Five practical tips to secure your IoT

Posted on 22 Sep 2017 by Jonny Williamson

The rapid evolution of IoT is exciting, but securing it has become a major challenge for organisations in every sector, a Cisco report shows.

Nearly 30% of businesses worldwide have at least limited IoT deployments, by Strategy Analytics’ count – image courtesy of Pixabay

And as connected IoT devices proliferate, the attack surface grows larger which means that organisations will need teams of professionals with the skills to safeguard and protect their IoT networks and environments.

Although IoT a rapidly expanding field and jobs are in high demand, many businesses do not know how to start.

The big bang:  Why this is happening now?

There are some five billion connected devices in the world today, according to Gartner. And 50 billion IoT endpoints are expected to populate the planet by the year 2020.

Nearly 30% of businesses worldwide have at least limited IoT deployments, by Strategy Analytics’ count. And International Data Cooperation (IDC) suggests that IoT will be a US$7tn industry by 2020.

Internet of things promises to boost corporate profits worldwide by 21% in 2022. That’s because it can help businesses lower costs by realising new efficiencies, and boost new revenues by supporting new business models.

IoT is just part of a larger trend here, and that trend is digital transformation. Communications and networking technology are helping organisations do things in entirely new ways. And that’s both a huge opportunity and a major threat for businesses.

IDC estimates the economic value of digital transformation to be $20tn, or more than 20%, of the global gross domestic product. Of the more than 1,600 companies IDC studied, the research firm said 67% are in the early stages of their transformation as “digital explorers” or “digital players,” and fewer than 5% of companies are fully transformed.

All the figures show that failures in the process of digital transformation are not an option, and implementing IoT itself has challenges. That includes figuring out how to secure connected devices and networks, and the data they handle.

Five IoT security practices: What you must do. 

  1. It’s important to select equipment and software with built-in security when feasible.
  2. Organisations should be sure to change the default usernames and passwords on their internet devices. Those that are left unchanged can be easily identified by botnets that scan for known usernames and passwords.
  3. Businesses need to update their internet of things devices with the latest operating systems and patches. That will ensure that they’re up to date with a variety of features, including the latest security ones.
  4. There’s also the issue of application and application programming interface (API) security. The best-prepared businesses will have the right processes and tools in place to monitor and secure app and API access.
  5. Securing the network, of course, is also an important part of the IoT security puzzle. Connectivity is the linchpin of internet of things services, and it’s important to protect against such attacks as man-in-the middle hacks and session hijacking, which can intercept communications between the device and the cloud application.