IoT security has been a constant source of worry for enterprise leaders ever since advanced technology has created new ways for cybercriminals to attack networks. Even though companies are often secured against common digital attacks, the Internet of Things is a relatively new concept that has opened up a whole new avenue of connected devices and has increased the risks faced by the companies as a result. But it may be the hidden IoT security threats that will cause the most damage because they may be overlooked.
The truth is, modern businesses provide lucrative gateways for hackers due to the absence of proper security measures. Devices as seemingly nonthreatening as a wireless printer or smartwatch or a fitness band can cause a lot of damage when connected to the corporate network because they are relatively unprotected against new threats like malware and ransomware. Given the unpredictability of the situation, it is crucial to know the hidden threats that stem from the lack of IoT security. Find out more below.
Types of devices that leave the company vulnerable
60 percent of IoT devices tested in the HPE Internet of Things Research Study revealed problems with their user interfaces, including weak credentials and persistent XSS. What this means is that almost every connected app or device is a possible threat as it offers an attack vector that can be potentially capitalized by adversaries. Most of the threats stem from devices such as smartphones, USB drives, wearable fitness devices, and smart building technology. These gadgets collect data from their users, often without their knowledge, and where this data is stored or who can access this information is not clear – which puts every company under possible danger. Protection of these devices is extremely important so that none of the financial systems and critical infrastructure are under attack.
There is the possibility of securing IoT devices, but the process can be highly complex, especially in a business environment where employees take their own wearables to the workplace. However, the implementation of proactive protection measures as well as education among the employees using just their own or company-issued smartphones at work can form a strong security posture that decreases the number of these hidden IoT security threats.
There are approximately 15 billion connected devices throughout the world, and this proliferation has caused serious problems and unintended consequences. This number is only going to grow as more and more connected devices start to play an integral role in the daily lives of the workers. However, the lack of refined security measures for IoT means that companies are going to be targeted by more criminals, and they are going to conscript these IoT devices into botnets or networks of hijacked computers to enhance the range and frequency of these attacks, flood servers, or cause chaos in general on a targeted website. Businesses can deal with such threats by updating the software on smart gadgets, researching the security policies carefully, focusing on device specifications before purchase, and protecting devices with security solutions, such as antiviruses, VPN software, end-point protection, and encryption.
Awareness of the threat
There have been many cases where enterprise leaders automatically assume that IoT devices are safe and secure. However, additional threats will always be around, and if not properly handled, they can expose vital security problems. The companies must take into account the sensitivity of the data, and then work on coming up with an effective method of protecting the data.
One assumption is that the risk posed by a particular IoT device depends upon its functionality. For example, not many people would bat an eyelid if the WiFi-enabled air conditioning system got compromised, thinking it is a contained event. However, the truth is a lot more complicated than you think – by exploiting the vulnerability in the AC, attacks can infiltrate the WiFi network and gain access to more valuable data and devices. This is the reason IoT must be comprehensive in nature and be implemented in the form of a system.
Organizations are often sorely unprepared to handle the various security issues posed by IoT. Companies have yet to think about areas such as vulnerability management, bandwidth requirements, and DDoS attacks, but in reality, these should be a priority for companies of all sizes right now. Security can no longer be treated as “nice to have” – it affects a business in various ways and should be implemented by employees at every level.
Methods for protection
IoT devices create a lot of meaningful and convenient work experiences, and that is going to increase as more connected devices are introduced into the workspace. However, that also ramps up the risk factor, which is why data must be secured consistently from the edge all the way to the datacenter, focusing mainly on privacy-related data.
Companies must now make it a point to formally educate their staff regarding the dangers of bringing their own devices into the workplace and using them to access sensitive information owned by the company. They must alert employees about connecting only to protected and safe WiFi networks and ensuring the security software has been installed, updated, and activated on all devices connected to the company network.
The proper thing to do in this case would be to devise a policy around devices in the workplace, which would include points like:
- The personnel who are eligible to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to the workplace.
- Documenting the make and models of the devices that are allowed.
- The cloud services employees are allowed to access for business reasons.
- Educating employees on the consequences of not adhering to the laid-out IoT security policy.
- Creating blacklists as well as whitelists of devices for the employees.
Companies must also implement the total threat defense lifecycle for their companies. These are measures that are meant protect employees, detect threats, and correct any mistakes. It is best to work with company-owned IoT devices that implement good security, especially when they’re connected to the network. Whitelisting is a good way to prevent any kind of malicious code from running. Encryption might also be required to protect the data properly without any sort of hassle.
IoT devices are capable of doing a lot of things for your business when handled properly. But the slightest breach can cost you dearly. This is why you should know the threats that IoT actively poses and then work your way toward a solution – one that is tactically and strategically planned to counteract those dangers. Prompt action and careful attention will be key to helping organizations take down these hidden IoT security threats.
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