The internet has connected the entire world through a huge network – more commonly known as the Internet of Things or IoT. This network consists of a large number of devices that are sending data over the internet without a lot of human intervention. As the use of smart technology is growing, so is the number of back-end developers and manufacturers. Customers are demanding their data be accessible from any device no matter where they are.
Although technology provides consumers with convenience, it also poses several security risks to companies and individuals. The reason is that smart devices make the network vulnerable to external threats. The same network that is being used to store sensitive company data is also used by employees to connect their smart devices.
What are the Risks Related to IoT security?
Due to the influx of independent devices being connected to a single network, the security of an IoT network is way more complicated than those which are connected with traditional networks. This makes IoT networks attractive for cybercriminals who can easily access information through the company printer, or the security camera, or any other device that is connected to the network. Unfortunately, every single device in your network can give access to sensitive company information.
Once the device is hacked by a cybercriminal, they can even control the actions remotely and create havoc in the system. Hackers can cause data breaches by employing malware attacks or ransomware attacks. If the criminals can hack into a large network of devices, they can cause DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks as well. This kind of attack floods the server of the victim with a huge number of requests in a limited time span, which causes the server to collapse.
"To ensure the security of your organization, all the devices in your IoT network need to be strong enough to withstand an outside attack"
How to Step-up the IoT security of your Organization?
To ensure the security of your organization, all the devices in your IoT network need to be strong enough to withstand an outside attack.
Here are some ways to step up the IoT security of your organization:
1. Changing Default Passwords
The first thing that you can do is change default passwords to strong, and unique passwords. Most of us have a habit of keeping default passwords and we don’t bother to change them. Organizations must ensure that their employees are in the habit of changing their default passwords. Moreover, the updated passwords must also be renewed after a certain period.
2. Establish a Separate Corporate Network
For the sake of advanced security, the corporate network must be separated from the vendor-managed network and the IoT devices that are connected along with it. VLANs can be used to keep the devices such as security cameras, HVAC systems, media-related devices, clocks, etc. to be separated. An Access Control List may also be regulated to limit the access of certain devices. This will enhance the security further and make sensitive procedures like smart card transactions more secure for customers.
3. Limit the Communication of IoT devices
It is not possible to prevent the communication of IoT devices completely with the external environment but organizations can limit the interaction. This will help to eliminate a major security threat and reduce IoT-related security risks considerably.
4. Limit Remote Access to IoT devices
A lot of security risks arise as cybercriminals can hack into the organization's system via a remote location. By putting certain checks on the remote accessibility there can be a notable improvement in the security of a system. If remote access is necessary, organizations can ensure that the personnel at the other end are using a system that has the same security features as their own.
This will help to regulate security features throughout the network. Moreover, certain staff must be employed to monitor the system once the remote access has been granted, and track any changes that take place in the system. This way any unusual login behavior can be noted and action can be taken immediately.
5. Run Vulnerability Scans Regularly
Vulnerability scans help to improve the health of the IoT system by detecting the devices that are connected. A vulnerability scanner can help reveal any network vulnerabilities and are great for companies that are looking for cheap solutions to enhance their IoT network security. Moreover, if a vulnerability scan is still out of your company’s reach, you may even run a free scan such as NMAP.
6. Proper Management of IoT devices
Ensuring that all IoT devices are properly managed can make a huge difference in the health of any IoT network. Proper management covers both local device management as well as remote device management. If your company is aware of the location of the remote devices, it will become easier to protect those devices and secure the network that connects them. Incorporating firewalls is also a good way to ensure the security of IoT networks and the devices connected with them.
How to step-up IoT security of your organization:
Change default passwords
Establish a separate corporate network
Limit communication of IoT devices
Limit remote access to IoT devices
Run vulnerability scans regularly
Proper management of IoT devices
A few simple procedures can go a long way when it comes to IoT device management and security. Businesses need to employ these security measures from the very start. Therefore, when the time comes to employ more advanced functionalities, it is not too difficult to build on these procedures.
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This story brought to you by David Smith.
Engineering IRL Guest Writer - David Smith
David Smith is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) specialized in Network and IoT Security and has spent most of his career in the APAC region, though he recently relocated from Shenzhen to San Francisco to be closer to family.