Internet of Things and Security Risks

29th November 2016
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Internet of Things IoT Security Risks

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to when everyday objects are connected to a network, allowing them to send and receive data. From a business standpoint, your devices are all set to become ‘smarter’ and, by definition, they should also become more useful to your business. They will do this by sending you key data to be analysed so that you can make improved business decisions. Before you start on your Internet of Things (IoT) journey, it is vital that you mitigate your security risks, just like you would for any other devices on your network.

To be useful, your IoT devices are most likely going to be generating a lot of data that will need to access your corporate network to be stored, analysed and presented in a meaningful form. The more IoT devices you have, such as sensors on key equipment, cameras etc, the greater the risk to your network and the more susceptible you are to attack. This is especially true when those devices have not been developed with security and updates in mind. As your defense is only as strong as your weakest link, you may inadvertently introduce a massive weak link to your network that will make you vulnerable, both now and in the future.

With the concept of interconnected devices and the Internet of Things being so new, there are currently very few accepted standards that govern how to securely connect devices that have network connectivity to your organisation’s IT infrastructure safely. As manufacturers are in such a rush to create the next business transforming device and gain key market and mind-share, security is often not a high priority. This is evidenced by the recent attack on the Ukraine power grid and the huge increase in ransomware attacks via IoT devices.

With Gartner predicting 26 billion IoT devices in circulation by 2020 and IoT vulnerabilities opening up new possibilities for hackers, you need to put the mechanisms in place to secure your valuable data, your customer’s data and your IT infrastructure. That is especially true of devices that have long lifespans that have not been designed or are unlikely to ever receive regular security updates.

With predictions that up to 30% of all cyber attacks by 2020 will involve internet of things devices, there are a number of suggested security best practices to prevent data loss and hijacking.

Internet of Things Security Best Practices:

  • Follow current software, security and cryptography best practices for your IoT devices.
  • Introduce restrictive IoT communication by default.
  • Ensure that core IoT device functionality works even without network connectivity.
  • Update and patch your devices where possible.
  • Use device naming and IP addressing best practices.
  • Discover whether device functionality can be remotely limited by the manufacturer.
  • Educate your team about IT security best practice.
  • Carry out regular IT security reviews.

By thinking carefully about your network design, taking the time to understand how your devices will connect to the network and how they will inter-operate with each other, you can ingrain security best practices into your setup from the start. That will go a long way to mitigating your IoT security risk.

As with any new technology, there are risks. By focusing on the security risks and balancing them with the benefits that your IoT devices will bring, you can gain incredibly useful insights as you continue to evolve and transform your business.

Are you looking at taking advantage of Internet of Things for your business? Contact us on 0333 123 0360 or contact us online to discover how we can help reduce your risk and help ensure that you remain secure.

Learn more about our IT Security Services.

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