Many small and medium-sized businesses eschew the deployment of sophisticated e-security measures on the wrongful assumption that their smaller size means a diminished risk of cyber threats and fraud. However, with the proliferation of connected technology and growing sophistication of Internet crime, even smaller entities are exposed to threats at numerous points. In view of this, strong IT security is critical, as each Internet-enabled device increases privacy and security concerns surrounding the Internet of Things and its impact on your business.
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things has created an exciting landscape of possibility, wherein new types of data can be used and analyzed to increase profits and efficiency. Internet connections enable remote access for workers, opportunities for collaboration, efficient supply chain management and many other money-saving or generating activities. Utility companies are able to collect data about energy usage from smart meters, which they then analyze to improve electric grid performance. In health care, monitoring devices can keep a log of wellness metrics and transmit the information to doctors located far away. The purposes to which this paradigm can be put are nearly limitless, and more are being developed every day.
Ransomeware will increase by 25% in 2017
Of course, the scale of this opportunity also presents an appealing target to hackers and other cybercriminals. In ransomware attacks, hackers gain access to critical hardware and then hold it hostage until the owner pays them off. The University of Calgary was the victim of a ransomware heist in June 2016 and had to pay about $16,000 to regain access to emails that had been encrypted by the attackers. More new types of ransomware software have emerged recently, and some of them are available to members of the public for a low cost. Trend Micro foresees ransomware incidents increasing by 25 percent in 2017.
Even if you feel that your organization doesn’t possess very much to tempt a hacker, online malfeasance could still affect your operations. If your devices are compromised, their computing power could be added to that of thousands of other units to form a botnet. Such botnets are used for Distributed Denial of Service attacks, such as the one that hit KrebsOnSecurity last year.
Change Default Usernames and Passwords!
Because many of the products now connected to the Internet are mobile platforms that use cloud-based storage, they bypass the security protocols that usually safeguard wired computers and local storage. Making things worse is the fact that many users neglect to change the default usernames and passwords that their gadgets shipped with, simplifying the job of online crackers. This is a particular concern when it comes to smart appliances, such as smart thermostats and smart cameras, which might not be watched as closely by IT professionals as they should be.
To counteract the issues posed by the popularity of Internet-enabled devices, you can limit their use within your workplace to those that are essential to your corporate functions. The fewer targets you present to the world, the more secure you’ll be. Always remember to change factory-set passwords, and update your passwords frequently. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks to connect because they tend to have holes in their security. Update the software you use whenever a patch becomes available so that you can remain guarded against new threats as they’re identified.
Setup Seperate Networks for Sensitive or Confidential Data
It might be prudent to consider setting up separate networks at your location. On one of them, you can store sensitive or confidential data that you don’t want anyone to see. Put your internet-connected hardware on another, separate network so that you can communicate with the outside world while still hiding your private files from prying eyes. On a broader scale, government agencies, like the FCC, are considering issuing guidelines for addressing the current security problems inherent in the internet of things. Such public bodies tend to lag behind the cutting edge, however, so the implementation of the appropriate remedies will likely be left in private hands. The IoT Cybersecurity Alliance, comprised of such big names as AT&T, Nokia and IBM, will research and promote ways of staying safe while accessing the internet through IoT platforms.
Now that online access is spreading to all kinds of machines, you ought to beef up your security protocols to adjust to the new environment. This holds true regardless of the size of your enterprise or the specific sector in which you operate. Preventative precautions almost always wind up being more cost-effective than dealing with the aftermath of a serious breach of security.