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How to Protect IoT Field Devices From System Breaches

In the growing internet of things, security is becoming a much more serious concern for businesses.

Nowadays it feels like everything is connected to the internet. Even some appliances connect to the web and download updates! Where there’s a connection to the web, there’s the potential for that connection to be exploited for negative purposes. Protecting IoT devices is now a top priority for businesses of all sizes, and we’re going to show you how to do it.

Don’t Underestimate the Risk

The first mistake most businesses make when it comes to the IoT is the risk involved. When you think of something like an industrial machine or an appliance, the last thing that comes to mind is a hacker somehow worming his way into your system via the smart fridge. The sad fact is that every connected device is a potential gateway to your network, and it’s time to start taking that more seriously.

2019 saw its fair share of IoT device vulnerabilities, as you’ll see in this list of the top ten IoT disasters from that year. One such incident involved smart home deadbolts. A vulnerability was discovered that caused those deadbolts to unlock, leaving homes vulnerable to burglary and other threats. The bottom line? The IoT isn’t safe by default, and it’s up to us as consumers and businesses to take the necessary steps to protect any devices that connect to the web.

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Check Your IoT Device Security Before You Use It

IoT devices often come with their own security features, but it’s important to triple-check those features and add your own protection before you implement it. Throwing a stock IoT device into your network is a bad idea, especially when not enough IoT providers take security seriously.
This framework for industrial internet security can help you assess the security of your IoT devices before you implement them.

Don’t Forget Those Vendors

The vendors you do business with on a daily basis can just as easily put your entire business at risk as an employee can via IoT devices. It’s easy to overlook vendors, but think about what a vendor does for you. They deliver supplies to your business, use their own software to update inventory, and might even access your network for their own IoT devices.

It’s critical that you vet your vendors/suppliers to ensure they’re taking proper safety and security precautions with their IoT devices. A simple oversight can leave your company vulnerable to a data breach, which can cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle.

Have A Plan

The best way to plan for a data breach is to assume that your company might be breached at some point in time. It’s always better to plan ahead for any possibilities than to write off even the most minute possibilities and then have to live with the consequences. Have a plan in place for your IoT devices. What will you do if a device is breached? If a vendor is breached? If an employee causes a breach? How does the company react, and where do you go from there? How will you cover your expenses?

IoT devices aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they’re continuously finding new applications at the enterprise level, so now is a better time than ever to ensure their security and reliability.

Audit Yourself

This is where most businesses, especially smaller organizations, fall short. They either lack the knowledge, the means, or the financial ability to perform an audit of their cybersecurity framework. Unfortunately, this isn’t something you can just skip over. It’s important to invest in your company’s security, especially since the world is moving more and more into digital spaces. Auditing your own IT and cybersecurity infrastructure and practices is the single best way to ensure you’re well-protected.

Be sure to include all of your IoT devices in your audit. Crack down on poor employee habits like reusing passwords, not connecting to the network securely, or sharing company information. Remember that your employees can be your company’s greatest strength or greatest weakness, and it’s up to you to ensure they have the tools and knowledge to perform well.

Sometimes, it’s helpful to have an extra set of eyes looking at the problem. Consider hiring an outside firm once in a while to perform an external audit. That way, you can catch things your internal team might have missed and bring a new perspective to your company’s overall cybersecurity.

Final Thoughts

IoT devices are here to stay, which means we need to focus more on their overall security in order to protect individual and company systems from cyber threats. Consider performing a yearly audit, using endpoint security software, and checking the security features of any IoT you use in your business.