Is the IoT Making Your Office Less Secure?

IoT concept showing interconnected technologies throughout an office

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to devices or things that connect to the internet or other networks.  Things can include printers, thermostats, lights, and security systems.  Each of these devices presents an entry point into a network.  If the devices are not secure, a cybercriminal can gain access to a network through the device.  If the network is not protected, it is at risk for a severe cyberattack.

As a business owner, you could choose not to be a part of the IoT, but that is impractical.  From 2014 to 2019, the number of businesses connected to the IoT has increased to 25%.  It is projected that 43 billion devices will be connected to the IoT by 2023.  It will soon be impossible to conduct business without being connected to it.  

You could choose to maintain your current level of security; however, that would be extremely risky.  You may think that your business is too small to be a target.  Unfortunately, small businesses, especially professional service providers, are targets for cyberattacks.

  • Small businesses are the target of 43% of cyber attacks.
  • Cyberattacks cost an average of $200,000.
  • More than 50% of small businesses have had a breach in the last 12 months.

If you limit protections to basic security procedures, you may be at risk to become one of the nearly 50% of businesses that suffer a cyberattack.

What is the Problem?

The IoT presents two types of security concerns.  One threat comes from the devices; the other resides on the network.  

The Things

The number of devices that can connect to the IoT increases daily.  However, each device presents a vulnerability on the network.  Since no standard exists for connecting them, some devices may have little-to-no built-in security.  Before connecting a device, invest the time to make certain that adequate security is in place to prevent a cyberattack.

The Network

Because devices use different methods to connect to a network, it makes it more challenging to manage.  Once their installed, device updates may need to be applied and tested to minimize any disruption in service and address security vulnerabilities.  As the number of devices increase, so does the time required to secure and monitor.  Before long, network management has become a fulltime job.

What is the Solution?

Until a standard for IoT devices is established, businesses must find ways to secure their networks. Companies can hire IT personnel to maintain, manage, and monitor their networks.  Or, they can look at outsourcing these needs to a managed IT service provider (MSP).

A managed IT service provider offers a range of services and these can be customized in ways that best suit individual businesses.  MSPs can help with employee training, cybersecurity, network monitoring, proactive maintenance, and much more.  They can advise on best practices for securing and limiting guest access to your network and help you make decisions about what should be on your network.  

Using an MSP may save your businesses from unexpected downtime or disruption in service.  For example, three hospitals in western Alabama were unable to admit patients when their computer systems were hit by a ransomware attack.  The hospitals waited ten days before they could access their systems after paying unknown ransom demands. 

How long could your business survive without access to your computer network?  Do you have the resources to pay a ransom demand that averages $200,000?  Would you be able to stay in business?  The old adage, an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure comes to mind. Take the time to learn the steps you should be following to protect your business from cyberattacks.

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