The Internet of Things (IoT) is here and infiltrating every aspect of our daily lives — sometimes improving processes and sometimes complicating things. As more and more businesses adopt IoT into their day-to-day operations, they must also face the security threats that come with more widespread access, both from internal systems and from employee devices.
As with most things, there are pros and cons associated with embracing IoT in your business operations. Smart devices speed up processes, connect everyone and solve problems for people and businesses. By the year 2025, experts predict the deployment of around 1,000,000,000 networked devices in total. Now is the time to think through the potential downsides for businesses and come up with protections for the problematic aspects of IoT.
The sheer saturation of devices means your business faces the inherent problems associated with broader usage. There are some ways to act and ensure you secure your business, and the personal information of your employees and customers, from those with harmful intentions. Here are seven steps to take, today, so you’re ready for the next technology revolution.
1. Fear the Rise of the Robots
Robots taking things over and misbehaving sounds like something out of a science fiction novel. However, consider a situation where connected devices run a manufacturing plant. If someone hacks into the system or the software has a glitch, the machines could malfunction and possibly create bodily harm.
While robots aren’t likely to rise and take over the world on their own, hackers and misfires are a real concern and could create serious issues. Because of this, choose any devices you intend to add to your business very carefully. Educate yourself and your employees on any potential problems. Have an emergency plan in place in case every device in your system suddenly goes down. How will you get up and operating again quickly — and how can you continue serving customers during a computer system meltdown?
2. Close Security Loopholes
With the addition of so many devices, there are more opportunities than ever for hackers to gain access to your network. No longer do you only have to protect your business devices. Now, every employee who signs in via a smartphone or any other device is a possible target.
Intensive training is key. You should regularly train your employees on cybersecurity and how to keep their devices from getting hacked. Offer in-house training sessions at least once each year to keep employees informed about the latest threats. Hire IoT technology experts rather than trying to do everything in-house. Your regular IT department may not fully understand the ins and outs of securing every device and finding backdoors that need to be closed and locked.
3. Update Your Infrastructure
As IoT grows, expect changes in your infrastructure to become a necessity rather than an option. Even if your business doesn’t embrace the trend, your employees will — and the strain on your network will reflect this.
If you do begin embracing more smart technology in your place of business, understand that IoT works differently in that data needs to be accessible around the clock. Is your cybersecurity department ready to monitor your data centers 24/7?
4. Embrace Natural Language Processing (NLP)
When humans speak — including engaging in online searches — there is a natural rhythm to our language. NLP trains machines to recognize natural speech patterns and flag language that seems unnatural as a potential security risk.
NLP brings the ability for organizations to see security risks in real-time and act immediately to neutralize any attack. The devices search through text at lightning speed and find anything that looks suspicious.
5. Prepare for Slower Speeds
One drawback to IoT devices is that most connect through Wi-Fi. Since Wi-Fi works via radio signals, the more devices on a broadcast frequency, the slower everyone’s devices connect and run. As your employees and business add more and more devices, think about ways your company can overcome the slower speeds and still productively conduct business.
For example, you could invest in signal boosters and faster internet connectivity for the office. Be selective about which devices you add. Does the device add value or bring money to the business in some way? If not, it may not be worth the drain on bandwidth.
6. Calculate the Cost of Devices
Some IoT devices are pretty costly but don’t add any real value to the company. Consider each employee who will use the device and talk to department heads for input on whether the device truly brings value to the brand. While value doesn’t always equal direct profits, the device should pay for itself in time saved, additional productivity or direct revenue.
7. Protect Personal Data
IoT opens up everyone to a higher risk of cyber attacks. Hackers have more ways than ever to get into our systems, which means the personal data of your customers and employees may be at great risk.
It seems as though not a month goes by where you don’t hear about some big corporation announcing their data was compromised and notifying their customers to watch their credit reports. As a business, you’re responsible for protecting that data. You must do everything in your power to secure your systems, so they aren’t vulnerable to attack.
If the worst happens and a hacker gains access to private data, notify your customers immediately and figure out how to close the loopholes that allowed them into the system in the first place.
Progress Isn’t Free
Progress is a fantastic gift to most businesses, driving operations forward and bringing new and better ways of doing the same old things. However, there is a price for progress, including the need to upgrade equipment and systems as well as the omnipresent risk of cyber threats.
Don’t worry, though — with a little planning and input from security experts, your business will remain safe and thriving even from the savviest of hackers. Take the time now and prepare for the growth of IoT in the next few years and you’ll be a few steps ahead of the competition.