5 IoT Device Security Tips
Blog / 5 IoT Device Security Tips
The Internet of Things (IoT) can be a blessing and a curse for businesses. The utility of small internet-connected devices can’t be ignored. IoT devices have certainly improved efficiency and made specific tasks easier to handle. Unfortunately, IoT devices are also often an easy access point allowing unwanted threat actors access to your network.
IoT devices are often the least secure devices on a business’s network. Many IoT devices lack advanced security functionality out of the box. On top of this, many IoT devices have a strict lifecycle and old models stop receiving security updates.
In the past, manufacturers have sometimes kept businesses in the dark about the lack of security features on IoT devices. New laws and best practices are looking to improve security and transparency in the IoT industry. In the meantime, the onus falls on the businesses to secure themselves against threats that use their IoT devices against them.
As IoT devices become more relied upon in the workplace, it is important to know how to stay protected. Here is a list of tips and best practices to use when dealing with IoT devices.
1. Keep Software Updated
Software updates are by far the most important factor in IoT device security. As mentioned earlier, IoT devices are generally on a strict lifecycle. During this lifecycle, vendors send out security updates to fix common security issues. If a hacker knows that your business is using out of date IoT software, they will know how to crack into the device.
Unfortunately, IoT software updates are frequently not automatic. Older or deprecated devices may require businesses to keep tabs on new updates to download them when needed. This leads me to my next tip.
2. Keep a Record of IoT Devices
Keeping some kind of record of every IoT device you use can help mitigate security issues. Having a record of IoT devices, their functions, and their current software version will allow you to prevent unnecessary cybersecurity risks.
The estimated end date of the device’s update cycle should also be included if possible. Many IoT vendors provide an estimate of the lifecycle of their devices. If possible, knowing the estimated end date for a device will help you prepare to replace redundant devices when the time comes.
3. Deactivate Unused IoT Features
Enterprise IoT devices often come with a range of functionality. As an example, take a look at a smartwatch – one example of an IoT device. It could be argued that a smartwatch’s main purpose is to tell the time. In this instance, the smartwatch may use Bluetooth, Near-Field Communication (NFC), or voice activation. If you are not using these features, they provide more ways for hackers to breach the device, with no added benefit for the user. Deactivating these features reduces the risk of cyberattacks. The same applies to other IoT devices. Only using the necessary features means fewer ways for hackers to breach these devices.
4. Revoke Third-Party Access When Necessary
IoT vendors are often allowed some form of access to your organisation’s IoT network when you use their devices. This is generally beneficial, especially for bespoke or enterprise IoT devices, as it allows the vendors to provide functionality and support.
If these vendors suffer a breach of their own, it could land you in hot water. If a vendor is breached, it may end up costing you. Because of this, it is important to manage permissions given to vendors. If permissions are not explicitly needed for the IoT to function, they should be revoked. Permissions given to unused third parties should also be removed.
5. Evaluate the Security of New IoTs
When purchasing new IoT devices, you should evaluate their security features. Most IoT vendors will provide guidance to properly secure IoT devices. If possible, ask the vendor directly if there is a security issue you are concerned about and make sure they have a solution.
Almost every IoT has a security certificate that should provide a good first insight. You should try to opt for IoTs with the best security certificates. In the case of unrated IoTs, it may be worth finding out what security features you require. Knowing what your organisation’s cybersecurity profile looks like is key when dealing with unrated IoTs.
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