Cybersecurity in the Age of IoT: Safeguarding Your Business Against Emerging Threats

People working in the cybersecurity space have been talking about the risk that IoT (or Internet of Things) devices pose to data security and industrial security for years, but an understanding of that risk hasn’t necessarily permeated our society. Understanding the risk to your business can be the line between trust-shattering, bank-account-draining data breaches and being able to effectively protect your business.

What Is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things is a term for all of the little non-computer and non-phone devices we have added to our lives that connect to the internet. For example, smart bulbs now connect to your home WiFi, allowing you to adjust the color and shade, TVs that can connect to the internet through a half-dozen devices, and cars that connect to your phone. So many things in your home and business now can interface with the internet. People might not be aware that while you’re using them, they’re passively sharing data and allowing us to use our phones and computers to control devices we previously wouldn’t have been able to.

Why Are IoT Devices a Unique Cybersecurity Threat?

Unlike computers and phones, which designers know will be used on networks with sensitive data, many IoT devices are not designed nearly as carefully. Further, because of the timelines on which some of the generations of these devices are produced, the company may not have development and cybersecurity staff allocated to patch it quickly when a security issue comes up. In fact, that company may not even be in business when a problem starts to arise, making updates impossible.

How Can We Improve IoT Security?

IoT poses security challenges, but there are still things that can be done to make them safer.

Use Strong Non-Default Passwords

Many IoT devices have a default password that is the same for all devices. Changing this password immediately upon installation is crucial to ensure that people on the same network can’t change its settings without your permission. It’s also important to make sure that it’s a unique password that is up to encryption standards to avoid password scraping attacks.

Put IoT Devices on Guest Networks

Most of your IoT devices don’t need to be on the network you use for business. Setting up a guest network is a common practice to help guests stay connected while visiting but not give them access to your real data. In the same way, you can treat your IoT devices as guests in your building who don’t need the same rights and access as your employees. After all, the coffeemaker really doesn’t even need to be able to ASK for your earnings reports, does it?

Use Only Devices That Are Still Getting Updates

Devices that aren’t getting updates anymore are a ticking time bomb. Ensure that all your devices are getting regular updates and that you’re installing them. If a device stops updating, it’s time to retire it. A new TV will cost much less than your purchasing account info being passed around the dark web.

How to Stay Ahead of Emerging Threats to IoT Devices?

There are many threats currently emerging to your IoT devices. Here are some ways to prevent yourself from falling prey.

Design Your Network for Data Protection First

Making sure that your network doesn’t share unnecessary permissions with an IoT device and that your IT department approves any device added to the network first can go a long way towards making any breaches that might happen less damaging. You can’t predict when a device might have a problem, so you should treat all of them like they potentially might have issues and keep them quarantined in the guest network. If you absolutely can’t, keeping your private network locked down will help to quarantine the damage.

Shop for Devices With Risk Management in Mind

When procuring new equipment for the office, remember to evaluate the support available for the device. Also, keep in mind that your IT services team will need to incorporate this new addition into their risk management strategies. This will help all your employees remember the potential downsides of a new IoT solution and avoid potential risks before entering the building.

Conduct Regular Network Security Training

Ensuring everyone updates their passwords, doesn’t open sketchy links, and maintains their data hygiene is a constant battle. Make sure to schedule at least a quarterly training that everyone on the network has to go through. These should include best practices for cybersecurity and IoT devices.

Reach Out to the Professionals at Systems Integration

It’s important to recognize where the limitations of your organization’s capabilities are and to play to your strengths. If you don’t have an IT department developed enough to handle all the needs we’ve discussed on top of their other duties, you should seriously consider getting external help.

We at Systems Integration are here to help you evaluate your system needs, including any IoT risks that may be present, so that you can conduct your business with confidence. Reach out to start a conversation today.

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