Protecting your connected devices

What you need to know about IoT and cyber security

Roman Patel
© Shutterstock / Team Oktopus

What would happen if someone hacks your alarm clock? As the Internet of Things grows, security concerns grow with it. How can you keep all of your internet connected devices safe and secure? Roman Patel shares some safety concerns about the growing infrastructure in our tech-oriented lives.

As we continue to become a more connected society, the Internet of Things (IoT) often goes overlooked. Everything from your refrigerator to your alarm clock is connected to the Internet. And it’s made our lives easier in many ways. But few people stop to consider how IoT connectedness makes us vulnerable to cyber threats. Here’s what you need to know about IoT and cyber security.

External threats

An external threat is colloquially known as hacking. Because everyday items are now connected to the Internet, they can be hacked just like a computer. This might not seem like a major concern at first. After all, there’s not much data a hacker could get from your microwave, right? But the concern deepens when you consider how IoT items that contain cameras or microphones may be compromised. Another thing to consider is how an external threat can have an impact on a mass scale. What would happen to society if everyone had their alarm clocks hacked and shut off? We didn’t need to worry about these types of invisible robberies during the analog age, but we do need to consider these potential problems now. There is good news: you can take measures to protect your IoT devices. Things like a web application firewall, adjusting your settings, and knowing when to take a device offline can make a big difference in your cyber security. You’ll want to avoid getting malware on your IoT devices at all costs.

Internal threats

If your IoT devices are in the workplace, you can have issues that are different than external hackers. You may have people internally who want to rig the system. Say there’s a room with private information that’s locked and has restricted access. If your employees are using key card access to get into that room, a savvy and witting employee can manipulate the ID process. But there are also internal threats that are not malicious. Employees with access may unwittingly give information to those who don’t have privileges by making a simple technology error. It’s important that everyone in your office who is interacting with IoT devices is properly trained and understands the impact of their actions. Things like downloading dangerous files can be easily avoided with the proper education.

SEE ALSO: How to keep the Internet of Things under control

Disgruntled employees

An employee who is no longer enhanced by the workplace can cause serious damage. While you want to know how to best manage your IoT from a technology standpoint, you also need to be in tune with your people managers and human data. Employees who want to do the company harm may need counseling or another form of intervention. If a disgruntled employee is a flight risk or if you plan to terminate the employee soon, you need a way to manage their permissions and access quickly. But you can also use IoT to alert you to a disgruntled employee sooner than a real-life manager may notice. Using analytics, you can have certain behaviors flagged. An example of malicious behavior is if an employee is downloading sensitive company data to their personal computer during non-working hours.

Securing the IoT in your home or office can seem like a daunting task. But with the right tools and plans of action, you can make your IoT devices and the data they hold safe. The first step is awareness. Know where your data is vulnerable and what you want to protect. Then you can prioritize your IoT security to protect those vulnerable points and build a better Internet fortress from there. Data is an amazing tool and IoT devices help people become more efficient and knowledgeable about their life and work. By securing how you use the IoT, you’ll be able to focus on the value of that data rather than the risk.


Roman Patel

Roman Patel is a first generational American from Indian descent. Originally from the East Coast he now lives near San Jose, California and works as a Software Engineer for Cisco Systems Inc. He married his wife Ana in 2013 and together they enjoy hiking, mountain biking reading, and going to the movies. He would like to one day become a professor to teach what he has learned in his career. Roman has started blogging to share what he has learned and help people better understand, perform, and keep up in the very competitive tech industry.

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