The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to any device that is connected to the internet and can be used to collect data on a person or on an organisation. Think of the amount of information someone would have access to if they were able to connect your phone to your Fitbit and your home security system, for example.
We live in a world where anything can be connected and communicated in a “smart mode” by combining simple data to produce usable intelligence. With IoT, the physical world is becoming one big information system with the ultimate goal of enhancing peoples quality of life and empowering businesses.
Whilst there is positive intent, from a cyber-security perspective, anything that is connected can be seen as a target and, as we become more digitally connected, we are becoming more vulnerable.
To ensure we stay safe, it is important to reduce these risks by being aware of new threats and by improving our security as technology evolves.
Modern Hacking Methods
With the increasing number of smart devices in households, more personal information and business data will circulate in the cloud without proper security measures put in place. One weak link in the security chain could provide hackers with near limitless doorways that could potentially be unlocked.
IoT risks can stem from within a company’s infrastructure as well as from any outsourced third-party smart device providers. Hackers can now not only gather information from public networks, but also from private sources such as cars, smartphones, smart CCTVs, movement sensors and even air conditioners and refrigerators!
Our MSc Cyber Security Programme Leader Professor Hamid Jahankhani discusses the evolving cyber-crime environment and how law enforcement can rise to the challenge of increasingly sophisticated attacks here.
How to Manage Cyber Security Risks
The good news is, many of the best security practices can be easily implemented. This includes: hardening the systems, using secure protocols for communication and installing the latest updates. Here are a few steps you can take to prepare for an increase in IoT-based systems and to ensure the security risks do not outweigh the benefits.
1. Encrypt data
All digitally transmitted data should be encrypted which means that if someone manages to access sensitive data, they won’t be able to read it. Organisations should consider encrypting data using firewalls to protect IoT web applications, wireless protocols with built-in encryption and the secure sockets layer networking protocol (SSL) for online tools.
Check out Boxcryptor – a useful tool that adds a layer of encryption to protect your files.
2. Improve data authentication
One of the biggest issues with IoT security is passwords and authentication methods that employees use to access their accounts. Most people use the same password for all their devices whereas two-factor authentication (2FA) should be used to add an extra layer of defence using a fingerprint scan or a face ID.
A great way to do this is through Safewhere which is a multi-factor authentication tool to support security.
3. Invest in mobile monitoring
One of the most effective IoT security services that any business can invest in, is mobile device monitoring. Knowing the current status of all your IoT devices in real-time is crucial.
4. Manage hardware and software
Security for IoT needs to be implemented on multiple levels. From a hardware perspective, it is important to store devices securely by keeping them locked away and limiting the number of employees that can access them. From a software perspective, organisations need to stay on top of updates and upgrades over time.
A great tool for this is Avira Software Updater which helps scan and spot the latest updates.
5. Invest in Security Training for Employees
It’s highly recommended that employees of an organisation attend and complete security training initiatives. Continuous employee education has the greatest impact in protecting data and securing information systems. This training should include the latest security trends such as ransomware, phishing, spyware, rootkits, denial of service attacks and viruses. Training involves significant investment in time and money but the benefits it provides in the level of security are priceless.
Cybersecurity is a huge necessity in today’s world and is something nobody can afford to ignore. If you’re interested and want to learn more about this topic, you may consider taking an MSc in Cyber Security. You can learn more about the course here or discuss your options by booking a free consultation with one of our team here.