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How to Enhance IoT Security in the Corporate Environment

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For many industrial and corporate companies, the emergence of Internet of Things (IoT) devices has brought numerous benefits and opportunities. These innovations have significantly improved efficiency and productivity, creating a more connected environment for your businesses to operate in.

The popularity of these devices is also forecasted to grow at an unprecedented rate, with an estimated 29 billion IoT devices connected to the internet by 2030. This means the potential for this technology to revolutionize the corporate world is immense.

However, with the growth of IoT comes new challenges, particularly regarding cybersecurity. The vast amount of data these devices collect and their interconnectivity makes them an attractive target for cyber attacks.

Why Is IoT Security Important in the Corporate Environment?

IoT security is essential to protect these devices, the networks they operate on, and the data they collect and store from bad actors. Securing IoT devices can involve many different steps, from implementing physical security measures to requiring employees to use multi-factor authentication to keep IoT data confidential but accessible to relevant parties.

Further, IoT devices have become a crucial part of many business environments. These devices have multiple uses, like managing industrial processes, keeping track of inventory levels, and gathering customer data. And with IoT blending with AI, the scope of these items is only set to grow.

A breach in IoT security can seriously impact your organization, resulting in the loss of sensitive information and data - and ultimately impacting your finances and overall reputation. Because of these potential consequences, it's vital to understand the nuances of IoT security to ensure the data collected by these devices stays protected.

Types of IoT Attacks

To effectively secure IoT devices, you must first understand the cybersecurity risks they face. Here are some common types of IoT cyberattacks to be aware of:

Ransomware

Although ransomware has primarily been used to target computers and servers, it's also used to exploit IoT devices. Ransomware attacks can deny your business access to critical data or control devices since payment is demanded before your access can be restored.

Hackers rely on your organization's desire to regain access to your data, which makes you more likely to pay the ransom. Moreover, IoT devices such as medical equipment or industrial machinery can cause real-life consequences for clients and employees alike if they're compromised.

Botnets

Botnets refer to a network of malware-infected software that an attacker controls. They can have thousands of IoT devices and are mainly applied for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. The attacks will then overload your server or website with massive traffic, causing it to crash and become inaccessible to legitimate users.

An example is the 2016 Mirai botnet attack, which targeted Domain Name System (DNS) provider Dyn. The attack disrupted major websites like Amazon, PayPal, and Netflix, causing significant financial losses. With the increasing number of unsecured IoT devices, they have become a prime target for hackers to exploit in botnet attacks.

Malware Attacks

Traditional malware attacks like viruses and worms have long been used to target computers, but they can also target IoT devices. What's more, hacking into one vulnerable piece of equipment can allow it to spread throughout an entire network.

One company that has been a victim of a malware attack is Marriott International. In 2014, the hotel chain suffered an intrusion on its central reservation system due to compromised equipment that revealed the information of over 500 million guests. This illustrates the danger this attack can cause if IoT devices aren't adequately secured in your organization.

Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Attacks

MitM attacks happen when a hacker intercepts the communication between two pieces of equipment and inserts themselves in the middle of that communication. For example, they can eavesdrop on data being transferred between an IoT device and a server or alter the data being sent. MitM attacks can take sensitive information, such as passwords or financial data, or manipulate them to carry out unauthorized actions.

Knowing what these attacks are and how they work can help your business implement appropriate security measures to protect their IoT devices.

IoT Security Best Practices

It's crucial to have a comprehensive security strategy to protect IoT tools in the corporate environment. The following best practices can help your organization and your clients stay secure:

Conduct a Risk Assessment

The first step to protecting IoT devices is understanding the potential risks and vulnerabilities they pose to your company. A risk assessment should include evaluating the security features of each of your devices, as well as that of the IoT platforms you use and the data being collected and transmitted. Taking these into account will help you identify and protect against the most pertinent security threats.

Routinely Update Systems and Software

Keeping IoT devices updated with the latest security patches can address known vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. Make sure your team regularly updates and monitors each device to ensure they remain secure. Ask your team to speak up if they observe any suspicious activities.

Train Employees

Individuals are often the cause of security breaches in IoT devices. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, around 95% of cybersecurity issues come from human error.

An example of a common threat many people become victims of is phishing attacks, where hackers use deceptive emails or messages to trick employees into revealing sensitive information. Educating employees on identifying these attacks is key to reducing the risk of a security breach.

Adhere to Essential Best Practices

Even with the advanced solutions available today, low-tech security measures are still needed to create a comprehensive foundation for IoT protection. Low-tech offline strategies like maintaining physical security and third-vendor assessments are essential since they can also guard against common, but not always prioritized, sources of vulnerability.

For instance, individuals can easily gain unauthorized access to proprietary or sensitive information if your company devices or servers are left unsecured or unattended. Ensuring these items are stored behind a locked door when not in use makes it that much harder for bad actors to log into your systems or even steal devices entirely.

Furthermore, for organizations that deal with multiple vendors, including a rigid security assessment in the procurement process can help ensure that everything meets the required security standards. The procedure should include questionnaires that assess the vendors' security protocols, processes, and certifications. These assessments can help your organization select vendors that prioritize security and minimize the risk of a breach through a third party.

Apply Cutting-edge Security Solutions

However, with the growing sophistication of IoT cyberattacks, including the latest security solutions to help your organizations keep up with the fast-evolving threats is just as essential. Staying aware of and being willing to explore upcoming cybersecurity trends like AI and machine learning, threat intelligence sharing, and quantum-safe encryption are just the start of what might be possible in the near future.

IoT devices are essential tools for your company to improve efficiency, production, and customer experience. However, as the number of connected equipment increases, so does the potential for cyberattacks. A combination of preventive measures, employee training, and advanced security solutions can help your organization safeguard your software against potential threats.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beau Peters 

Beau Peters is a creative professional with a background in service and management. He is also an avid researcher and a writer of “all the things.” He has a passion for purpose-driven content and bettering the human experience. In his free time, he enjoys having a good cup of coffee and seeing the world.
Published Monday, December 11, 2023 7:32 AM by David Marshall
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