How To Improve IoT Cybersecurity

Living in an Internet of Things (IoT) landscape, cybersecurity is now more relevant than ever. IoT is referred to as a system of interconnected day to day objects in our world– computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, animals, or people in our environment – that can be uniquely identified with the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction, in other terms, machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. The adoption of IoT has brought many benefits to organisations, such as increase operational efficiency, provide better understanding of customers to deliver enhanced customer service, and improve decision-making processes.

However, with great power comes great responsibility. In an age where almost every device is connected to the Internet, we are even more vulnerable to threats, because not only do we have to worry about physical threats such as fires, theft or break-ins, but we also must worry about virtual threats such as malware and hacking. According to Mike Nelson, Vice President of IoT Security at DigiCert, “…the IoT is about connecting things to create new, actionable data.  Anytime connectivity is introduced into a system, cyber risks go up. If left unsecured, this connectivity can open backdoors into the organization’s network.”

Therefore, it is imperative for organisations to have a proper cybersecurity strategy in place to prevent sensitive information or data from being stolen. Here are some ways you can improve IoT cybersecurity:

Implement More Than One Security Feature

Security features for your network can be in the form of antivirus, anti-malware, firewalls and intrusion detection and prevention systems. It is also useful to implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) and biometric systems to ensure that unauthorized parties cannot access your devices. As MFA requires one or more additional verification factors rather than just asking for a username and password, it makes it more difficult to for hackers to gain access. 

Authenticate Your IoT Devices

With so many IoT devices that are available in the market and the fact that we can obtain them through various means such as getting a vendor to help procure devices that are otherwise unavailable in our local markets, organisations need to be careful to only use IoT products from reliable vendors. This means doing your due diligence and research to verify that a manufacturer integrates adequate security measures into their IoT products and provides ongoing updates and support. After purchase, a security assessment should also be conducted against each device to change default usernames, passwords, or other default configurations to the most secure settings possible.

Educate Your Employees About IoT Security

All the security features and patch tests in the world will not be enough if your employees do not know about IoT security. It is important to ensure that everyone working in and for your organisation – even the interns – has a strong understanding of cybersecurity best practices. This involves knowing about common cyber threats and attack methods, security policies, expectations, and penalties for violations. For example, employees should not share access to the organisation’s network and devices with anyone outside of the company, even with close family members. Employes that bring their own devices (BYODs) to connect to the organisation’s network is also a security risks.  Users must educated to constantly update their virus profile to protect against the latest threats.

Implement IoT Security Analytics and Perform Regular Penetration Tests

Aside from enforcing physical policies and procedures, you can drastically change the number of security issues you face by implementing security analytics. This involves collecting, correlating, and analyzing the data from multiple sources regularly, which can help IoT security providers by assisting in identification of potential threats. Alternatively, you can hire ethical hackers or Security Operations Centers (SOCs)  to poke and prod at your cybersecurity defenses to search for weaknesses to exploit and also to monitor for threats. By doing this, you can figure out potential ways an unethical hacker can try to compromise your systems and data before they do – you won’t know whether your network security is strong enough until you have tested how vulnerable it is.

Apply Patches and Updates Regularly to All Systems’ Software and Firmware

It is important to ensure that your IoT devices software and firmware always has the latest updates installed. No matter how many security tools and measures you have in place, you are still at risk if your devices have unpatched vulnerabilities – old software and firmware means hackers have had time to learn how to hack into them. Whenever manufacturers release updates, apply them to your devices and systems as soon as possible – simply turning on the “automatically check for updates” feature will make this task easier.

Besides the measures listed above, there are many more ways to improve IoT cybersecurity. This is because the IoT is constantly growing and changing, which means we must learn and adapt accordingly. The easiest way to manage and monitor security challenges to your IoT is to hire a tech solutions expert to help you out. With over 20 years of experience in connecting and securing businesses, contact EKTECH to secure your organisation’s IoT cybersecurity today!

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