IoT applications. 

Improve IoT Application Security to Reduce Risk 

With ALMS, organizations can quickly and easily deliver over-the-air (OTA) firmware updates to their devices to help protect against new security threats. Organizations no longer need to manually connect to each device, one at a time, to update firmware or apply security patches, which not only increases the speed in which security updates can be made, but also reduces the costs associated with making updates. 

In fact, from the ALMS dashboard, organizations can view the status of updates on all devices and push updates with one click. They can also easily monitor their devices on an ongoing basis and set up proactive alerts for activities like spikes in data transmission that might indicate a breach, allowing them to quickly react to and minimize any damage from a successful attack. 

Simplify Operations to Lower Costs

Organizations can use ALMS to simplify the process to update their devices with new firmware and other software updates, reducing time spent tracking for and implementing updates, while also decreasing the possibility of missing a critical update. 

In addition to alerts on data transmission spikes mentioned above, administrators can set caps for device data transmissions, or slow down data transmission if a device is approaching its cap. This further reduces the potential for costly data overages from a security breach, non-malicious (though perhaps unauthorized) use of a device for video streaming or other high-bandwidth activities, or higher than expected data transmission caused by an IoT application bug or another unexpected scenario. 

Organizations can receive alerts on events that indicate if preventive device maintenance might be needed (such as a device no longer transmitting data) and remotely diagnose and fix the issues, reducing downtime. Updating, fixing or replacing these devices quickly, helps organizations avoid problems that can result in lost customers, lower revenues or slow delivery of mission-critical services.

Accelerate IoT Application Deployment, Expansion and Enhancement

Network management solutions like ALMS also make it easier to update device configurations to support IoT application improvements or new applications. For example, the router reconfigurations needed to enable police officers to transmit dashcam video footage from their vehicles to headquarters could be completed remotely, accelerating deployment of this new capability. Similar OTA reconfigurations could be used by a transit agency to make Wi-Fi available to transit passengers on their fleet of trolley cars. 

These benefits extend to the deployment of new devices for an existing IoT application or the launch of a completely new application. With ALMS, organizations can build a configuration template for devices and then automatically apply this template over the air to a group of devices. All the installer needs to do is open the box, add the antenna, and turn the device on, and device setup takes place automatically from there.

ALMS can also provide insights on the environment in which an organization’s devices are deployed, helping them increase the performance of these devices. By reviewing data on environmental interference, signal strength and coverage, organizations can validate the reliability of their configuration and implementation.

By making it easier to enhance current IoT applications, add new applications, and optimize the performance of these applications, ALMS enables organizations to increase the lifetime ROI of their IoT applications.

Start with Sierra to learn more about how ALMS makes it easier to remotely deploy, monitor and upgrade any number of gateways and routers. Try it for free—if you have 15 or fewer Sierra Wireless devices, sign up for a free, unrestricted ALMS account to see how it can help you improve the security of IoT applications, reduce application operating costs, and help you accelerate enhancement and expansion of your current applications, as well as deployment of new applications.

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