Top 5 Tips to Ensure IoT Security for Your Business

In an increasingly tech-driven world, the implementation of IoT for business is a given. According to the latest data, there are currently 17.08 billion connected IoT devices– and counting. A growing number of devices requires robust IoT security to maintain privacy, protect sensitive data and prevent unauthorised access to connected devices.

A single compromised device can be a threat to an entire network. For businesses, it can lead to major financial losses, operational disruptions and a major impact on brand reputation. We will be taking you through the five key considerations to ensure IoT for businesses including data encryption methods, password management, IoT audits, workplace education and the importance of disabling unused features.

Secure password practices

Weak passwords make IoT devices susceptible to unauthorised access, leading to data breaches, privacy violations and increased security risks. When companies install devices, without changing default passwords or by creating oversimplified ones, they create a gateway entry point for attackers. Implementing strong and unique passwords can ensure the protection of these potential threats.

Password managers

Each device in a business should have its own unique password that should change on a regular basis. According to the 2024 IT Trends Report by JumpCloud, 83% of organisations surveyed use password-based authentication for some IT resources.

Consider using a business-wide password manager to store your passwords securely and that allows you to use unique passwords across multiple accounts. 

Password managers are also incredibly important as they:

  • Help to spot fake websites, protecting you from phishing scams and attacks.
  • Allow you to synchronise passwords across multiple devices, making it easy and safe to log in wherever you are.
  • Track if you are re-using the same password across different accounts for additional security.
  • Spot any password changes that could appear to be a breach of security.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an additional layer of security. It requires additional verification beyond just a password, such as SMS codes, biometric data or other forms of app-based authentication. You’ll find that many password managers actually offer built-in MFA features for enhanced security.

Some additional security benefits include:

  • Regulatory compliance
  • Safeguarding without password fatigue
  • Easily adaptable to a changing work environment
  • An extra layer of security compared to two-factor authentication (2FA)

As soon as an IoT device becomes connected to a new network, it is strongly recommended that you reset any settings with a secure, complex password. Using password managers allows you to generate unique passwords for each device to secure your IoT endpoints optimally.

Data encryption at every stage

Why is data encryption so necessary? With the increased growth of connected devices, data protection is a growing concern. In IoT, sensitive information (personal data, financial, location etc) is vulnerable to cyber-attacks if transmitted over public networks. When done correctly, data encryption renders personal data unreadable to those who don’t have outside access. Once that data is encrypted, it becomes safeguarded, mitigating unnecessary risks. 

IoT security data encryption

Additional benefits to data encryption

How to encrypt data in IoT devices

There are a few data encryption techniques available to secure IoT devices from threats. Here are some of the most popular techniques:

Triple Data Encryption Standard (Triple DES): Uses three rounds of encryption to secure data, offering a high-level of security used for mission-critical applications.

Advanced Encryption Standard (AES): A commonly used encryption standard, known for its high security and performance. This is used by the US federal government to protect classified information.

Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA): This is based on public and private keys, used for secure data transfer and digital signatures.

Each encryption technique has its strengths, but it is crucial to choose what best suits the specific requirements of your business.

Encryption support with Erlang/Elixir

When implementing data encryption protocols for IoT security, Erlang and Elixir offer great support to ensure secure communication between IoT devices. We go into greater detail about IoT security with Erlang and Elixir in a previous article, but here is a reminder of the capabilities that make them ideal for IoT applications:

  1. Concurrent and fault-tolerant nature: Erlang and Elixir have the ability to handle multiple concurrent connections and processes at the same time. This ensures that encryption operations do not bottleneck the system, allowing businesses to maintain high-performing, reliable systems through varying workloads. 
  2. Built-in libraries: Both languages come with powerful libraries, providing effective tools for implementing encryption standards, such as AES and RSA.
  3. Scalable: Both systems are inherently scalable, allowing for secure data handling across multiple IoT devices. 
  4. Easy integration: The syntax of Elixir makes it easier to integrate encryption protocols within IoT systems. This reduces development time and increases overall efficiency for businesses.

Erlang and Elixir can be powerful tools for businesses, enhancing the security of IoT devices and delivering high-performance systems that ensure robust encryption support for peace of mind.

Regular IoT inventory audits

Performing regular security audits of your systems can be critical in protecting against vulnerabilities. Keeping up with the pace of IoT innovation often means some IoT security considerations get pushed to the side. But identifying weaknesses in existing systems allows organisations to implement much- needed strategy.

Types of IoT security testing

We’ve explained how IoT audits are key in maintaining secure systems. Now let’s take a look at some of the common types of IoT security testing options available:

IoT security testing

IoT security testing types

Firmware software analysis

Firmware analysis is a key part of IoT security testing. It explores the firmware, the core software embedded into the IoT hardware of IoT products (routers, monitors etc). Examining the firmware means security tests can identify any system vulnerabilities, that might not be initially apparent. This improves the overall security of business IoT devices.

Threat modelling

In this popular testing method, security professionals create a checklist based on potential attack methods, and then suggest ways to mitigate them. This ensures the security of systems by offering analysis of necessary security controls.

IoT penetration testing

This type of security testing finds and exploits security vulnerabilities in IoT devices. IoT penetration testing is used to check the security of real-world IoT devices, including the entire ecosystem, not just the device itself.

Incorporating these testing methods is essential to help identify and mitigate system vulnerabilities. Being proactive and addressing these potential security threats can help businesses maintain secure IoT infrastructure, enhancing operational efficiency and data protection.

Training and educating your workforce

Employees can be an entry point for network threats in the workplace. 

The time of BYOD (bring your own devices) where an employee’s work supplies would consist of their laptops, tablets and smartphones in the office to assist with their tasks, is long gone. Now, personal IoT devices are also used in the workplace. Think of your popular wearables like smartwatches, fitness trackers, e-readers and portable game consoles. Even portable appliances like smart printers and smart coffee makers are increasingly popular in office spaces.

Example of increasing IoT devices in the office. Source: House of IT

The use of various IoT devices throughout your business network is the most vulnerable target for cybercrime, using techniques such as phishing and credential hacking or malware. 

Phishing attempts are among the most common. Even the most ‘tech-savvy’ person can fall victim to them. Attackers are skilled at making phishing emails seem legitimate, forging real domains and email addresses to appear like a legitimate business. 

Malware is another popular technique concealed in email attachments, sometimes disguised as Microsoft documents, unassuming to the recipient.

Remote working and IoT business security

Threat or malicious actors are increasingly targeting remote workers. Research by Global Newswire shows that remote working increases the frequency of cyber attacks by a staggering 238%.

The nature of remote employees housing sensitive data on various IoT devices makes the need for training even more important. There is now a rise in companies moving to secure personal IoT devices that are used for home working, with the same high security as they would corporate devices.

How are they doing this? IoT management solutions. They provide visibility and control over other IoT devices. Key players across the IoT landscape are creating increasingly sophisticated IoT management solutions, helping companies administer and manage relevant updates remotely.

The use of IoT devices is inevitable if your enterprise has a remote workforce. 

Regular remote updates for IoT devices are essential to ensure the software is up-to-date and patched. But even with these precautions, you should be aware of IoT device security risks and take steps to mitigate them.

Importance of IoT training

Getting employees involved in the security process encourages awareness and vigilance for protecting sensitive network data and devices.

Comprehensive and regularly updated education and training are vital to prepare end-users for various security threats. Remember that a business network is only as secure as its least informed or untrained employee.

Here are some key points employees need to know to maintain IoT security:

  • The best practices for security hygiene (for both personal and work devices and accounts).
  •  Common and significant cybersecurity risks to your business.
  • The correct protocols to follow if they suspect they have fallen victim to an attack.
  • How to identify phishing, social engineering, domain spoofing, and other types of attacks.

Investing the time and effort to ensure your employees are well informed and prepared for potential threats can significantly enhance your business’s overall IoT security standing.

Disable unused features to ensure IoT security

Enterprise IoT devices come with a range of functionalities. Take a smartwatch, for example. Its main purpose as a watch is of course to tell the time, but it might also include Bluetooth, Near-Field Communication (NFC), and voice activation. If you aren’t using these features, then you’re opening yourself up for hackers to potentially breach your device. Deactivation of unused features reduces the risk of cyberattacks, as it limits the ways for hackers to breach these devices.

Benefits of disabling unused features

If these additional features are not being used, they can create unnecessary security vulnerabilities. Disabling unused features helps to ensure IoT security for businesses in several ways:

  1. Reduces attack surface: Unused features provide extra entry points for attackers. Disabling features limits the number of potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited, in turn reducing attacks overall.
  2. Minimises risk of exploits: Many IoT devices come with default settings that enable features which might not be necessary for business operations. Disabling these features minimises the risk of weak security.
  3. Improves performance and stability: Unused features can consume resources and affect the performance and stability of IoT devices. By disabling them, devices run more efficiently and are less likely to experience issues that could be exploited by attackers.
  4. Simplifies security management: Managing fewer active features simplifies security oversight. It becomes simpler to monitor and update any necessary features.
  5. Enhances regulatory compliance: Disabling unused features can help businesses meet regulatory requirements by ensuring that only the necessary and secure functionalities are active.

To conclude

The continued adoption of IoT is not stopping anytime soon. Neither are the possible risks. Implementing even some of the five tips we have highlighted can significantly mitigate the risks associated with the growing number of devices used for business operations.

Ultimately, investing in your business’s IoT security is all about safeguarding the entire network, maintaining the continuity of day-to-day operations and preserving the reputation of your business. You can learn more about our current IoT offering by visiting our IoT page or contacting our team directly.

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