The Internet of Things (IoT) has helped businesses advance competitively, offer new services, and grow. It provides the capability to track terabytes of data in real time and allows stakeholders to make data-driven decisions. However, with 14.3 billion on-ramps to IoT networks, security remains a challenge. Every IoT-connected device or sensor is a potential access point for hackers and cybercriminals.
Fortunately, some practical measures can reduce that risk for businesses. Ensure your applications and customers don’t fall prey to these missteps.
Mistake 1: Ignore hardware’s support for security.
Some IoT devices have limited security capabilities due to their design. Limitations like small computing capacity and low power functionality mean that security applications are also limited. To counteract this threat, IT teams should have visibility to the organization’s IoT endpoints and know what data is on their IoT devices.
Some hackers may use malicious node injection attacks by inserting their own devices into their victim’s network. Vigilant monitoring of all devices connected to your organization’s network will help quickly identify malicious nodes and neutralize the threat before it’s too late.
If you have devices deployed years ago, they may need to be updated to new versions of those devices capable of running the security applications you need. Hackers are known to study firmware vulnerabilities and attack devices known to be vulnerable.
Mistake 2: Don’t enforce encryption.
Many IoT devices use no data encryption. It could be an oversight, or it could be due to the lack of an agreed-upon standard for data encryption. Either way, it creates risks. According to Forrester Research, 98 percent of all IoT data is not encrypted.
However, if you are transmitting sensitive data across an IoT, you need to make sure it is encrypted. Chances are, today, it isn’t.
Mistake 3: Allow employees to use simple passwords.
Lazy password management is an invitation to cyberattacks. Passwords must be strong, i.e., using upper and lower case letters, symbols, and numbers, and employees should change them often. Allowing employees to use passwords like “123456” or default passwords makes it easier for threat actors to use brute force attacks or guess to gain access to the system.
Furthermore, businesses shouldn’t rely only on passwords to protect their IoT systems. Two-step authentication, which requires biometric authentication, a one-time code, or other methods to confirm the user’s identity, is also a standard practice for organizations serious about protecting their systems and their data.
Mistake 4: Don’t train employees on the importance of cybersecurity.
IoT security requires everyone to be vigilant to fend off attacks. Train customers and your own employees to spot phishing attempts to reveal their passwords and logins. Ensure your organization has well-developed acceptable use policies and your employees understand and comply with them.
Mistake 5: Don’t back up data.
Despite the best IoT security precautions, some attacks succeed. If the worst happens, or, rather, when the worst happens, it’s best to be able to restore as much clean data as possible. Ensure that a system is in place to back up data with acceptable recovery point objectives and recovery point time objectives (RPOs and RTOs) to allow the organization to get back to work after a malware or ransomware attack.
The Benefits of IoT, with No Mistakes
IoT technology has the potential to help businesses innovate, expand, grow their revenues, and enhance their customer’s experiences. The industry is not close to realizing the full potential of the IoT. However, to get there, systems must be secured.
Security solutions are essential to protecting these networks, but simply avoiding common mistakes can also go a long way toward protecting valuable systems, data, and digital assets. Take a layered approach to strengthen IoT security.