Internet of Things, what used to be a vision for the future, a technology emerging from the shadows, is now mainstream. From Singapore Smart Nation to railways stations in The Netherlands, Internet of Things is shaking things upside down and forging new ways of living.

By 2021, the estimated number of connected devices hovers around 28 Billion!

[caption id="attachment_119313" align="aligncenter" width="628"]IoT Connected Devices Courtesy: Ericcsson Mobility Report, 2016[/caption]

That could almost be multiple times the world population of human beings. We can assume that each individual will own at least 5 to six connected device which will put the number of connected devices easily on the north of 28 Billion.

But, amidst all the hue and cry of connectivity, there is one question that has been nagging me (and countless other digiteratis) - How safe is IoT?

We are living in a digitally connected world where a search engine knows more about us and our behaviour than our own parents. Our Internet usage trail has bare minimum privacy. Now imagine a situation where even the (connected) devices we use will also become connected to the Internet?

It is literally like handing over the entire data of daily routine and activities to some unknown person in the Internet, worst case scenario a machine with dangerous levels of intelligence. Of course there are ways to thwart these IoT Threat Scenarios, but we are still a far way from that level of Iot maturity.

However, being agents of innovation, we cannot force ourselves to abstain from technology either. A good way out will be to strengthen our shields and secure our devices so that IoT and its countless benefits can be savored at its best.

Here are some ways everybody who is using IoT can use to secure themselves from security issues native to IoT:

Identify vulnerable devices

The biggest flaw with IoT devices is that they lack a common standard. "Manufacturers follow their own operating systems and hardware which creates inconsistency as a result of which the security features of each device also varies significantly.” says Sriram Manoharan, Founder Contus Connect.

The burden of fortifying security falls on the enterprise. From setting up encryption to using technology to prevent data from getting leaked through IoT devices, it is the organization’s responsibility to identify and safeguard vulnerable devices.

Diversify the use of IoT

IoT is awesome. There is no denying it. Connecting all devices to one another for maximum efficiency is definitely incremental to business output. However, vesting all the processes to IoT can be a recipe for disaster. In case of a downtime or security breach, the whole network can be taken down.

A sensible idea would be to diversify the use of IoT for specific purposes. Don’t make the business over-reliant on IoT connectivity. Instead use it as a catalyst for specific processes where the positive impact would be maximum.

Use multi-tier security

Encryption is the first-choice of security for IoT devices. The data that is exchanged from nodes to actuators and applications can be scrambled to prevent data loss through eavesdropping or interception. Similarly, traffic to and from devices can be routed through a Virtual private Network (VPN) for layered security.

Create End-User Security awareness

IBM’s data breach statistics, more than 43% of C-level executives find negligent insiders to be the primary threat to data. In the IoT environment too, negligent users can cause serious data losses and jeopardize organizational data & equipments.

The solution is to train and make them aware of the need for following security protocols. In organizations where BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) work philosophy is used, connected devices like smartphones, laptops, tablets, wearables, etc. must be tracked and secured physically and virtually.

Configure device default security settings

Each IoT device comes with default security settings which can be configured to achieve desired security. Unnecessary or redundant functions like voice control, temperature, motion detection, pressure, etc. can be turned on or off to keep the device and its users safe.

Moreover, these devices would be provided with periodical security patches which need to be updated to fix existing security lapses in previous versions. The security settings need to be revisited since there is a high probability the security settings change after the update.

Security in the IoT environment is an often debated topic. While the technology promises several breakthroughs across multiple industry verticals, there is also impending danger in the form of unaddressed security concerns. The above tactics help mitigate risk in the IoT environment to a certain extent.

[Top Image - Shutterstock]

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