Over 200 billion devices are estimated to be connected to the internet by 2020 worldwide. This includes an array of new devices hitting global markets in addition to the existing pool of devices. This number may seem staggering because it would mean that each human would need almost 25 devices for the math to add up. If you account for the phones, watches, computers, cars, TVs, etc. this number is relatively small and continues to increase over time. This is because almost all devices and physical products will have some sort of internet connection to perform tasks better. For example, a smart refrigerator can tell the temperature of the food in the fridge while informing about weather conditions and saving grocery lists.
Although the technological bandwidth of physical devices has grown exponentially, the cybersecurity risks associated with them has also grown. The IoT Cybersecurity Alliance, which cybersecurity leaders like AT&T, IBM & Qualcomm, estimated that over 25% of enterprise attacks in 2020 will involve IoT devices. With companies designing novel IoT devices every day, this risk will continue to increase and it’s your business’ responsibility to ensure all your devices are secured.
What can happen if an IoT device is hacked?
Hacking IoT devices can have several consequences depending on the kind of device that is hacked. For example, a Tesla car with autopilot capacities will have much worse consequences than a smart fridge being hacked. The first and most apparent outcome after an IoT device is hacked is loss of control. If a third party hacks into one of your devices, they are able to view and change any default settings on the device at any time. For example, if your smartwatch or Fitbit is hacked, the hacker can gain access to your biometric data like average heart rate, how many steps you take daily, etc. This data can be sold, manipulated or changed by the third party. From a business perspective, if a business device is hacked into, a hacker may receive company and employee data that can show information like sensitive documents, grossed revenue and more. For businesses, the IoT devices can include card scanners, cameras, locks and voice assistants.
How can your business secure your devices?
Several great cybersecurity practices can significantly reduce the chance of a device breach in the workplace. These include:
- Using strong encryption methods for wifi networks: using a strong encryption like WPA2 can ensure safe communications over your home and business networks.
- Strong and unique passwords for devices: device passwords are the first line of defense against hackers. Ensuring your password isn’t simple reduces the chances of an attack significantly.
- Change router name: the manufacturer may give you a default name that can illustrate some aspect of your location. Changing your router name to a unique name that is unassociated with your physical location can prevent geospatial attacks from hackers.
- Disable unnecessary features: looking through your device for unnecessary features like remote access can prevent third parties to access your devices from remote locations.