AWS Public Sector Blog

Secure your organization’s Internet of Things devices using AWS IoT

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The public sector’s use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices is steadily growing, as these organizations learn how to implement and derive value from IoT solutions. Public sector agencies and organizations deploy IoT devices in a variety of areas, such as transportation and infrastructure, crime prevention, education, and utilities and environment. For example, IoT devices with control systems help deliver power and water to citizens or detects gas leaks in pipes.

IoT devices send and receive data across machines and trigger actions. Highly interconnected by nature, IoT devices may share data between devices, applications, and some parts of the network. Securing this data and ensuring appropriate access for users, devices, and systems are essential to protecting citizens from cyberattacks, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. IoT devices can be easy targets for hackers because they are typically numerous and geographically distributed, and are often constrained by limited computational power, memory, and storage capabilities.

In this post, we are going to use the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency ‘s (CISA) guidelines as a reference to improve the security of your IoT devices and learn how to address vulnerabilities using Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT services.

How AWS IoT supports your IoT devices

AWS IoT is a managed service provided by AWS to connect IoT devices to other devices and AWS cloud services using protocols such as Message Queuing and Telemetry Transport (MQTT), MQTT over WebSocket Secure (MQTT over WSS), HTTPS, and Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN).

AWS IoT lets customers onboard their IoT devices at scale and assists in managing them throughout their lifecycle. AWS IoT supports client and server authentication to protect the integrity of data, provide access control, and encrypt data. It also provides edge computing capabilities to use local compute and data, thus reducing latency in data processing and enabling real-time decision-making. The seamless integration with other AWS services enables AWS IoT to integrate with your applications and build data processing and analytical capabilities.

Improving device security using AWS IoT

When it comes to improving security in IoT devices, there are multiple areas to consider to protect against potential threats and vulnerabilities. We have categorized these areas into different sections: device connectivity, data protection, device management, and device monitoring. Let’s review them one by one.

Device Connectivity: Due to the highly connected nature of IoT devices, weak security in one device can compromise the entire network. It is essential to ensure that devices are connecting and authenticating with the correct destination service, rather than with another impersonating client or server. AWS IoT supports X.509 certificates and custom authentication, allowing for secure connectivity between AWS IoT and devices over a Transport Layer Security (TLS) connection. Once the identity is established, AWS IoT Core policies and AWS IAM policies must be used to enforce access control and policies.

Data Protection: We recommend that you encrypt all data, including configuration data, when stored at rest, even transient data, whenever feasible. With AWS IoT all communication between IoT devices and AWS IoT is encrypted using TLS, ensuring that transmitted data is protected over the network. In addition to utilizing encryption mechanisms, it is crucial to define and implement data classification strategies for your IoT data based on levels of sensitivity. Moreover, defining data lifecycle and archival policies helps retain only necessary data for your organization.

Device Management: When your IoT fleet of devices scales up, operations and management activities such as device provisioning, software or firmware updates, and applying security policies become increasingly challenging. The visibility of IoT devices also poses a significant challenge.

AWS IoT Device Management simplifies the onboarding, organization, and remote management of these devices. With AWS IoT Device Management, you can provision and register devices, upload security certificates, and implement policies in bulk. It allows you to organize your vast number of devices into groups so that you can index and search them. This feature comes in handy when you want to troubleshoot or isolate certain devices. Using AWS IoT Device Management, you can monitor system performance, push software or firmware updates, perform over-the-air updates, reboot devices, and perform factory resets etc.

AWS IoT Device Management also provides the ability to build web applications to monitor your device status, including connection status, firmware version, and battery level, among other parameters. You can set up alarms to trigger notifications when device status changes and take built-in corrective actions accordingly.

Device Monitoring: Proactive resolution and real-time detection of security-related issues is the key in securing your IoT devices. This proactive approach helps minimize downtime and prevents service disruptions. Additionally, having mechanisms in place to detect security incidents in real-time and take remedial action is essential. AWS IoT Device Defender continuously monitors IoT device fleets to detect security vulnerabilities, audit configurations and identify unusual activity patterns. It uses machine learning models to detect anomalies and can be configured to create alarms and trigger remedial actions by using mitigation action commands.


Securing IoT devices is important in today’s interconnected world, where data privacy and integrity are of utmost importance. By using AWS IoT and other AWS services you can help protect your IoT deployments against potential threats and vulnerabilities. By implementing encryption, access control, continuous monitoring, and other best practices offered by AWS, organizations can build and operate secure and resilient IoT solutions. As the IoT landscape continues to evolve, incorporating the security right from the design phase is critical for building a secure IoT solution. With AWS as a trusted partner, organizations can stay ahead in the dynamic IoT landscape. Let’s go, learn and build IoT solutions on AWS.

Ryan Hillard

Ryan Hillard

Ryan is a solutions architect at Amazon Web Services (AWS). He specializes in serverless and believes that event-driven architectures model the real world in a more natural, intuitive way. Ryan is passionate about helping public sector organizations fulfill their critical missions.

Emma Ng (Harrison)

Emma Ng (Harrison)

Emma is a solutions architect at Amazon Web Services (AWS) and helps customers in the federal civilian space. She is passionate about storage, security, and helping customers become well-architected. When not working, Emma loves weightlifting, running, and spending time with her family and dogs.

Muhammad Qazafi

Muhammad Qazafi

Muhammad is a solutions architect for Amazon Web Services (AWS), with 15-plus years of experience. He assists customers in designing, developing, and implementing secure, scalable, and innovative solutions. His primary objective is to help customers achieve measurable business outcomes through the effective utilization of AWS.

Prathap Thoguru

Prathap Thoguru

Prathap is a technical leader and an enterprise solutions architect at Amazon Web Services (AWS). He is an AWS certified professional and specializes in data and analytics. Prathap helps customers get started on and migrate their on-premises workloads to the AWS Cloud. He holds a master’s degree in information technology from the University of Newcastle, Australia.