The IoT Is Exciting But Businesses Must Address Its Mobile Security Risks

Carl Leonard

The IoT has the potential to transform businesses operations and propel their understanding of their customers. Being able to connect all manner of devices to the Internet may enable businesses to greatly improve efficiency and effectiveness by allowing them to monitor and assess information in real-time.

However, while an ultra-connected world offers a wealth of exciting opportunities for businesses, it also raises a number of concerns around mobile security. It can be very tempting for enterprises to be swept away by the hype surrounding IoT, but businesses that are seriously considering deploying “smart” devices within their business model must carefully appraise and address the impact this will have on the security of their data and networks.

The mobile security risks of IoT

The reality of all devices within an office being constantly connected and sharing data with each other could become a security nightmare for IT departments. Business systems are already being put under considerable strain by the Bring Your Own Device trend and the IoT will expose further deficiencies, providing new opportunities for cybercriminals to gain access to corporate data.

Many IoT devices will provide threat actors, intent on causing corporate damage, with additional potential points of entry for attack. Apart from compromising the device itself, network infrastructures will need to be adapted to securely integrate these devices.

Indeed, any breach of any kind will be damaging to any enterprise, but the IoT could greatly increase the significance and scale of security breaches. Consequently, IT teams will need to monitor yet another area of vast security risks, further stretching their already limited capacity and resources.

Businesses cannot afford to underestimate the potential mobile security threats that accompany the IoT. In fact, the security threats of the IoT are so broad that they could disrupt entire business systems, possibly resulting in businesses becoming victims of industrial espionage or denial of service attacks, as well as personal information theft from a network.

The vulnerabilities and risks of connected devices

IoT devices pose such a severe risk because the vast majority of connected devices are designed for easy digital access, with security often treated as an afterthought. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that connectivity without security increases the risk of data theft.

Sensitive, corporate information can become compromised as this can be retrieved through mobile devices such as cameras and microphones – particularly those equipped with “voice activation,” which is featured in many appliances. Additionally, GPS and other auto-reporting devices can be a gateway for threat actors to obtain useful information.

The threat of the IoT to enterprises could be further compounded if all office electronics are fitted with “smart” sensors that carry data. In such a scenario, all kinds of electronics – from heating systems and air conditioning units to printers and vending machines – will pose the same mobile security bugbears as laptops and mobile phones. Imagine a scenario whereby internet-ready office machinery possesses so much computing power that cybercriminals can spread spam or malware when an unsuspecting user hits the button for their early morning coffee fix. This could have catastrophic effects on organisations, not just financially but also on the reputation of the business.

What can enterprises do to make IoT more secure?

If businesses have been slack with their mobile security in the past, they simply cannot afford to be blasé about it with the IoT. Inevitably, an ultra-connected world will generate unprecedented volumes of data that will further add to the strain on enterprises. It is therefore paramount for businesses to consider how they record, store and protect that data, and build the necessary protocols around that early in the hype cycle.

IoT security issues will arise in points of entry, data gathering, and in the manipulation of connected, mobile devices. So organisations will need to become more adept at writing code that is stable and resilient at the application level. Moreover, businesses that are considering tapping into the benefits of the IoT should implement internet-enabled mobile devices with the necessary security built-in.

There is no doubt that the IoT will drastically alter the business landscape and offer a wealth of opportunities for enterprises. However, to ensure that this trend does not become a heavy burden, they must make mobile security a priority from the get-go to help them manage future vulnerabilities and threats.