Guest blog by Zac Amos, cyber security features writer
Internet of Things (IoT) technology has become indispensable in today’s business world. These technologies include devices, computers and sensors that share data to improve efficiency and allow for greater control over daily operations. Whether you’re looking to monitor performance, automate processes or get analysis and insights, IoT can deliver.
However, significant security concerns are associated with using IoT devices. Despite the efficiency and decision-making advantages, they’re often vulnerable to cyberattacks and other privacy issues. Learn more about what can make IoT the weak link in your cybersecurity system — and how to fortify those devices.
Why Are IoT Devices Vulnerable?
Despite their rapidly growing popularity in recent years, IoT devices and computers pose several significant challenges to your system. In fact, the more your business relies on IoT, the bigger the risks. A recent survey revealed that almost 70% of companies have suffered an IoT-based cyberattack.
Learn more about some of their most common vulnerabilities:
The interconnectedness of IoT technology is one of its biggest draws, but it’s also one of the riskiest features. Every device is like a door to your network. Exploiting one entrance lets bad actors into the rest of your system, leaving your data and other files unprotected.
In one instance, a casino was even hacked through its fish tank — the tank’s thermometer was connected to the wider network, giving hackers access to the entire system.
Weak Security Precautions
IoT systems are inherently vulnerable, so you might think business owners would take extra precautions to bolster security and protect their data. However, it turns out most don’t. In fact, many users don’t change the default passwords or security settings that come with IoT devices. You can even find lists of weak and frequently used IoT passwords online, which means hackers can, too.
Since IoT devices include computers, smartphones, security cameras and sensors, physical security is another concern. Many organizations don’t have protocols to restrict access to these devices or prevent theft.
IoT is constantly evolving, so older devices may use outdated technologies or follow less effective protocols. Obsolete security measures mean hackers can exploit these gaps and other bugs in IoT devices.
Another concern is integrating devices, especially when competing operational or security standards exist between items from various manufacturers or of different ages. Even government regulations about IoT and privacy protections are frequently changing, making it difficult to stay on top of the best solutions.
4 Ways to Secure Your IoT Network
All these complications are enough to give any business owner pause about implementing IoT devices. However, you can take steps to minimize the risks and make IoT work to your advantage — securely, of course.
1. Only Connect to Your Internal Network
One of the best precautions is to keep your devices on your internal network, not the open internet. Connecting to the internet means anyone with an online connection could access your system. Stay on your internal network, especially with IoT devices that don’t need to communicate with the outside world — like those fish tank thermometers, for example.
2. Change Your Passwords
Don’t rely on the default passcodes or other security settings that come with your devices. Create unique and strong passwords that cyberattackers won’t guess, and ensure access within your company is on a need-to-know basis. Adjust the security settings to work for you — make them as discerning as possible to minimize the risk of hackers getting through to sensitive data.
3. Disable Unnecessary Features
Much like checking the default security settings, you should examine all the features of your IoT devices and determine which are unnecessary. If you use a smartphone for business, remove any apps that aren’t essential to your work. Each extra app or feature is a potential door for bad actors to bust down and get into your system.
4. Work With Secure Manufacturers
As with any industry, some suppliers are more competent than others. Do your research to find IoT device manufacturers that go the extra mile to avoid vulnerabilities. Updated security measures and privacy protections allow your business to safely use IoT technologies to improve efficiency.
Avoiding IoT Technology Vulnerabilities
Your IoT devices don’t have to be the weakest link in your cybersecurity setup. Stay aware of the risks and take precautions to outsmart hackers to appreciate the advantages of this cutting-edge technology.