As we know, it’s not just our phones and laptops that are networked now – for some time, they’ve been joined by everything in our lives, from fridges to central heating, and this won’t be stopping any time soon. This new front of technology will soon be permeating the rest of the workplace with analysts predicting that by 2025 we will have 1 trillion networked devices. This is set to have a huge impact not just on your home life, but on how you operate in the workplace.
If you think about a traditional day in the office – starting with swiping in to the building, pouring yourself a coffee and talking to colleagues in the kitchen – each action establishes a pattern of activity that can be monitored and analyzed to help us better understand how we operate. If businesses choose to monitor this through a network of connected devices, the data they gather gives them the option to make the office more energy efficient by automatically turning off lights in unused rooms or by re-allocating office space that’s being poorly utilized. However, research recently done by management consultant Capegemini’s unearthed some worrying data: only 33% of businesses thought that their IOT products were ‘highly resilient’ to cyber-attacks. If more business owners knew this, the possible benefits of investing in connected devices might not seem quite so tempting.
Security surrounding these devices is set to be a growing concern in the future – IOT makes virtually every facet of security and information governance more complicated: more devices means more information which means more vulnerabilities. The internet of things may be making our lives easier, but it also provides hackers with an expanded surface area, making protecting your companies intellectual property and private data that much harder. We just have to look to our recent history to demonstrate that existing security features aren’t up to scratch. In 2013, Target had 40 million credit card numbers stolen – not through the traditional route but instead by gaining access through the internet enabled heating, ventilation and air conditioning in their offices. All it took was stealing the credentials of the companies HVAC contractor to gain access. It is incidents like this that have meant the cost of data breaches is predicted to reach $2.1 trillion by 2019.
So how can you help protect your company? Firstly, your greatest defense against a breach is education. Even if the device itself is well protected, how members of staff are using it can render those security measures redundant. Treating your air conditioner the same way you would treat a laptop or tablet initially seems strange, but simply making sure that passwords are regularly changed will prevent one of the most common causes of security breaches. Best practice also tells us that the loss of physical security is essentially a logical breach, so being mindful of the location of these devices is an important thing to consider. It’s also vital to remain in close contact with the vendor of your IOT device. They now offer more security measures for devices, from cloud storage that offers encryption for both data in transit and data at rest, as well as authentication platforms and identity networks.
It’s crucial that businesses remember security starts at home. If devices aren’t locked overnight, if bags aren’t locked when traveling between meetings and if hardware isn’t secured to desks when the office is empty, it makes it so much easier for a larger, more devastating data breach.