Is IoT Security on Your Mind?

Date : 9-6-2017

Is IoT Security on Your Mind?

The Internet of Things (IoT) offers many new opportunities which can be exciting, but they also have a shadow side for security. Discover the solution…

The Internet of Things (IoT) offers many new opportunities in both the commercial and personal space. While much of the IoT discussion revolves around new devices within the home, those same devices have an equal place in offices, retail units, medical facilities, and other spaces outside of the home. These opportunities are exciting, but they also have a shadow side for security. With IoT in its infancy, no single way to manage security has been developed. Different manufacturers use different protocols, exposing a range of access points within the home or the office. How do you provide security across a series of connected devices that are using different rule books?

Setting Up IT Security Systems

Your security system at home is rudimentary at best. Most WiFi routers have a password feature to prevent casual browsers logging onto your home network. We’re all used to changing passwords on a regular basis, using firewalls, implementing antivirus software, and not clicking on suspicious links in emails. Home users are getting more security savvy. But we rely on the products we buy to afford us some level of protection. IT security systems within businesses can be created in stages alongside the growth of the business. But businesses implement security measures as – and when – they’re needed. Smaller businesses can’t always afford to outsource their IT services, so they only hire specialists when something needs to be fixed. Ransomware attacks like WannaCry and Petya made people more cynical about internet-based attacks. As a result, computer users are more prepared than they were. Businesses are only now upgrading their systems to guard against such attacks.

But What About IoT Security?

The more devices you add to a network, the more points of access your network has. Mobile devices, desktop computers, and laptops all come with their own level of security. Many IoT devices don’t have this functionality. Manufacturers keep features to a minimum to ensure the devices don’t use too much power. Generic components appear across a wide range of devices. Users can’t always change default passwords or factory settings. All an attacker needs to do is enter those details, and they have access to the network. Those energy-saving smart bulbs become far less attractive if they’re a springboard for hackers. Gardner predicts there will be 20.8 billion connected things in use by 2020. Officials worry about the potential for the remote hacking of security cameras and vehicles. They also fear the recruitment of IoT devices to so-called “zombie” botnets. DDoS attacks like the one that took down Amazon, Twitter, and Netflix in late 2016 could become a regular occurrence. Both scenarios leave private data in a vulnerable position, which is problematic when privacy is already a concern.

What’s the Solution?

You don’t want a security strategy that just fixes problems – you want to prevent them. Manufacturers need to work with security providers to increase the level of security for each device. Lists of their default passwords make their way online – available to the highest bidder. Users, both at home and in the workplace, need access to change these details as soon as they’re plugged in. There should also be an easy way for users to apply new patches to address security flaws as they’re discovered. Historically, patches have been rare in their release, or difficult to implement. International security standards must be established, given the global nature of the IoT. This will require military, law, government, and intelligence agencies to work together to find solutions. Luckily, many organizations are already working to improve IoT security. If you’re worried, change any default passwords on the devices you already have – you can often access these settings using your smartphone. Using an app like our SURE Universal Remote lets you control and manage your smart devices from one easy-to-use interface. That saves you from downloading and learning new apps for each device. Finally, keep yourself up to date on changes to IoT security, both at home and at work. Over to you – share this article with colleagues or co-workers in IT and get their take on IoT security.  Together, we can make the IoT a safe space to share.

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