Are your IoT devices letting hackers into your business?

IoT devices offer great potential for many businesses, but they also open up a range of new threats that firms must be aware of.

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is now something all firms have to consider when managing their networks. This is one of the biggest trends in the tech world right now and essentially refers to any internet-connected device that’s able to gather or exchange data and is designed for a specific purpose.

For many people, this term has commonly meant items such as smart sensors and appliances, including HVAC controls, security cameras or light fixtures, as well as the old cliche of the internet-connected fridge. But as technology evolves and big data and machine learning become commonplace, almost everything you interact with on a day-to-day basis can now be considered part of the IoT, from Wi-Fi beacons to your VoIP phones.

What IoT means for the workplace

This means no workplace is now complete without some IoT services. In fact, estimates from IDC suggest that by 2025, there will be more than 41 billion such devices in use by 2025, generating a total of 79.4 zettabytes of data – or almost 80 trillion gigabytes.

Indeed, data is the most important currency for many businesses in today’s world, and IoT will be where much of it is generated, processed and used.

Whether it’s customer behaviour data gathered from sensors in a retail store, location information from within your supply chain or details on the status of your office or warehouse, this offers businesses a huge amount of insight into their activities, allowing them to automate key processes or make better-informed decisions about their future direction.

However, with all this potential comes new threats. Hackers are increasingly turning their attention to IoT devices for a wide range of attacks, from gaining access to networks in order to exfiltrate sensitive data to planting ransomware or launching DDoS attacks. And the consequences of this can be severe for businesses, especially if such attacks compromise sensitive data and leave them open to large fines under legislation like GDPR.

The growing Cyber Security threat

IoT devices are especially attractive to criminals as they often do not have the same level of protections applied to them as traditional IT equipment. Many IoT devices are inherently less secure because of poor design, but even if they have security features, many businesses may not be aware of how to use them, or even know what vulnerabilities they have.

For instance, failing to change login details is a common cause of IoT security issues. A large number of IoT devices ship with very weak default passwords, but many admins that are not paying close attention to their IoT network do not realise this, so leave the door to their networks effectively unlocked. Other devices may be exchanging data without any sort of encryption or validation, leaving them exposed to hacks.

One of the first things firms need to do to address IoT vulnerabilities, therefore, is to ensure they have a complete picture of what devices are on their network and what protections are in place.

This may seem obvious, but research by the Ponemon Institute suggests only one in five IT pros can identify the majority of their company’s IoT devices, while fewer than half keep an inventory.

Once you have this, only then can you form a comprehensive cyber security plan for dealing with the security threats posed by IoT. Ultimately, it’s vital to treat every single device and connection as a potential vulnerability and make sure you’re putting in place the same robust defences as you would for any other part of your network.

What is IoT?

IoT stands for Internet of Things. It essentially refers to any internet-connected device that’s able to gather or exchange data and is designed for a specific purpose.

What are IoT Devices?

An Internet of Things device can be almost anything connected to the internet, like security cameras, smart sensors, appliances like your fridge or oven, light fixtures, etc.

Is IoT secure?

Internet of Things – IoT – devices are especially attractive to criminals as they often do not have the same level of protections applied to them as traditional IT equipment.

Is the Internet of Things safe?

IoT devices can be safe if used with cyber security protection. Failing to change login details is a common cause of IoT security issues. A large number of IoT devices ship with very weak default passwords.

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