The Internet of Things (IoT) has been hailed as one of the most prominent technological advancements of the past few years. It is currently omnipresent, finding its way in every aspect of our daily lives, from our kitchens to our thermostats and even our keys. The advent of the COVID pandemic has reemphasized the role of IoT in our new normal as many pivoted towards automation and seamless connectivity, especially in sectors like health care, retail and education.
So, what exactly is the Internet of Things?The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the network of connected devices that collect and share data about the environment around them over a wireless network without human intervention. For example, we can now lock our doors, turn on lights, and water our garden all from our smart devices. Among the most used IoT products are Google’s Home, Amazon’s Alexa, and the home cleaning robot Roomba. According to AI security firm CujoAI, smartwatches are some of the fastest-growing IoT devices in North America. The number of Internet-connected devices that people have is going up. Media Post reported that “There will be four networked devices and connections per person globally by 2021, according to the latest annual visual networking index forecast by Cisco.” In North America, there will be 13 networked devices and connections per person by 2021.
The security risks of IoTWhile IoT provides convenience and access to data necessary to businesses, it’s not risk-free In a report in Bloomberg about the effect of IoT on the banking sector, Royal Bank of Canada Chief Executive Officer Dave McKay was quoted as saying that IoT “is going to explode the number of transactions, but it’s an incredibly complex world.” McKay argues that IoT will make cybersecurity more challenging by opening up many more points of vulnerability and creating a larger “perimeter” that banks will have to defend. Here are some of the risks that come with IoT:
- Lack of privacy governance.
- Device theft.
- Data breaches.
- Compliance issues.
- Lack of user knowledge.
- Lack of physical security.
- Access to sensitive data.
- Botnet attacks, like in the case of the 2016 Mirai botnet when 100,000 IoT devices were hijacked.
How to secure your business’ IoT devicesHackers can use several ways to try to compromise your IoT devices. For example, they can try to access your heating and lighting systems to find out if you are home or not, or they can try to get your bank account info through the information you gave to Amazon’s Alexa. Here are some of the steps that you can take to maser sure your IoT devices are secure:
- Change the default passwords when using new devices for the first time.
- Frequently check for firmware and system updates.
- Set up guest Wi-Fi.
- Enable encryption wherever possible.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi.
- Turn off any device functions that aren’t needed.
- Use a robust encryption method like WPA for Wi-Fi access.