The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the network of interconnected devices, or ‘things’, embedded with smart technologies that allow them to collect, exchange, and transmit data over the internet. IoT devices are continuing to develop and evolve rapidly, but have already become integrated into the systems we take for granted. They may come in the form of wearable tech such as smartwatches, or household devices such as refrigerators and lights that interface with smartphones. 

In the workplace, IoT devices such as security cameras and inventory management systems are quickly becoming ubiquitous tools. But with greater connectivity comes the further risk of cybersecurity threats. The data collected by IoT devices can be incredibly valuable, and could, in the wrong hands, pose a threat to your business. 

Because of their interconnected nature, and often a lack of strong built-in security features, a major risk with IoT devices is the potential for unauthorised access. As IoT devices collect and transmit data, they become possible targets for cyberattacks. For individuals and businesses looking to make use of the myriad features IoT devices offer, employing these best practices when securing an IoT network is a vital step towards data protection. 

1. Change default credentials

When connecting new IoT devices to a network, a crucial first step is to change all the devices’ usernames and passwords. Many devices ship with default passwords which users often neglect to change. They could be factory-standard across all identical devices, or easy to guess, making them vulnerable targets for unauthorised logins. 

When changing the passwords, aim for longer and more complex passwords or phrases that mix letters, numbers and symbols. Rather than relying on simple passwords that are easy to remember, look to create unique passwords and store them securely with a password manager.

2. Keep devices regularly updated

Device security is an ongoing battle between developers and would-be hackers. For every new method of breaching a system found, there is an update made to quickly address it. For this reason, ensuring IoT devices are up to date is paramount for maintaining strong security defences. 

A device running outdated firmware can serve as an entry point for hackers into an entire network of interconnected devices, a weak link in the security chain. By keeping software and firmware up to date, users are safeguarding their network against known threats, and improving its ability to withstand emerging risks.

3. Establish multi-factor authentication

While strong passwords are an important element of cybersecurity, the ever-evolving nature of threats mean they are no longer the only necessary security measure. Given the potential for IoT devices to store sensitive information and the risk of hackers gaining access to the entire interconnected network through one weak point, employing multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a wise strategy. 

MFA adds an extra layer of defence against unauthorised logins by requiring users to provide two or more pieces of evidence to verify their identity, such as a code delivered via phone or email. Even in situations where one authentication factor has been compromised, MFA has been found to work as a robust barrier against cyber attacks by significantly reducing attackers’ ability to gain unauthorised access.

4. Maintain active control over your data

Crucial to managing digital privacy and data protection is taking an active interest in gatekeeping your data. This means paying close attention to the nature of data that is being collected by each device in your IoT network, as well as understanding how that data is being stored and for how long. 

Data protection is often put at risk by a lack of understanding of its importance. It is common to agree to a device or company’s privacy policy without understanding the risks at stake. Many devices have privacy settings that allow for greater control over what information is being collected. Take the time to read through these and consider data collection as a tradeoff. Consider how much data needs to be collected in order to allow the device to perform to the standard required for your business. 

5. Engage with secure, reliable devices

An important step in ensuring the security of your IoT network is knowing you can rely on the security capabilities of each device within it. This begins with choosing devices that communicate securely. In particular, prioritising devices that use encrypted communication protocols such as HTTPS or TLS reduce the risk of sensitive information being intercepted as it is exchanged between IoT devices and the server. 

Choosing a device with the right security capabilities from the beginning is crucial, and often there will be brands that have more of a reputation for security than others. These decisions are an important part of managing the security of a complex network, which is difficult but necessary for the safety of your business. Luckily, with personalised IT solutions managed by FTG, you can gain peace of mind knowing your business is in safe hands. 

Make use of FTG’s team of over 140 expert technicians offering flexible, customised solutions to your business’s ever-evolving needs. Booking a free consultation with an FTG account manager is an easy first step to a worry-free, secure IoT network. 

FTG offers end to end services for businesses’ cybersecurity, including assessment, consulting, and employee training. To learn more, visit our website or contact us at 131 384.

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