In a world where there’s a constant transfer of data from various online sources, you can be sure that there will be exposure to threats. Gartner reveals that “the scale of security risks in the IoT era is much greater than in the pre-IoT environment, and the ‘attack surface’ is much larger” because most of the data exchanged in IoT environments comes from outside companies. Hence, securing all forms of hardware, software, and connected devices is crucial for networks to run efficiently.
When we talk about IoT security, you may be tempted to assume that it only applies to enterprises because they have wider networks, many devices and more data to secure. While it’s true that larger corporations have more to lose, small to mid-sized businesses also have confidential data that can be targets for cyber-criminals too. This is why small businesses need an IoT security strategy to safeguard data and prevent data breaches.
To make things easier, below are ten IoT security tips you can implement in your small business to protect against cyber threats.
Why SMBs Need IoT Security
IoT deals with devices (or “things”) connected to the Internet. Examples include cameras, routers, phones, smartwatches, coffee makers, Digital Video Recorders and so on. Many times, these everyday devices don’t have tight security features that are strong enough to withstand hacking. And like Gartner suggests, they widen your attack surface. So, every networked or connected device is an entry point for cyber-attacks. To protect your small business from the devastating effects of data breaches, you must employ IoT security tips. IoT security is technology that employs various strategies and tools to secure connected devices and networks on the Internet of things (IoT).
IoT Security Tips
IoT security measures will offer your small business maximum protection from cyber threats. We’ve compiled some of the best tips recommended by industry experts.
Check them out below:
1) Set Up Strong Passwords and Update Regularly
One of the worst decisions to make after setting up a new device is maintaining its default password. It is best to change the initial default password, keep it safe, and update it from time to time for maximum security. This also means the password has to be solid, so using easy-to-guess words would make your system vulnerable. Also, remember to remove password reminders stuck on screens or cubicles.
2) Regular Software Updates
Ensure that the software on your IoT devices is updated to the latest version. So, your wireless routers, smartphones, laptops, servers, desktops, network switches, sensors, cameras and so on, need the latest security patches and updates from providers.
3) Employ Wireless Security Measures
Wireless devices use different security measures based on how they are manufactured. Some are easier to hack than others, so it is advisable to disable Wi-Fi Protected Setup or WPS and only make use of Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2).
4) Teach Employees Best Home Security Practices
Encourage team members working remotely to adopt safe online practices because cybercriminals target home computers that connect to business networks. They can easily steal passwords, secretly gain access to business data, and wreak havoc.
5) Invest in a Backup Data Strategy
Have a solid backup data strategy in case a data breach occurs. Also, ensure that you learn how to use the backup plan to restore stolen data when a computer or server critical to your company’s survival is lost. In that case, proper backup and restoration procedures will help curtail the adverse effects of what would have been a disaster.
6) Get IT Professional Help
Hackers can attempt to hack a business’s server when they know there’s no IT professional on the ground. That’s why you need an IT professional available and hold them responsible for safeguarding company data. Also, if the in-house IT personnel is not an expert, outsource to network security consulting firms until they gain experience.
7) Use Credible Internet Hosting Companies
These days, one of the most valuable assets of a business is the website. Therefore, it is important to invest in securing additional protection against a Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS). Like the name suggests, a DDoS is a type of cyber-attack where cyber-criminals thwart access to your website or network making it impossible to render service to your customers. To do this effectively, cyber-attackers can choose to target you directly or go after your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Either way, you need to secure your website. Here’s how you can prevent this: ensure that your website is hosted by credible Internet hosting companies specializing in DDoS alleviation. Investing in such companies’ services might be a little expensive. If you can’t afford that, you shouldn’t panic. Just contact your internet service provider (ISP) and find out the measures they employ to mitigate DDoS attacks. Remember to prioritize your security because in the end, your business may never fully recover from a DDoS attack.
8) Buy Quality IoT Devices
It’s possible to put all the security measures in place and still get hacked simply because you missed out on one important detail. Hackers easily infiltrate inferior IoT devices. Therefore, it is advisable to only purchase quality IoT devices from brands that can vouch for their products and provide some form of warranty or insurance.
9) Safeguard Surveillance Technology
Surveillance technology like security cameras have become incredibly affordable, and like you, many small business owners are taking advantage of this. Surprisingly, because these devices can connect to the Internet, they are classified as IoT devices and can be compromised too. So, it’s best to keep Internet-enabled surveillance devices on a network that is different from the businesses’ primary network. Networks dealing with customers’ financial transactions (like point-of-sale systems), intellectual property, or any regulated data should be kept in separate networks. Ultimately, keep all extra IoT devices in a separate network apart from the primary business network.
10) Educate Employees
Human error accounts for the majority of data breaches. Therefore, you need to share essential security measures with team members and enforce it. Get IoT security experts or sign them up on websites where they can learn the different hacking and ransomware trade tricks. Test them from time to time to ensure that they’re taking these measures seriously. One test to try out is to send out email links to your team members and observe how they respond to it. Then, you’ll educate them afterwards.
IoT security hacks can happen to small businesses too, so regardless of your business size, you need to put security measures in place. Note that you don’t have to try everything if you’re on a budget. Simply run a thorough diagnosis or vulnerability scan and then select the best IoT security methods based on your business needs.