Article written by, Emily Marchant from Selesti, an award-winning digital agency
An estimated 25% of cybersecurity attacks will involve Internet of Things (IoT) devices by 2020. Technology breaches pose the single biggest risk to SME businesses — so what can you do to safeguard your system and prevent a future attack?
What is the Internet of Things?
The IoT links together big data, sensor data, machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and automation technologies to create smarter, more efficient ways of working.
With new technology comes new threats. Denial-of-service attacks (DDoS attacks) – flooding an organisation’s network so that it can’t cope with the demand and shuts down – have been happening for years. But, the IoT has made this worse. Hackers are now weaponizing devices to give their attacks more fire-power.
SMEs are particularly vulnerable, as they lack the infrastructure, resources and expertise to protect themselves.
Train your staff
Shockingly, 42% of confidential data is lost by staff. The majority of data breaches occur because employees unintentionally compromise their company’s security. Educating and training your staff is vital for keeping your network secure. There are lots of online courses available to help your staff spot suspicious links and communications which could lead to a breach of security.
Every employee is responsible for protecting your businesses data and intellectual property. Make this clear to your employees and ensure they practise vigilance every day. Everyone needs to be on board to protect against a breach, not just your IT department.
Keep everything up to date
Only 64% of SMEs have checked their devices from viruses over the past month. More shockingly, only 55% of large companies have done the same. Run regular checks to identify threats at the earliest opportunity.
Check that your IoT devices have the latest software updates and only activate the services you need. Worryingly, over 35% of IoT device users admit that they don’t change the default password. Update administrative passwords on a regular basis and encourage your staff to use secure passwords that are updated regularly. The more obscure the passwords the better. If you foresee issues in remembering them all, use a secure password management system to store them.
Make sure you’re protected
Protection and prevention are key. IoT device owners are neglecting their need for third-party security tools, with 54% of owners admitting they don’t currently use any. This leaves them vulnerable to attacks.
You’ll need anti-virus software and an up-to-date firewall. What you decide to use otherwise will greatly depend on the type of data stored within your organisation.
An alternative to coordinating cybersecurity in-house is to employ a Managed Service Security Provider (MSSP). SMEs can outsource network security operations to an MSSP, negating the pressure of managing the risk entirely within the organisation. They can provide a cost-effective solution and expertise that small businesses can struggle to find in-house.
The Internet of Things offers a wealth of opportunities for businesses, but there are also risks. By implementing the right security procedures, organisations can reap the benefits of new technologies.