Qiang Huang, Palo Alto Networks: On addressing IoT device security challenges

Qiang Huang, Palo Alto Networks: On addressing IoT device security challenges Ryan is a senior editor at TechForge Media with over a decade of experience covering the latest technology and interviewing leading industry figures. He can often be sighted at tech conferences with a strong coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other. If it's geeky, he’s probably into it. Find him on Twitter (@Gadget_Ry) or Mastodon (@gadgetry@techhub.social)


The security of IoT devices is of paramount concern across various industries as the digital landscape continues to evolve.

IoT News caught up with Qiang Huang, head of IoT security product management at Palo Alto Networks, to shed light on the advancements and challenges facing IoT security.

Huang emphasised that, while IoT has become integral for digital transformation journeys across industries, the surge in connected devices has led to heightened security vulnerabilities.

A common problem is that these devices – such as security cameras, entry systems, and speakers – often ship with inherent vulnerabilities and lack effective patching mechanisms, posing significant risks. Moreover, IoT devices often operate unnoticed and in the shadows—making them hard to secure effectively.

“Because of a very long operational lifecycle, they can become even more vulnerable over time,” says Huang.

To tackle these challenges, Palo Alto Networks has adopted a unique approach, highlighted Huang. Their IoT Security solution involves a platform-based methodology that allows customers to gain IoT device visibility and security on both Palo Alto Networks’ NGFWs (Next-Generation Firewalls) and their Prisma Access solution for cloud environments.

IoT Security uses machine learning to discover devices, identify risks, and model their behaviour. The platform also transforms this insight into security policy enforcement, facilitating identity-based segmentation and least privilege access control to support a “zero trust” approach. The solution also provides continuous monitoring and advanced security inspections to detect and stop threats.  

Machine learning generally plays a crucial role in Palo Alto Networks’ approach, offering benefits such as scalability, behaviour baseline creation, and advanced threat detection.

“If you look at IoT devices, they’re really machines built for a specific purpose … that means, once you understand its pattern – which is predictable if they’re operating the way it’s designed – you can actually turn that into security,” explains Huang.

Palo Alto Networks has developed comprehensive solutions for specific verticals:

  • Industrial IoT Security – Provides security for the unique devices, protocols, and architectures of manufacturers, energy companies, and utilities.
  • Medical IoT Security – Meets the needs of providers’ highly-regulated environments and provides custom reporting to meet the needs of clinical and biomedical workers.
  • Enterprise IoT Security – For retailers, government, hospitality and other verticals for the wide array of IoT devices found in every office and showroom.

In addressing concerns about scalability, reliability, and performance, Huang pointed out that Palo Alto Networks’ solutions are designed to cater to various environments. The company’s platform can operate in diverse settings – from small clinics to expansive data centres – and offers both hardware and virtual form factors for deployment.

Huang will deliver a keynote session at the upcoming IoT Tech Expo Europe, where he will join his Palo Alto Networks colleagues in raising awareness, sharing insights, and advocating for the mainstreaming of IoT security as an integral part of overall cybersecurity strategies.

As IoT devices continue to proliferate across industries, Palo Alto Networks’ innovative approach to IoT security offers a comprehensive solution to mitigate risks, ensure compliance, and foster a safer digital environment.

(Photo by Yosuke Ota on Unsplash)

Huang and the rest of the Palo Alto Networks team will be sharing their expertise at this year’s IoT Tech Expo Europe on 26-27 September 2023. Be sure to check out Huang’s keynote and swing by Palo Alto Networks’ booth at stand #150.

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