Don’t Let Your IoT Devices Threaten Network Security

By Roger Sands, CEO and Co-Founder of Wyebot

Internet of Things (IoT) technology is rapidly expanding. Across all industries, there are millions of smart devices connected to WiFi networks and more are coming. These devices streamline operations – changing everything from how we print to how we monitor patients, secure offices, order products, and communicate with one another. IoT is an integral part of daily life, and this makes it paramount to ensure it is a secure part of all operations.

IoT Threats

For a number of reasons, IoT devices are attractive network entry points for malicious users. These actors have a history of using IoT technology to stage denial of service attacks, steal personal and proprietary information, and otherwise cause havoc. As more and more of these devices flood the market, and as businesses become even more reliant on their WiFi networks, IoT security must be an intentional pursuit, and not a casual afterthought.

Here are steps you can take to make sure your IoT devices support productivity rather than harming your business.

Regularly Review and Implement Updates

All IoT devices should have the latest firmware. If manufacturers release any updates, whether to address a known security vulnerability or another issue, those updates should be implemented quickly. This greatly reduces the chance that someone can exploit a vulnerability and hijack the device. All businesses should have a system in place that ensures updates are regularly reviewed and applied.

Use Unique and Strong Passwords

IoT devices often arrive with weaker passwords. As soon as a device is connected to the network, its password should be changed to one as complex as possible. All devices should have unique passwords.

Use Multi-Factor or Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication and multi-factor authentication require users to verify their identity in at least two ways. If either of these authentication types is offered for an IoT device, it should be enabled. The extra layers of security make it easier to prevent unauthorized access to the device – and, through the device, to the rest of your network and all other connected devices.

Isolate Devices

Not all IoT devices need to be connected to the same SSID. Devices such as smart printers, for example, can connect to a separate network than devices used to optimize production processes. With this network segmentation, you help ensure that only devices that need secure information have access to it. This reduces the chances of a hacker gaining access to confidential information by hacking a lower-level device and SSID.

Monitor all Devices

All devices should be monitored 24/7. You should always know exactly what is connected to your network and how it is utilizing the network. Regularly review any logs for unusual activity, such as strange login attempts. You should also monitor traffic to and from IoT devices. This can help you to identify any attempts by someone to use the device for something like unauthorized network access or a DoS attack.

Bolster and Simplify Security with WiFi Automation

Keeping eyes on hundreds or thousands of IoT devices 24/7, in addition to monitoring every other element of the WiFi network ecosystem, is an incredible challenge. IT professionals can’t be everywhere at once, nor can they analyze millions of data packets a second – work that is needed to identify threats in real-time and assure network optimization. To get the support they need, the support required to protect business continuity, IT teams can use WiFi automation solutions.

Here’s how these solutions help support IoT and network security:

Constantly analyze network activity

These solutions automate the detection and notification of WiFi network issues. They analyze all network activity in real-time and will alert IT to any issues as soon as they are detected. With this support, IT can focus on other responsibilities, trusting that all devices – IoT and otherwise – are secure and performing as expected unless otherwise notified.

Identify real-time behavior and historical performance trends

By analyzing all network activity, automation solutions not only recognize real-time behavior but also identify historical performance trends. If trends are automatically saved, IT can review them at any time. This allows decision makers to know everything from if devices are delivering expected results to if they are slowly showing signs of degraded performance and need to be replaced.

Run end-user tests

Another support feature of WiFi automation solutions is their ability to connect to the network and run tests from the user perspective. This allows IT to mimic the user experience and identify any performance or security issues before users are affected.

The Importance of Proactive Measures

IoT technology can change your business operations for the better, but these devices can’t be overlooked when you make plans to protect and defend your business and its WiFi network. In an instant, a hacker can take advantage of a lone device and turn your operations upside down. Take the time to establish practices such as non-stop visibility, proactive tests, and multi-factor authentication and you can feel confident in your business running smoothly and securely.

Roger Sands is a co-founder and CEO of Wyebot, Inc. He has 17 years of experience in executive management positions at successful networking startups and Fortune 500 companies. Prior to Wyebot, Sands was the business line manager for Hewlett-Packard’s WW WLAN business, growing it from sixth to second place in market share. Sands joined HP via the acquisition of Colubris Networks, a wireless startup where he held a number of executive positions including co-CEO and was instrumental in the HP acquisition. Prior to Colubris, he was a GM at Accton Technology founding the enterprise wireless business and building it to #3 market share via six strategic partnerships. Sands also held senior management positions at 3com, USRobotics and Bytex Corporation. He holds Masters and Bachelors degrees in electrical engineering at Northeastern University.

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