An internet of things (IoT) device is simply a smart gadget that connects to the internet. Many of these devices include everyday electronics and appliances equipped with internet connections through which they exchange data and synchronize with similar devices. The idea of IoT is catching on in various industries, particularly home automation, high-tech security, and manufacturing. In fact, it’s so popular that the global IoT market is worth about $1.3 trillion and counting.
IoT devices such as intelligent HVAC systems, security and surveillance systems, smart desks, and advanced communication systems are already common in many workplaces. This technology has truly transformed the modern workplace in several different ways, including:
- Automation of menial tasks
- Helpful digital work assistants
- Smart teleworking and telepresence tools
- Augmented workplace environment
Improved digital capabilities in the workplace help boost collaborations and work efficiency. But although business-specific IoT devices have their perks, they can also pose considerable security risks.
IoT security risks
Inconsistencies and a lack of standardization in IoT devices mean that critical security and compatibility oversights could easily create exploitable loopholes in the system. Most of these devices also run on hard-coded firmware with no discernable security features or any way to run patches or updates. Consequently, unsecured IoT devices form gateways for hackers to access corporate networks and other protected equipment.
IoT systems are easy and attractive targets for cybercriminals. According to the Threat Intelligence Report, it takes an average of only five minutes for a smart gadget to get attacked once connected to the internet.
Here are some of the most common cybersecurity threats facing IoT devices and networks:
- Malware and botnet attacks
- Crypto-mining with IoT bots
- Eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks
- Ransomware, siege, hijack, and DDoS attacks
- Unethical surveillance and espionage
How to protect your business from IoT-based threats
There is no standard way of protecting IoT devices from cyberattacks. However, here are a few general security practices that can reduce IoT security risks:
Choose your devices wisely
The consumer electronics market is awash with numerous types and builds of smart gadgets. Unfortunately, most of them are cheap white goods, hastily manufactured to capitalize on the high demand. But you can still find some premium, relatively secure devices from reputable brands. Go for products that give you some security control, especially software updates and access configurations.
Use a secondary network
If an IoT device gets compromised, hackers can find their way to the corporate network if they both share the same internet link or private WAN. Isolate all your IoT devices from any networks with sensitive or high-value nodes. Ideally, connect IoT devices to a separate dedicated network with an independent internet connection.
Disable automatic features
Some convenience features, such as automatic plug-n-play, data transfers, and connections, are little-known security risks. Ensure you have as much control of the system as possible by disabling non-essential automated features. Also, make a point of configuring automation protocols yourself to set restrictions on dangerous processes.
Provide IoT cybersecurity awareness training to users
Some employees lack basic cybersecurity awareness, making them susceptible to phishing scams and other social engineering attacks. Train your staff to handle IoT devices safely and identify threats. Emphasize the importance of observing security guidelines and cybersecurity best practices.
In a recent CISCO survey, 74 percent of entrepreneurs said their businesses would emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic. The main reason for that optimism is the valuable lessons learned from the crisis, such as a deep understanding of employee wellbeing and what workplace productivity really means. A majority of businesses will definitely improve their workplaces through technology to become more employee-friendly and promote a healthier work-life balance.
Implementing IoT technology in the workplace is one of the easiest ways to create a flexible, stress-free, and empowering work environment, as long as the inherent security risks are addressed.
Secure your business
Ensuring your employees and business devices are safeguarded against future attacks requires awareness and implementing the proper safety measures. If you have any questions about your business cybersecurity, reach out today and we would be happy to help.