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Don't overlook IoT this National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

With October being National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, it is a good reminder that enterprises should be taking precautions around cybersecurity year-round. With IoT devices getting more sophisticated, more affordable and easier to come by, businesses need to make sure they are not overlooking securing these connected assets. The emergence of IoT hit quickly and it’s only going to continue to grow.

Because there’s an abundance of IoT devices available, enterprises often become overwhelmed by the sheer number of them. Everything from wearables to heat sensors to smart speakers is IoT-enabled and needs to be considered as enterprises adapt their security strategy to accommodate this growing category.

Knowing why IoT devices are susceptible to attack

In the IoT world, hackers don’t necessarily need malware to exploit the system. Sometimes vulnerabilities result from using default passwords or a telnet that’s mistakenly left open. Simply put, hackers can be very successful in an attack without having to do a lot of heavy lifting. With IoT, it’s an opportunity for someone to reach a more important target — while the device is the point of entry, they can go far beyond it to something that holds more valuable data. By hacking into something that seems as harmless as a smart speaker, a cybercriminal can access all types of sensitive information.

Understanding the risks of unauthorized IoT access

To prevent these types of attacks, enterprises must implement IoT security strategies and consider the various risks they are exposed to. By quantifying the risk of unauthorized access to these devices, it’s likely businesses will decide to invest more heavily in an effort to improve their IoT security measures. But this doesn’t require monetary investment alone. IT must also make a knowledge investment and take time to explain the proper security measures with employees. If employees are not educated on the risks and protocols, the security technologies that are implemented cannot as effectively mitigate risk. While this risk can certainly be related to dollars and the business bottom line, it could be much worse depending on the industry the device is being used in. Think about the risks of a smart medical device in a hospital being hacked — that could greatly affect the well-being of a patient. These types of breaches can be prevented, or remediated, as long as security teams prepare.

Implementing IoT security

To get started with IoT security implementation, enterprises must determine their big data strategy for IoT. With so much data available, how can the business secure the vast amount of information that’s produced by the sensors in these devices? Enterprises need to practice data-oriented IoT security with dynamic data correlation, analysis and intelligence to ensure protection. It’s also critical to be sure these new connected devices are protected against potential network intrusions and denial-of-service attacks. While today’s businesses have protocol for this today, the proliferation of IoT requires them to scale this across a much broader set of devices.

Preparing for the future IoT-enabled office

As employees begin to use IoT devices more frequently in their personal lives, they’ll expect to have the same capabilities at work. Employees are looking for the consumer experience in the workplace. If IoT devices allow them to be more productive, it’s up to IT teams to implement new protocols to ensure they are protected from security risks. With smart offices becoming popular in a range of industries, IT teams need to look at what’s on the horizon and how to ensure their companies are protected. With the smart office market predicted to double by 2023 to $46.11 billion, security teams should start preparing now.

When enterprises consider their IoT security strategies, they must look back to the basics — especially the impact mobile IoT alone has had on the workforce. It is critical for IT decision-makers to consider how mobile growth will continue to shape business operations. Research shows the global mobile workforce is set to reach 1.87 billion in 2022, which accounts for more than 40% of the global workforce. It’s clear mobile adoption isn’t slowing down, and employees rely on it to work from anywhere, at any time. IT teams need to prepare for the growing demands of employees, and increasingly popular smart offices, and protect their enterprises against potential risks.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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