Combating the Growing Threat to IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) has reshaped the tech landscape so fast, it can feel like tomorrow arrived a day early. The once-distant idea of a completely Internet-connected world is now simply business as usual, with a total of 8.4 billion devices around the world connected to the internet and forming the foundation of the IoT.

This movement will only continue to grow. According to research firm Gartner, the number of connected devices will reach over 20 billion by 2020. Furthermore, Gartner estimates that half of all business processes will incorporate the IoT in one form or another.  This growth in the IoT has been a boon for industries to grow their technology, products, and services. The IoT also makes remote work more efficient, information sharing more practical, and storage more accessible. All in all, the IoT is helping to bring the world together seamlessly, one device at a time.

Unfortunately, this network of devices can also be exploited — mainly by members of the dark web. Hackers and other cybercriminals abuse the interconnectedness of the IoT and create security issues that call for upgraded cybersecurity measures. Paradoxically, the benefit of the IoT is its greatest downfall: its connectivity gives hackers more access points to get into a network.

With the rise of the IoT, cyber threats are no longer limited to computers and servers. For example, in October 2016, hackers took over hundreds of IoT devices (from cameras to coffee makers) and used them to access popular sites — including Twitter, Netflix, Reddit, and Etsy, among others — sending so much traffic that the sites crashed. In another IoT-based attack in November 2016, hackers accessed the heating controllers for two buildings in Finland and configured the systems to never turn on — a big problem, considering the freezing temperatures during the winter months.

If you are using the IoT in your business operations, there are a few ways to protect your business. Below are some suggestions for how to keep your devices, network, and data secure at your business.

What Can You Do?

Stay Up To Date

Are you guilty of ignoring routine update notifications from your security software? While it may be tempting to delay them, there’s a reason manufacturers provide these security updates: to protect users from the newest cyber attacks and malware. Hackers can easily compromise outdated security systems and by keeping your devices up-to-date, you stay one step ahead.

Turning on ‘automatic updates’ on your company-owned computers is a great way to keep all of your systems up to date. It also helps ensure your employees don’t accidentally skip out on crucial updates.

You should also train your employees on security best practices, as well as cyber threat detection, to add another level of defense against security threats. Sentek Cyber specializes in cyber awareness training, which helps educate and inform your employees about how to defend themselves against potential threats.

Secure Your Network

Hackers make a beeline for your network because it gives them control over everything that is connected to it. Your network is the most direct route to the most information — and the best way to compromise your data.

To help protect your company data, familiarize yourself with security tools to monitor and secure your network. Options include firewalls, antivirus programs, anti-malware and ransomware protection software, and intruder detection programs.

If you are concerned about the strength of your current security systems, Sentek Cyber offers penetration testing and vulnerability assessments to help identify weaknesses or holes.

Encrypt Your Data

IoT devices create a unique challenge for encryption: you have to encrypt the data on each device differently and also manage the lifespan of the encryption keys. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” encryption method, which makes doing so especially difficult.

Despite these challenges, it’s worth implementing an encryption solution as part of your network. Encryption helps prevent “data sniffing” and protects data from being compromised. Consider methods for encrypting data in transit and data at rest, including full disk encryption, file encryption, and email server encryption.

Create Better Passwords

If your password is still the factory default, you should consider changing it immediately. Passwords are one of the easiest, most straightforward ways for attackers to access devices on your network. Using strong passwords helps to safeguard you, your network, and your devices from hackers.

If your business has shared logins or multiple accounts, consider investing in a password manager. Password managers help you easily store, manage, and share passwords internally. They can also assist in generating custom, complex passwords on demand.

Back Up Your Information

Cloud-based storage, whether in a private or public cloud, is a popular option because of its flexibility and easy access. However, it can be a good idea to keep a backup of your data offsite as a failsafe option. If your devices or network are compromised during a cyber attack, the offsite servers could help quickly restore your data.

Get Help

The IoT is continually changing business processes thanks to its interconnectedness, but this wider network of devices also means more potential points of entry for cybercriminals. Our cyber security experts at Sentek Cyber track top IoT trends and threats and can help assess your network security. We can test your current cybersecurity methods before developing safer, long-term solutions to manage your network and devices.

Sentek Global specializes in tomorrow’s solutions, delivered today, so that you can stay one step ahead of the constantly shifting threats to the IoT and your business operations. Contact us today to learn more.