As the number of IoT devices continue to soar, so do the security risks associated with their presence. Implementing IoT security best practices should be top of mind for CIOs.
Over the past several years, Internet of Things (IoT) technology has had a major impact on the enterprise, leading some to herald its widespread adoption as a modern-day industrial revolution. This praise is not unfounded — IoT products and services are creating incredible opportunities for organizations of all shapes and sizes.
IoT devices come in many forms and solve an array of issues across many verticals. Whether it’s wearables shaking things up in manufacturing, smart buildings optimizing office connectivity, or smart sensors finding efficiencies in healthcare, IoT devices are helping us solve our problems with more speed than ever before. Accordingly, new reports show that 94 percent of enterprise executives identify digital transformation — especially as it relates to IoT adoption — as a top priority.
Given all of these amazing opportunities, it’s no surprise that IoT is proliferating at an incredibly rapid pace. Gartner predicts there will be over 20 billion IoT devices in use by the end of 2020, which is nearly 15 billion more devices in circulation than just four years ago. Moreover, the global market for IoT devices currently sits near $190 billion — and onlookers predict that the market will register a compound annual growth rate of over 21 percent until 2026, when the industry will exceed one trillion dollars.
Although many are excited about IoT devices and their potential to solve age-old pain points in a variety of industries, it can be easy to overlook some of their downsides. IoT devices pose tremendous security risks to networks. There were over 32.7 million malware attacks in 2018 (up 215 percent since 2017). What’s more, the first half of 2019 has already outpaced the first half of 2018 by 55 percent, meaning IoT malware is still on the rise, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
At the end of the day, it is unwise to adopt IoT without some consideration of your security strategy. The first step in developing robust IoT security is to understand why these devices are so susceptible to attacks in the first place. IoT devices add a significant number of endpoints to a network. Since cyber criminals frequently target endpoints when they want to gain backdoor entrance onto a network, it stands to reason that adding thousands of devices to your network, increases your odds of being hit with a cyber attack. In fact, a recent report reveals that it only takes an average of five minutes for an IoT device to be attacked once it is connected to the Internet.
Moreover, when a cyber criminal targets IoT devices, they are typically attempting to carry out a botnet attack. A botnet attack is a method of attack in which a criminal will dump malware onto tons of connected devices to gain control over them. Once they have control of a large number of devices, they will use them to distribute malware onto a network, exfiltrate sensitive data, or carry out a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.
A good way to mitigate the security risks associated with IoT devices is to limit their connectivity wherever possible. Not every IoT device needs to be connected to the web to function — they just need to be connected to other devices. The fewer devices connected to the internet, the fewer endpoints you have on the surface of your network.
Additionally, it is advisable to control permissions for what individual devices are allowed to download and share on the internet. For example, a smart printer should have permission to connect to Best Buy’s website to purchase more toner when it runs low, but it doesn’t need the ability to link with other WiFi devices on your network.
Sadly, most IoT manufacturers don’t offer security updates for their devices, which means you have to compensate by staying extra vigilant with password security wherever possible. It’s advisable to also implement multi-factor authentication for added security.
Firewalls are one of the most effective ways to keep your network secure in the event of an attempted IoT breach. As a best practice, be sure to fortify any weak known points in your network with a firewall. This way, if a breach does occur, the damage will be contained to only that device or system.
When it comes to network security, It’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive. One of the best ways to do so is to monitor suspicious network activity that might that might indicate a bad actor has managed to breach a device. The quicker you identify a potential attempt at a breach, the faster you can prevent or mitigate its damage.
As long as IoT devices continue adding value to the enterprise, CIOs can expect to see more of them brought into the workplace. But as the number of IoT devices increases, so too will the number of bad actors looking to take advantage. Luckily, you don’t have to face these challenges alone — that’s where Turn-key Technologies, Inc. (TTI) comes in.
With nearly three decades of enterprise IT experience, TTI has the expertise necessary to help businesses build strong networks equipped to handle IoT devices in the workplace. A partnership with our experts can help you build a network capable of meeting the needs of today, as well as the future.
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