Here’s how to keep your IoT devices secure

Tech and Tools   |   
Published August 3, 2020   |   

IoT devices can provide some significant benefits for both companies and consumers. They can collect vast amounts of data or make life a little more convenient.

There are a few significant downsides to IoT devices, however. One of the most well-known is the serious challenge of securing them.

Whether you’re a consumer with a smart home or a business with a vast IoT fleet, you may be coordinating a significant number of devices. They may be from different manufacturers and have various security and connection protocols. Each additional, internet-connected product will also increase the attack area of your network. Even one IoT item can provide a hacker with access to confidential files and customer data if it doesn’t have the right security.

You can keep IoT devices secure, but it requires a careful approach. Below, we’ll cover both how businesses and consumers can use them safely.

Best Practices for IoT Devices

Some best security practices will work, whether you’re a consumer buying items for a smart home or a business operating a large-scale fleet.

Keeping IoT devices updated can go a long way in ensuring security. Manufacturers typically update this regularly to better defend against hackers and patch newly discovered vulnerabilities. If you have a large number of items, this may be somewhat challenging. An IoT management platform can ensure everything is running the latest security patch.

Changing default security settings, like passwords, can also help keep these devices safe.

If you’re a business owner or manage a particularly large collection of IoT devices, you should also have some kind of security solution in place that’s looking for network security events. Your IT or cybersecurity team should be regularly monitoring the networks you are connected to. They’ll be looking for access attempts, unusual activity and any other signs that a hacker may be trying to gain access.

This security solution should have full visibility of all IoT devices that are connected to your network. If you’re not accounting for everything, you could end up missing major events.

Better Knowledge Can Keep IoT Devices Secure

For businesses, a robust user onboarding process will also be necessary for security. Ultimately, some responsibility for this will fall on end-users. If you don’t provide them with some basic information on how to securely use or manage company IoT devices, you could be putting the network at risk.

Improved user experience can make IoT devices easier to use and simpler for your employees to manage security. Looking for products with good UX design can help your employees keep them secure.

If you’re a consumer, buying items that make it easy to manage security is a good idea. It should be easy for you to adjust passwords, turn off features you don’t need and update firmware. If something doesn’t give you a lot of control over security or settings, it may be worth looking for a different product.

Selecting the Right IoT Devices for Maximum Network Security

In general, it’s worth considering security before you purchase an IoT device. If you are a consumer buying something for your home, you probably won’t need to worry as much about cyberattacks. In general, the smarter your home is, however, the more vulnerable it will be to hackers. Everything you purchase will provide another opportunity for a criminal to gain access to your home network.

Before making a purchase, you should investigate any potential security risks an IoT device may pose. If you’re buying directly from a manufacturer, you can ask if they have a product security testing program in place. These programs are a good sign that a company takes security seriously. You should also try to learn how much data the device will collect. Some of them gather a lot of personal information.

If you’re the owner of a business or an office manager, keeping control over which devices connect to the network can help. Employees will sometimes bring their own smart devices to work — like smartwatches, home assistants, TVs and IP cameras. These “shadow” products will provide an extra point of entry for hackers. You’ll also have little or no control over the security settings.

How Businesses and Consumers Can Keep Their IoT Devices Secure

IoT devices are notorious for being vulnerable to hackers. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to keep them safe, however. With the right protocol and a bit of planning, you can ensure your items don’t make your network more vulnerable.

For consumers, research will be important. Not all consumer IoT devices are necessarily easy to secure. You should make sure you purchase ones that are.

Businesses will also want to pick easy-to-secure devices, but security practice will matter a lot more. Platforms that track network events, for example, will be essential to ensuring IoT products don’t provide an easy access point for hackers.