You may be familiar with consumer-level IoT devices, often called ‘Smart Home’ technologies. For instance, you might ask Alexa to turn on your lights when you walk in the door. Or use a thermostat that gauges the temperature in different areas of your home through wireless sensors. Many home security systems utilize wireless sensors for door and window monitoring and activate cameras upon motion detection. These are excellent examples of the Internet of Things (IoT) – an interconnected network of physical devices embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies to exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet.

IoT devices aren’t only used in the home. You’ll find them employed in healthcare systems, environmental control networks, transportation systems, artificial intelligence (AI), manufacturing, agriculture, energy infrastructure – the list goes on. IoT devices can scale to accommodate evolving business needs and are often deployed across multiple locations within a singular system. This creates a sort of ‘mesh’ network of devices that can bring convenience and automation to many tasks and services. IoT is everywhere, whether it’s manipulating the stoplights on your way home, adjusting living room mood lights, or monitoring a pacemaker.

Understanding the Risks of IoT Devices

The pervasiveness of IoT presents risks, threats, and challenges.

Data Collection

The amount of data gathered by IoT devices can be alarming, especially regarding sensitive or private information such as health and wellness, purchasing habits, or camera feeds directly into your home or business. When utilizing devices within the Internet of Things, you implicitly trust them, the app owners or service providers, with aspects of your life.

Understanding how our data is utilized becomes crucial with the increasing integration of our lives into the digital landscape. In the earlier days of the Internet, there was a popular refrain: “If you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product.” Unfortunately, companies have learned they can double-dip on subscription fees and data harvesting. Releasing your metadata might become a part of the Terms of Service (ToS), and either you can agree to the changes or be denied service entirely. Advertisers often purchase this metadata to form a more concise ‘consumer profile’ for you, making targeted advertisements more relevant to your interests and forming predictive behavioral models to anticipate how you’re likely to spend your money.

IoT Security and Increased Potential for Cyberattacks

Significantly, IoT devices can often be exposed vectors for cyberattacks. The devices often lack robust security measures, creating vulnerabilities that malicious parties can exploit. The data trove collected by IoT devices can be a target for hackers looking to steal your identity or sensitive information collected by your company. If a bad actor gets into your environmental automation or health systems, they could even pose a risk to the physical safety of people and assets.

Mitigating Vulnerabilities in IoT Systems

The Internet of Things allows for an unparalleled level of automation and convenience, but with it comes inherent risks for you and your business. So, what can you do to minimize these risks?

Know What Data Is Collected by IoT Devices

Understand how data is transferred and stored. Your data should be encrypted every step, in transit and at rest. Vendors handling your data need to be vetted for their data security and incident response approach. ToS and Service Level Agreement (SLA) contracts need to be carefully analyzed so you know exactly how a vendor plans to use your data.

Increase Security

Accounts for administration on IoT devices should be limited to necessary parties to minimize surface area for potential attack. Enforcing strong authentication methods, especially multi-factor authentication (MFA), whenever possible is always a good idea. It’s said that the human element is often the weakest link in any secure system, so ensure users are well-educated about best practices for secure configuration, usage, and maintenance of IoT devices. This includes regular updates and patch management to keep IoT devices updated with the latest firmware to address known vulnerabilities.

Implement a Separate Subnetwork

Segment your network to isolate IoT devices in their separate subnetwork. In a breach, an attacker’s mobility would be limited to that particular network segment, thus minimizing overall impact.

Network and System Monitoring

Implementing network and system monitoring can ensure prompt responses to potential cyberattacks. Routine auditing of potential vulnerabilities and penetration testing are the best things you can do to be proactive about security. From a security perspective, anticipating and mitigating an attack vector will always prove superior to a reactive approach.

Help Secure Your Data and IoT Systems with IT Acceleration

At IT Acceleration, we can help you and your business secure your IoT devices and computer systems. We offer Security Operations Center (SOC) services that can monitor your devices and network for potential breaches, patching services to keep devices secured with the latest firmware and security fixes, and Subject Matter Experts to help you identify and rectify existing system vulnerabilities.

ITA’s security team collaborates with clients to educate them and their users on the best practices for deploying and operating IoT devices within a secure framework. Our experts can help reorganize your internal network to enhance security and reliability for all connected devices. We’re experienced working within the NIST cybersecurity framework and regulated systems with strict guidelines for data handling and compliance, including HIPAA and GLP/GMP environments. With 24/7 monitoring, you can trust ITA for security that never sleeps. Contact us today to learn more and schedule a free security assessment.

Share This