What is the Internet of Things & Does It Pose Any Risk to My Business?

You may have heard the term IoT, or the Internet of Things used but you may not understand completely what it means. The term refers to the ability for things in your home or in your business to communicate with the internet to help you control them or to gather data about your usage or about a device. It is most commonly referred to when talking about smart thermostats, lights, and security features, but there are so many things gaining this ability these days.

I used to joke that so many things were becoming smart that soon we would have smart water bottles. Apparently, the joke is on me though, because we absolutely have smart water bottles that can measure your water intake.

As more and more things become “smart” they can help you become more productive, and even help businesses become proactive about issues before they arise. Manufacturing companies are using IoT devices to predict failures in their production line before they halt business operations. They can also help to gather data about the production line, so you have exact numbers on how efficient staff and machines are at any given moment.

With the productivity gain of these devices, there can be some security risks to your business. Since these devices communicate over the internet, there is a potential for them to become compromised. It can be much easier for an attacker to gain access to one of these devices, as security may not be great on the device itself.

Once they have access to your network, they will be able to execute malicious scripts on other devices on the network. IoT devices can essentially leave a small door or window open for these malicious people.

Another problem with IoT devices is that they are not frequently updated. Often you plug in a device and forget about it. You are often not notified when there is a security update for the device, and even if you are aware of an update, it can be difficult to figure out how to get the update to the device.

2 things you can do to help secure your network from IoT devices:

Add the device to a guest network

Guest networks are a great way to keep devices with undesirable┬ásecurity away from your critical business data. It is wise to keep all secondary devices on the guest network since you often don’t have control over whether it receives┬áregular updates and if there are other security risks already on the device itself. Companies should always have employees join their phones and other personal devices, like smart picture frames, to the guest wifi network instead of the main corporate network. IoT devices should also be joined to the guest network to keep the security risk at bay.

Look for and apply regular updates

Make sure you are notified when updates are available for your IoT devices and apply them right away. Most updates will patch security holes in the system, and if not resolved right away could leave you open to attack, since the attackers already know what those holes are.

If you follow these tips you should be able to see the productivity increase from your IoT devices AND keep your business data and network secured from attackers.

 

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