Tackling Security in the Internet of Things

As smart devices become more and more commonplace in our homes, at work and integrated into the wider world around us, connectivity is increasing at a greater rate than ever before.

The very nature of the internet of things means that millions of people around the world are now interconnecting and sharing valuable data.

But, are we keeping up with the security needs of these ever-expanding networks?

Security experts have warned of the potential risk of large numbers of unsecured devices connecting to the Internet since the IoT (Internet of Things) concept was first proposed in the late 1990s.

Because the idea of networking everything from appliances, to vehicles, buildings and other objects is relatively new, security hasn’t always been considered in the product design. This means that there are already hundreds of thousands (if not, millions) of non-secure IoT devices that are being used by people around the world.

Not only that but IoT products are often being sold without patching and updating operating systems and software, meaning consumers are on the back foot even before they have started.

Passwords on many IoT devices are being left as the default by a worrying number of users, leaving them open to wide security threats.

A big problem for IoT users, particularly in the public domain, is that to secure a network of devices you need to segment them into their own private network and restrict access. This should then be monitored so as to identify any traffic that is ‘out of the ordinary’. But, understandably, many users don’t have the know-how or time to do so.

Another issue is that many people don’t realise that they need to secure their devices with passwords like the are used to doing with computers and phones. For example, you may not immediately see a TV as a computer, but with IoT tech running within its own operating system, that is exactly what it is.

How can security be improved for IoT devices?

Businesses need to employ more security specialists

Security specialist will need to work alongside product designers and managers to ensure that security is one of the prime focuses of the IoT device at inception.

Vulnerabilities can be identified throughout the production process and the necessary changes can be made before they reach consumers.

Educate consumers

No matter how sophisticated a security threat is, it is usually the user that has inadvertently ‘opened’ access, whether it be to a hacker, bot or virus.

Manufacturers, sellers and national organisations must work to educate consumers of the best practices of safe use of these devices.

This is beneficial not only to the consumer, but by providing clear information and supporting customers throughout the use of their device, companies will grow their reputations at leaders in the IoT industry.

Be transparent with data usage policies

In order to protect consumers from data breaches, business need to better develop their privacy policies and make it extremely clear, where, when, and why consumer data is being stored and used. This will allow consumers to make more informed decision about device usage.

There is no doubt that the Internet of Things and smart devices are going to be enormously beneficial for both businesses and consumers, but security must be at the forefront of every stage in the production and use process.

To instil confidence in the technology, manufacturers must ensure that they are working to tackle these issues before selling their products or the internet of things could quickly become a data security nightmare.


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