Don’t put IoT device security on the back burner

May 24, 20184 minute read

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Projections for the Internet of Things (IoT) market may vary wildly, but everyone can agree on one thing—the future of IoT is huge. From IHS Markit’s estimate of 125 billion connected devices by 2030 to Intel’s forecast of 200 billion by 2020, there’s no doubt businesses across industries are undergoing a transformation.

IoT will help businesses become more data-driven, agile, productive, and efficient—as long as IoT device security and endpoint security, in general, remain top priorities. After all, it’s no secret IoT devices can prove vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks. The more connected devices on your network, the more entry points for hackers, creating an “exponential increase in new security threats.” And endpoints are big targets for someone trying to find their way into a network without getting noticed.

In other words, you can only realize the full benefits of IoT technology if your network isn’t a cyber attack free-for-all. If your business is in the manufacturing, transportation, or medical industry, IoT device security is of particular importance and needs to be top of mind—here’s why and what you can do about it.

Watch out for manufacturing gaps

The manufacturing industry leads the world in IoT, as all types of manufacturers—from automotive to electronics—invest heavily in these technologies. IoT is ushering in the era of Industry 4.0: Thanks to IoT devices, manufacturers can improve the efficiency and productivity of their operations through the use of sensors on equipment. Along with big data analytics and machine learning, these sensors can identify choke points and find ways to speed up and streamline parts of the manufacturing process. IoT can also predict equipment failure, which boosts reliability and reduces maintenance costs. All in all, manufacturing companies are seeing promising increases in revenue due to the proliferation of IoT.

Keep up with the latest in transportation

In the transportation industry, IoT is all about optimizing infrastructure and logistics and improving safety. Connected cars have generated buzz for years, but buses, trucks, trains, and planes—used for individual, commercial, and municipal purposes—will benefit from the so-called, “Internet of Transportation.”

For example, London is testing out a smart parking project that allows drivers to locate parking spots, which could reduce urban traffic and congestion. Copenhagen aims to improve the city’s bike routes by using sensors to monitor bike traffic in real-time, too. Looking to the sky, airline carriers are using sensors to help maintenance workers secure aircraft and maintain FAA compliance. And even on the ground, trucking companies rely on IoT to improve their logistics—making the era of self-driving trucks closer than it appears.

Stay on the pulse of healthcare security

IoT is bringing healthcare to a new level by enabling more consistent monitoring, and thus, more comprehensive, accurate data that can automate processes and improve decision-making around treatment. By 2019, IDC predicts that hospitals will increase their use of robots by 50 percent; clinicians will have 30 percent more time, thanks to healthcare apps that collect clinical IoT data; and 40 percent of healthcare organizations will use IoT-enabled biosensors to check vital signs. In the coming years, the healthcare sector will be able to deliver better, more personalized care to patients.

Tighten your IoT device security now

In a Forbes Insights survey of 500 executives, 70 percent said they were “confident in their ability to maintain the security of IoT,” but 39 percent said “IoT programs at their companies have been delayed due to security concerns.” Unlocking IoT devices’ many benefits—and getting buy-in from higher-ups—must go hand in hand with a thoughtful and vigilant approach to IoT device security and endpoint security.

What should an IoT device security strategy entail? To start, the same security measures you apply to other IT systems, such as antivirus software, malware protection, firewalls, and intrusion prevention. Another key pillar is authentication: IoT devices generate value by communicating with other devices, but it can get noisy and confusing when multiple types of devices are “talking” to each other at the same time. Authentication measures, such as digital certificates, two-factor authentication, and biometrics, ensure only legitimate connected devices have access to a company’s network. And, of course, encryption is needed to protect data, whether it’s in transit or at rest.

Effective endpoint security is all about being as comprehensive as possible. Every single device, app, and API needs to be secure. One oversight is all a hacker needs to worm their way into your network. Printer security, for example, tends to be overlooked as a potential vulnerability. That’s why devices that come equipped with built-in security features are essential, like printers that provide continuous monitoring and run-time intrusion detection to stop attacks the moment they start. Proactive security features are critical to staying protected in today’s fast-moving cybersecurity landscape.

Beyond technological security measures, people and processes are also important to maintaining endpoint security. Even the most robust security features aren’t effective in the face of human error, so make sure all employees are educated and trained on security best practices. It may be a little extra work, but prioritizing IoT device security is an investment that will pay off.

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