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5 Best Practices for IoT Security

The internet of things (IoT) has become integral to modern business operations. Predictions show that by 2025, more than 55.7 billion connected IoT devices will join the marketplace,1 so it’s likely that smart devices are already playing a key role in the success of your organization.

In general terms, IoT refers to the many devices connected to the internet. Enterprises use IoT network devices to maximize business potential, optimizing processes, customer service, and more by leveraging cloud and automation capabilities. However, as this network grows, it’s become increasingly clear that the security risks IoT devices expose businesses and customers to can no longer be ignored.

Why Is IoT Security Important?

IoT affects businesses in every way, from improving customer accessibility to supporting remote work environments and more. But with so much sensitive data in circulation, IoT-sourced cyber attacks have risen worldwide2 and are expected to keep growing as IoT use increases.

Cyber criminals gain access to corporate networks through improperly secured IoT devices, with the most common attack vectors being:

  • A lack of physical boundaries. IoT devices don’t exist within traditional network perimeters because they connect via the cloud, rendering traditional cyber security solutions ineffective.
  • WiFi and bluetooth configuration. WiFi and bluetooth configurations in IoT devices are a significant threat for data breaches because a lack of transport encryption exposes network data in transit to hacking by parties who execute man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks.
  • Outdated firmware. New device vulnerabilities are exposed daily, with manufacturers rushing to release patches to fill security gaps. Running outdated firmware on your devices puts your network at greater risk of attack.
  • Back-end interfaces. Attackers use the same techniques to attack back-end interfaces on IoT devices as they’ve used on other web applications for decades. Security threats like weak local encryption or a lack of secure password policy allow hackers to steal data during transmission or gain unauthorized access to your entire network.
  • Physical device access. If an attacker gains physical access to an IoT device connected to your network, they can easily read and extract data or modify its programming to allow for further infiltration.

Once a hacker gains control of a single connected device, they can access all data within your network and expose your business to damaging malware. For IoT networks to work both effectively and securely, safeguarding all hardware, software, and connectivity within your corporate network is essential.

Best Practices to Protect Your IoT Network

IoT network security vulnerabilities are essentially a welcome sign to hackers, but there are several measures you can take to close security gaps and prevent breaches at the device level. Here are a few security best practices you can adopt to protect the IoT devices connected to your network:

#1 - Separate Your Network

The simplest way to protect your network against IoT threats is to connect your devices to a separate network. This way, your devices can connect to the internet but can’t access critical business data and applications. If one of your devices is attacked, your mission-critical resources remain intact.

#2 - Keep Firmware Up-to-Date

Cyber security threats are constantly evolving to find new vulnerabilities to exploit, so keeping your software up to date is critical. IoT device manufacturers release patches to close known security gaps, so you should regularly check and update firmware on these devices. Security as a service solutions take the burden of staying on top of updates for multiple devices off your shoulders. Download our free ebook to learn more about security as a service.

#3 - Disable Universal Plug and Play

Universal plug and play (UPnP) helps IoT devices find and connect with other devices on your network, but hackers can exploit this feature as a gateway to infiltrate your network. Researchers have found that 277,000 of the 3,500,000 routers using UPnP are susceptible to cyber attacks, with 45,113 already infiltrated by malicious parties.3 You can easily prevent exploitation by disabling UPnP. 

#4 - Set Strong Passwords

Failing to set passwords for IoT network devices is a mistake many businesses make. Create a strong, unique password for each connected device and put a proactive password policy in place, changing your passwords regularly and enabling security features like two-factor authentication. 

#5 - Unplug Devices

Simply unplugging or turning your devices off when not in use significantly reduces your IoT network’s exposure to cyber attacks by removing potential network entry points and minimizing the chances of unauthorized access.

Xceptional: Your IoT Security Experts

The benefits of IoT are undeniable, but enterprises must take IoT security seriously to prevent cyber attacks affecting your network and – more importantly – gaining access to your customers’ sensitive information. Following these best practices is a smart first step toward securing your IoT network devices.

If you want to ensure your IoT security is as thorough as possible, Xceptional is here to help. Our Network Security services deliver automatic patching, regular updates, and 24/7 managerial support to keep your network and IoT devices secured at all times. Contact us today to learn more about what Xceptional security can do for your business and experience the Xceptional difference for yourself.