How IoT devices have become a part of our lives
By now you’ve probably heard the phrase Internet of Things (IoT), but you might not fully understand what it means. At its core, IoT is about connecting IoT devices over the internet and allowing them to talk to us, other applications, and each other.
IoT devices include cars, small appliances, home security systems, and even heart monitors. The number of devices added to that list will continue at a shocking rate. Gartner research recently said it expects there will be 25 billion IoT devices by 2020 (that’s approximately four IoT devices for every human being on the planet).
Meanwhile, global market intelligence firm IDC anticipates that number to jump to a staggering 80 billion devices by 2025. Put another way, approximately 4,800 devices are being connected to the network right now, and in 10 years the number will balloon to 152,000 a minute.
IoT devices can be scaled up from connected appliances to include smart cities and industries. This could mean connected traffic signals or even sensors for monitoring crops.
How safe is your IoT device?
With new technology comes the concern surrounding IoT device security and privacy. IoT devices and systems will collect a lot of personal data on its users. Your security system stores data on when you’re home and not at home. The information is then shared with other devices and held in databases by the corporations that develop them. IDC believes that by 2025, the total amount of stored data will hit 180 zettabytes (or one trillion gigabytes) with security spending increasing rapidly every year.
With that much data being collected, IoT device security and privacy are chief concerns among consumers and businesses. According to the 2016 Vormetric Data Threat Report, sensitive data ranks as the top concern among enterprises. Most of those surveyed expressed overall confidence in their ability to identify sensitive data and points of vulnerability. With respect to IoT specifically, however, discovering where and how sensitive data is generated by IoT devices is a top concern for consumers and businesses alike.
Cyber attacks are also a growing threat as more connected devices become available. Hackers can infiltrate IoT-connected cars, infrastructure, and homes through smart locks and security systems. So far, we haven’t seen large-scale breaches of IoT networks, but it’s only a matter of time.
It’s likely hackers haven’t honed in on IoT because there are likely not enough connected appliances or personal devices being used in a way that could financially benefit hackers on a large scale. As soon as there is a financial benefit to hacking into smart homes, there will be a cyber-criminal not far behind.
Security for IoT devices isn’t a big problem…yet
For now, IoT is relatively safe. However, as the number of IoT devices continue to increase and the number of stored data skyrockets, you’re likely to face the possibility of loss or damage unless more security measures are taken. For the time being, users must weigh the pros and cons of the convenience of IoT devices, with the potential risks. Security at this point is in the hands of the user, and so far not enough is being done to ensure IoT isn’t the next big hacking target.
What can you do to secure your IoT devices?
1. Password strength
It seems straightforward enough, but many of us still fall into the trap of using the same password across the internet or using easy-to-guess passwords like “name123” or “password000”. You have a lot to lose if your apps, devices, or network is hacked, so here are some tips:
- Change your password on a regular basis
- Don’t use the same password for everything
- Don’t use easy-to-guess strings like your name, your year of birth, or address
- Don’t use the default password or simple pins like “1234” or “1111”
If you are not using your IoT devices, it’s best to switch them completely off or at least disconnect them from the internet. There are some excellent reasons why you should turn your hardware off now and then, but the main one is it reduces the risk of a cyber attack. Sure, this is a little annoying and difficult to remember, but hackers can’t get to something that isn’t connected.
3. Quarantine your devices
By creating a separate network specifically for your IoT devices, you will have a connection to a network but separation from sensitive data and files. You can take this one step further with device access management tools. This is a more specific breakdown of device permissions to particular data. It’s all about compartmentalizing where possible to avoid maximum damage should hacking occur.
4. Keep your firmware updated
Firmware updates should be routinely followed. The landscape is constantly changing, and hackers get trickier every day, so the security patches that combat attacks are essential. Patch management software is available to run automatic checks across all of your devices so this task can be automated.
If you’re concerned about IoT devices posing a threat to your business, we can help. We can ensure your network is secure while providing your employees and business with the convenience of everything that IoT has to offer.