What is the “Internet of Things (IoT)?”

Posted on February 23, 2018 - by Colin MacInnis - in Building Your InfoSec Program

Living in the 21st Century, we are surrounded by the “Internet of Things.” From the moment we wake up and brew a pot of coffee to when we set the alarm system before bed.

What is Internet of Things (IoT)?

IoT is a network of smart devices that are connected to the internet so they can share data to report any functionality issues that can ultimately lead to a better performance experience for the user.

Examples of IoT

Companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft are all increasing their presence in the world of IoT. The latest race amongst the big three has been to release the top-performing, and selling, home assistant technology that can, in theory, make your life easier. Common IoT technology used by the everyday consumer: smartwatches, smart appliances (refrigerators, thermostats, laundry machines) and connected cars.

Larger industries like healthcare, agriculture, and heavy equipment are all using IoT technologies that work together to bring a seamless experience for the end-user or consumer. However, IoT opens up new security vulnerabilities.

IoT and Small Business Security

The sheer volume of devices produced and connected are becoming a “Nightmare on Tech Street” for IT departments. By 2020 there will be 20.4 billion connected smart devices around the world(according to analyst firm Gartner.) Because IoT devices can run on a variety of different operating systems (as opposed to the regular four or five) it can be difficult for security teams to secure and manage the volume of additional devices.

A compromised IoT device is an opportunity for hackers to access a company’s network. Something as simple as a poorly secured smart TV or security camera can put a business at risk. The simple truth is that it can be hard to be aware of the full IoT presence in a business environment.

Everything starts with the foundation for your information security program: your security policies and procedures. Depending on your industry, you may need a policy specifically for IoT devices. (Are employees permitted to bring smart speakers into the office? Do you have critical systems that would be unusable without WiFi? Do you need a process for backups?)

Education is Key

It’s true that IoT does create a massive opportunity for entrepreneurs to create new business opportunities. It also gives existing SMEs the opportunity to learn something new. Learn the risks that come with IoT devices and teach your employees how to protect company data. That’s your best defense against any potential threat.

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About the author

Colin MacInnis is a marketing professional.