How to Secure Smart Devices to Protect Your Small Business
You may not think about it, but smart devices are everywhere. The tablet you run your point-of-sale on. The smartphone you check your work email on. These devices are tied into the most critical elements of your business and its security. If you don’t secure smart devices, you run the risk of running into costly security issues down the line.
Why Businesses Need to Secure Smart Devices
Smart devices are access points into your business. At any given time, your company’s information could be accessed through your tablet, an employee’s phone, a point-of-sale system, or even your smart security system. If every smart device on your network isn’t properly secured, your network isn’t properly secured. Your IT infrastructure is only as secure as the weakest link.
For small businesses, it can become very difficult to manage and maintain smart devices. As the business grows larger, more smart devices are added. Smart devices need to be continuously upgraded and patched to remain secure, and proper authentication and password protocols have to be adhered to. This is a continual challenge for a small business owner.
But when devices aren’t secure, a data breach can occur. Data breaches can cost companies millions of dollars. Not only are there the direct costs of addressing the security issues, but there are also indirect costs: loss of customer faith, poor reputation, and business interruption. Companies need to protect themselves against data breaches in order to protect their bottom line.
The Marriage Between Technology and Training
There are two major issues when it comes to smart devices: technology and training. Many smart devices and IoT devices are not well-secured. The technology has to be updated and modernized to protect it. It may need to be properly configured to be secured. There are endpoint management solutions that can automatically protect your network from IoT devices, but these also need to be managed. IoT device security isn’t as simple as “set and forget,” as there are new vulnerabilities being discovered all the time.
Apart from the technology, there are also issues related to training. Employees frequently keep their devices unlocked, or share their passwords with others. Most system breaches will occur not due to technology but due to employee negligence. An employee may lose their unlocked phone and consequently expose the company’s financial information. These are things that training can help with, but ultimately, any employee can make a mistake. The right security protocols need to be in place to protect from employee mistakes, such as requiring multi-factor authentication.
The Biggest Risks to IOT Device Security
To secure smart devices, you need to understand the risks. Some of the biggest risks to IoT device security include:
- Failing to update and patch software. Vulnerabilities are discovered all the time. If they aren’t patched out, then any cybercriminal can use these vulnerabilities to gain access. A common example is security systems. A vulnerability can be found in a security camera that allows a cybercriminal to control the camera remotely. If that vulnerability isn’t patched out, the cybercriminal can manipulate the security camera at will.
- Not configuring the software upon installation. Consider system routers. By default, older routers came with the same login name and password. A cybercriminal who knew the router type and knew the name and password would easily be able to log into the router and cause havoc. IoT devices have to be properly configured when added to the network, and this requires some level of expertise.
- Employee negligence. As mentioned, employee negligence contributes to a significant number of problems. Employees could fall for a “phishing” attempt and send information directly to criminals through their own email address. Employees could log into the company’s financial accounts on their phone and then lose their phone. When employees don’t take security seriously, the business as a whole is vulnerable.
- Outdated or legacy solutions. If older systems are still logged into the network, it will reduce the security of the network as a whole. Outdated, legacy solutions are often poorly maintained. Even when vulnerabilities are discovered, they may not be patched. Companies that are still holding on to outdated operating systems, outdated servers, or outdated smartphone technology may be at risk. Often, this happens because companies are reliant upon technology that is now discontinued.
Companies can protect their smart devices from data breaches and intrusion, but in order to do so they need to create a comprehensive security plan.
Protecting Your Small Business from Smart Devices
Smart devices aren’t optional. They’re ubiquitous. Most businesses can streamline their business processes substantially through the uses of smartphones and tablets. So if they won’t go away, learning how to secure smart devices is a must.
- Properly research new IoT devices as they are added to the system. IoT devices should be installed with specialists who are knowledgeable about their configuration and who can select the best devices for the system.
- Upgrade their solutions as needed. Solutions should be upgraded and patched regularly, and when older solutions are discontinued, new solutions should be procured as soon as possible.
- Create written security processes. Written security processes ensure that employees know that they can be held accountable for their lax security, and impresses upon employees the importance of keeping their devices well-secured.
- Invest in the right security technology. Network monitoring solutions can scan the network continually for potentially malicious activity, alerting the IT department of intrusion.
- Consider mobile device management. Mobile device management suites manage IoT and smart devices, scanning them for potential threats and improving upon their internal security.
- Control and consolidate your data. Many companies are moving towards systems that are entirely cloud-based, under which all data is controlled and consolidated through an application platform. Since data isn’t held natively on end user devices, it is less vulnerable.
As you can see, securing your system takes time and work. It’s something that requires the help of a knowledgeable partner. Most SMBs don’t have the time to continuously update their solutions, monitor their systems, and explore new security platforms. A managed service provider can help.