How Businesses Can Promote Security In The Iot Age
There is no escaping the fact that our world is now more connected than ever before, from consumer-focused communications systems providing global communities with a reliable way to keep in touch, to commercial installations designed to support the ever-increasing numbers of hybrid and remote workers employed across most major industries, remote-access technologies are now commonplace.
For many businesses, the design and development of an effective remote-access communications and security system will be dependent on the hardware devices chosen to perform critical roles, with a wide variety of smart technologies connected via the Internet of Things typically being a desirable solution.
Whilst the use of IoT devices has allowed for more proactive, reliable, and effective ways for business leaders to improve their operations in line with digital transformation, with so many essential systems permanently connected, unprepared teams may be exposing themselves to significant cyber threats. To help leaders to minimize these risks, here’s how businesses can promote security in the IoT age.
Develop converged security teams
As with most other aspects of good business, the first step towards improving IoT security is to have considered plans in place to prevent cross-platform breaches from occurring in the first place. The traditional approach to business security has typically been to designate separate teams to oversee physical and cybersecurity systems, though in the IoT age, this is no longer an appropriate recourse.
With more physical security devices like security cameras, commercial door lock system components, and access control units now connected to cloud-based management platforms via IoT technology, the previously solid line between physical and digital security has become blurred, meaning both teams of security professionals must work together to implement protocols designed with physical and cybersecurity best practices in mind.
For example, IT staff must ensure that physical security teams understand how to update and utilize digital credentials appropriately to reduce the risk of physical hardware becoming compromised, whilst physical security staff must have some input in the digital protections used to secure physical devices to ensure that these tools are still able to function appropriately in a converged installation.
Utilize intelligent authentication
According to data published in 2022, as many as 82% of all significant cybersecurity breaches involve an element of human error, including risk factors such as the mishandling of user credentials, workers falling for social engineering attacks, and the simple misuse of business systems due to complacency. Though to provide long-term protection it remains important that businesses invest in frequent and comprehensive staff training programs to help teams better navigate evolving security threats, leaders should also look towards intelligent authentication policies designed to strengthen access security.
By ensuring that access to all installed IoT devices is secured behind some degree of multi-factor authentication, experts estimate that up to 99% of common cyber-attacks can be prevented. This can be as simple as adding an encrypted one-time-use code to the login credentials for all IoT systems or implementing biometric authentication to access sensitive data, any extra step improves IoT security.
Encrypt all communications
Data encryption shouldn’t only be utilized to secure multi-factor password information from being intercepted and understood by potential cybercriminals, in fact, it’s wise to implement security policies dictating that all internal business communications are to be encrypted to improve security postures.
By ensuring that all emails, web browser data, and files sent from installed IoT devices to connected cloud-based storage or management platforms is encrypted at source, any sensitive information like user credentials and client details will be made unreadable and rendered useless to cybercriminals.
Designing and implementing an effective encryption policy will be made much easier if a business has chosen to create a converged physical and cybersecurity team, as both departments will be well-positioned to ensure that all relevant IoT devices and communication platforms are suitably covered.
Implement role-based access models
When operating a well-connected network of IoT devices, it’s likely that both low-risk systems such as building management and HVAC devices and high-security systems like file storage and access control networks will be at least tangentially connected via a business-wide management platform.
To ensure that only trusted personnel are able to access high-risk systems, businesses must choose to operate role-based access control models capable of automatically evaluating whether presented credentials are assigned with an acceptable level of security clearance. For example, only security staff credentials can be used to view CCTV footage and only HR teams can view stored employee records.
Role-based access control models can be assigned directly to all user credentials meaning security teams will not be required to manually assess access attempts on a case-by-case basis, instead, each user’s information can be updated as and when their employment status changes to ensure that all connected IoT devices and wider control systems are automatically secured at all times.
As more businesses across most major industries continue to utilize IoT devices and cloud-based technologies to improve their operations, organizations must reassess their approach to business security. By designing bespoke policies through the formation of converged security teams, ensuring that all essential systems are protected behind multi-factor authentication, encrypting all data sent between active devices, and creating role-based access models, businesses can promote security in the IoT age.