One of the world’s top cybersecurity firms conducted a study about IoT security and found out that almost a third of companies that use IoT systems faced attacks specifically targeting internet-connected devices in the year 2019. The study also found that the use of IoT devices is poised for massive growth over the next couple of years.

It is clear that there is a lot of potential for use of IoT systems in an organization. But they must also be vigilant when it comes to their cybersecurity objectives. An attack on the system through these devices could mean the risk of an outage of services, data loss as well as reputational and direct financial loss.

What is IoT and IoT Security?

The internet of things or IoT as it is more commonly known, consists of implementing internet connectivity to a system of interconnected computing devices, digital and mechanical machines or objects. Each device or ‘thing’ has a unique identifier and possesses the ability to automatically link to and transfer data over a network. This allows devices to connect to the internet and thus leaves them vulnerable to a number of serious risks if they are not properly monitored and protected.

IoT security meanwhile, is the technological field that deals with safeguarding connected devices and networks in the IoT from misuse and cyber attacks.

Seven ways to ensure your IoT networks are safe and secure

IoT security has come under a lot of scrutiny in recent times after a number of high-profile incidents in which a common IoT device was used to illegally access, infiltrate and attack a large network. As a result, more and more companies are implementing security measures that are critical to maintaining the safety of networks which have IoT devices connected to them.

Some of the easiest and proven tips on maintaining the security of IoT devices are listed below:

1: Assess an IoT device’s security before implementation

Most IoT devices have security certificates that state their level of security and outline the best ways to keep them protected. IoT devices that do not bear these certificates are generally unrated and vulnerable to security risks.

Another way of assessing IoT devices’ security is by simply searching for it online. There are many websites that have created a framework for determining the security level of IoT devices through a series of tests. This is essential for non-certified IoT devices and to gauge their level of security.

2: Conduct regular security audits and risk assessments

Conducting consistent reporting on the state of the overall IT network security is a must, but it is equally important to make sure that IoT networks are a part of those assessments and audits. Also do not include them as a part of general IT assessment either. It is important to treat IoT security assessments as a separate process with separate considerations.

IT decision-makers should always be kept up-to-date on the latest reports and threat intelligence pertaining to IoT networks.

3: Keep third-party access lists up to date

Regardless of how good your security system is, if any vendors that have authorized access have a breach, their mistakes can result in breaches of security in your organization as well.

To mitigate that risk, always be sure to keep a list of all third-party vendor’s access updated, delete any old vendors and revoke any permissions for a third party vendor that they have not explicitly asked for and/or backed up with a justification.

Instill strict compliance standards for vendors to follow as well, and check to make sure they’re adhering to those requirements. Take appropriate action on those that are not up to standard.

4: Keep software up to date

IoT devices that are tough to update should be replaced with hardware that makes that process smooth, never let a critical update languish, and don’t put off patches until a more convenient date.

It is estimated that around 86% of organizations have some form of obsolete or vulnerable software. One of the most common causes of incidents related to breach of security is outdated software. That holds true for IoT as well.

5: Establish a procedure for keeping up on vulnerability news

Whenever a new threat is detected by the security system, it is vital to act upon it immediately as the security of IoT devices and as a result, your entire system could be at stake.

This should be one of the key criteria when choosing an IoT vendor as well. You should prioritize those vendors which allow you to continually update the software and are ready to tackle security threats the moment they occur.

6: Analyze network traffic

Thorough research in the field of cybersecurity has found that corporate networks are used by IoT devices for communication.

If your network is facilitating both user traffic and IoT devices, you should focus your cybersecurity solutions on analyzing network traffic and the detection and prevention of network attacks from IoT devices and the integration of the analysis into the organization’s network security system.

7: IoT devices should always be built with security kept in mind

Place emphasis on monitoring IoT gateways as they are designed to secure the gateway itself and if they are breached, any IoT devices that are connected and make use of the gateway are at risk as well.

Also, be certain that the IoT gateways have the ability to protect not only the gateway but all connected IoT devices as well. For added security, make sure that all your IoT nodes, devices and sensors have onboard security.