5 Critical Steps for Effective IoT Security
IoT technology is transforming businesses and life as we know it, with global IoT revenue projected to be $1.6 trillion by 2025. Connected devices make life convenient in many ways, including industrial control systems, entertainment, medical devices, and much more. This explosive growth provides a powerful motive for criminals to target smart devices, homes and businesses alike, making effective IoT security essential. Keep reading to learn five steps you can take to stay secure in an evolving threat landscape.
Effective IoT Security Tips
1. Know What’s Connected with Complete Asset Inventory
It’s not easy to keep track of all your connected devices and systems. This is especially true for businesses, hospitals, and organizations with multiple departments and locations. You can’t secure what you don’t know. In fact, adequate medical device security depends on knowing what’s connected at all times. The first step is taking inventory of all connected devices. Asset inventory can be challenging, but according to the OWASP top 10 controls for IoT, assets are a major component of IoT security. Once you compile a comprehensive list, you can take steps to keep everything secure.
2. Use Strong Encryption
Make sure your Wi-Fi network is protected by strong and up-to-date encryption.
There are several types of security protocols . Don’t use WEP or WPA encryption, as these protocols are easy to break. WPA2 and WPA3 are the recommended protocols, but even these are not perfect and have certain vulnerabilities. They will, however, reduce your risk from many common security threats.
When a device connects via the wired network, or even if it is on a secure Wi-Fi network, there are still encryption-based issues with the vast majority of IoT devices. Many devices have administrative portals accessible through a web browser. Many use no encryption (HTTP) by default, and those that do use SSL/TLS frequently use known flawed algorithms. Because of this, for effective IoT security, it is important to ensure any web-server hosted on the devices is secure or disabled.
3. Secure Your Phones, Tablets, and Computers
We all can agree that phones, tablets, and laptop computers offer unmatched convenience. You can have anytime, anywhere access to just about anything from across the web. Need to check corporate email? Check. Want to see how things are looking across your network? There’s an app for that! These portable devices are a lifeline, making effective IoT security absolutely critical.
Some (somewhat obvious) tips to protect your portable device:
- Never leave devices unattended.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi – especially when logging into sensitive accounts like banking sites or corporate networks. Newer Android and Apple devices have the ability to “secure” insecure Wi-Fi, but the features must be enabled and configured. Alternatively, using a VPN makes public Wi-Fi safer.
- Be careful about what you click or download – including files, links and apps.
- Keep your operating system and virus protection software updated.
- Use tracking tools like Find My Phone (for iPhone) or Find My Device (for Android) to make your phone easy to track if it gets lost or stolen.
4. Use Secure Passwords
Strong and random passwords are one of your first lines of defense for effective IoT security. Some best practices include:
- Change default passwords immediately as most devices come with a known default password that does not prompt for a change.
- Use a mix of upper and lower-case letters, numbers and characters.
- Never use words or numbers associated with your name, birthdate, family, etc.
- Make each password unique: do not reuse passwords for multiple sites or devices. Even if there are a hundred identical devices, they need unique passwords.
- Educate employees on password security and tell them to change passwords regularly and never share them.
- Always change passwords when employees leave or someone (e.g., a consultant) has temporary access to your account.
5. Use Multifactor Authentication
Two-factor or Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a great layer to add for effective IoT security. Most sites and applications provide this option, typically via phone, SMS or a separate app. If using the SMS option, the site will send you a text code to enter before allowing you to access the device. In addition to setting up MFA by phone or text, you can use an MFA app such as Authy or Google Authenticator for consumer apps, and most large companies will have a corporate MFA program.
Use Effective IoT Security to Protect Your Devices
IoT is part of a major shift in how we use technology, and it’s just the beginning. By taking inventory of all your devices and taking sensible precautions, you can minimize the risks while enjoying the rewards.
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