Are your business' smart devices contributing to security risks?

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Date: 16 April 2021

A man uses his smartwatch at work

As our increasingly digitalised world keeps expanding, we're seeing more and more devices being connected to the internet, creating the largest "internet of things," or IoT, that we've ever seen. Nowadays, everything is connected to the internet - from refrigerators to televisions to smartphones, computers, tablets, watches, and so much more. With so many devices connected to the internet at once, security concerns are abundant. What if millions of devices are connected at once that are unsecured? What risks does this pose for a business? For the individual?

While there's certainly no way around this growing trend, as everything we do is moving towards a digital space, there are ways to prevent cyberattacks and protect information; even when thousands of devices can potentially be connected to a single network. Navigating this IoT as a company can be a challenge, especially when the number of cyberattacks rose by 400% during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic - a time when thousands of businesses were making the transition to remote work.

Are your business' devices contributing to your security risks? Let's take a look.

A growing IoT

When we think of accessing the internet, most of us think of smartphones, tablets, or computers. But, in truth, most new technology and software is being created to access the internet for updates, security protocols, and to gather information. The internet of things is ever-growing, connecting things you never thought would need an internet connection to the worldwide web. Some connected devices you might not be aware of include:

  • home security systems/smart homes
  • virtual and augmented reality headsets
  • smart contact lenses
  • motion detectors
  • air quality sensors
  • doorbell cams
  • smart locks

It's strange to think of something like a door lock being connected to the digital space, but it's happening, and the number of devices on the internet of things only grows every year. That being said, what does this mean for businesses?

Well, the problem with having several devices connected to a network at once is that it's much more difficult to track threats across multiple devices. Imagine having a piece of industrial equipment connected to a network, only to have it hacked and the entire network compromised. Who would have thought a hacker would choose an industrial cookie cutter to access your network? Security for IoT devices needs to be more comprehensive and complete, and a simple antivirus simply isn't cutting it nowadays.

The risks

Certain sectors are more prone to potential attacks via their IoT devices, and manufacturing is one such sector. Manufacturing equipment can be hijacked just like a smartphone or computer, and once it's hijacked, you'll have difficulty getting it back if you're using outdated tools (or not using any cybersecurity tools). Data breaches, identity theft, device hijacking, spoofing, data siphoning, and denial of service attacks are just a few risks that industrial IoT devices face on a daily basis.

That being said, any sector can potentially be under attack through the IoT, but it's important to be aware of devices you wouldn't normally think about.

Where to start

First and foremost, you'll need to upgrade your company's cybersecurity tools. If you're just using an antivirus, you're not doing enough to protect yourself or your data. There are hundreds of options out there, but when it comes to complete security and AI protection, SentinelOne is the industry leader.

Once you have the right tools in place, it's time to address company practices. Do you have strict cybersecurity protocols in place? Are they followed by everyone in the company? If not, it's time to revamp the company's security protocols and demand compliance from both internal and external sources. That means your third-party vendors and customers need to follow your security protocols as well.

Next, you need to address simple things like Wi-Fi security, passwords, and good cybersecurity habits from employees. Don't allow employees to access their remote desktops from personal devices if you can help it. If you have employees working from home, be sure you're monitoring what they do on company devices. Encourage the use of strong, unique passwords, as well as multi-factor authentication whenever possible.

The importance of awareness

The most important tool in your arsenal is awareness. That's why you're reading this article, after all. But it's not enough for you to be made aware of modern threats - you also need to make your employees aware, so that everyone can recognise a potential threat. Also, most people won't imagine a cyberattack coming from something like an industrial machine, so be sure to educate your employees on the importance and vulnerabilities of IoT devices.

The bottom line

While smart devices certainly are a security device when they're mishandled, the right protection can ensure that your business remains secure. Remember that education and training can help boost the efficacy of the cybersecurity tools you buy. If you're looking for complete AI protection, check out SentinelOne today.

Copyright 2021. Sponsored post by Gary Wilkinson, Link Kings Agency

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