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For the amount that you hear the phrase “the Internet of Things” you’d think that it is the newest Ben and Jerry’s flavor. We hear it everywhere. On the television: “the Internet of Things”. In the stores: “the Internet of Things”. Even on the Internet there is this constant stream of consciousness that references the Internet of things. Well, today we are going to look at the Internet of Things as it is, and why you need to listen to what everyone is saying about the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things is essentially referencing all the “smart” devices being manufactured today that can be connected to the Internet. The “things” are everywhere. They include mobile devices, appliances, wearable technology, and all types of other mechanical and digital machines. There are even smart dog collars. This may seem innocuous enough, but the fact is that each “thing” is an endpoint that needs access to your network. Since your network is the lifeblood of your business, controlling endpoint access is critical to keeping it free of threats.
Now, your company may not have an office dog with a smart collar, but it likely has a working staff. That staff is bringing more “things” into your office than ever before, and if you don’t do anything about it, it could cause some serious problems for you. In fact, according to a survey from the Ponemon Institute, 20 percent of companies that had a data breach have traced that attack back to unsecured IoT devices. Fortunately, you have the resources to keep IoT devices from becoming problematic, and today you need to start taking advantage of them.
When you set out to write your business’ mobile security regulations, the things you have in mind are typically your staff’s mobile devices and any smart tools that your company already uses. The emergence of more “things” on your network changes the way it has to be managed. That’s why you should let your people know that IoT devices, while increasingly useful and secure, are an emerging problem that could be putting the company’s operations in jeopardy.
The first thing you will want to do is to enact some semblance of procedure surrounding the management of these devices. Do you want to quarantine them? You could create a guest network for these devices, but you would take on any cost of doing so. Do you want to outlaw them? You could, but that IoT fueled coffee mug your receptionist just got from her parents for her birthday would go the way of so many coffee mugs, stored in a dusty cabinet someplace.
To be effective in keeping IoT-driven problems off of your network, it's not necessary to eliminate the use of IoT devices, and it doesn’t have to cost your business more capital to build a secure network for all of the devices. All it takes is to register network-attached devices. That means all of them. Every laptop or smartphone, tablet or smartwatch needs to be registered.
To take it a step further, each device needs to have built-in security or be secured before being put on your business’ network. The IoT has a lot of devices that don’t have the necessary security, and if they are on your network, they are vulnerabilities. You need to be positive that any new device cannot hurt your business. Any IoT device you allow needs to be updated to its last firmware update and needs to be secured with proper password and two-factor authentication practices.