Operational and Data Integrity Risks of IoT for SMBs

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Operational and Data Integrity Risks of IoT for SMBs

Operational and Data risks continue to rise in the number of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices has brought about a host of security challenges for many businesses. As manufacturers compete to bring their IoT devices to market, most fail to include basic security controls. It is necessary to protect the networks these devices connect to or the data they collect or transmit. It leaves businesses of all industries extremely vulnerable to a variety of security risks and cyber threats.


Suppose your business has adopted IoT devices or has imminent plans to do so. In that case, there are five major security risks you need to consider to maintain the security of your IT operations successfully. Including the sensitive assets to those IoT devices that are connected.  

Five Major Security Risks 

  1. Inadequate Patch Management

Timely patching is crucial for all internet-connected devices. Most IoT devices available today cannot be patched with security updates. Therefore, leaving them exposed indefinitely to risks that only increase over time. Moreover, most IoT device manufacturers do not bother with modern update mechanisms. As a result, some IoT devices function on unsupported legacy operating systems, making them impossible to patch.


IoT’s pervasive utilization of rudimentary Operational Technology (OT) systems serves as an unprotected “backdoor” for hackers to infiltrate business systems and steal sensitive data or extort money. Specifically, those that lack the built-in chokepoint filters are essential to prevent or mitigate the spread of destructive malware effectively. 


  1. Lack of Proper Encryption

It is rare for IoT technology to contain even the most basic encryption systems included during manufacturing. Therefore, the lack of encryption controls leaves all data transmitted in connection with IoT devices completely unprotected. On the other hand, the various security concerns alone are significant, the failure to properly encrypt your customer or employee data and PII. These include both in transit and at rest, violates most data protection regulations worldwide. Non-compliance often results in: First,  hefty financial penalties. Second,  operational disruptions and lastly, devastating reputational damage. 


  1. Absence of Regulatory Requirements

IoT devices are purpose-built to house sensors that collect, store and share all direct and indirect communications. Same as data interconnected with the devices, you must consider the high probability that your business’s sensitive. In addition, proprietary information could be accessed or exposed without your knowledge or permission. IoT product manufacturers currently have no universal standards or global regulations regarding explicit security or data privacy controls required for production. As a result, without universal standards or accountability via enforcement, it’s easy to understand how IoT devices generate increased risks and threats to IT security, including data protection.

Imagine the terrifying possibility of how a lack of global requirements for IoT technology could ultimately be responsible for killing people. Without total control over the security of IoT devices, the devices become highly vulnerable to hacking and corruption. Moreover, It could potentially create authentic, life-threatening situations, especially if medical IoT devices. Examples are the pacemakers, blood pressure monitors, or continuous insulin regulators malfunction or fail, leading to death because of a security breach.


  1. Default Password Vulnerabilities

Many IoT devices come with weak default passwords. As a result, cybercriminals can easily crack it. While these can be changed once connected to a network, IT technicians often ignore or neglect to change passwords, leaving devices vulnerable.


  1. Inability to Detect Breaches or Predict Threats

IoT ecosystems are complex, making it highly difficult for businesses to manage IoT security with a single solution. Due to vast and diverse data types and computing powers across all IoT devices, a “one size fits all” security solution is unrealistic. Besides,  there is a general lack of understanding and awareness of IoT security risks at the end-user level. That is to say, businesses need to be aware of the different IoT security threats to implement security policies.


Primary threats that IT must address while deploying IoT devices in their networks are:


  • Denial of Service

A denial-of-service (DOS) attack is an attempt by a cybercriminal to incapacitate a network with an excessive surplus. A kind of activity that the network usually handles. Since IoT devices lack filtering chokepoints such as firewalls, malware can spread quickly, allowing hackers to gain entry into the network with one IoT device.

  • Passive Wiretapping

Passive wiretapping or eavesdropping involves the theft of information transmitted over the network by the IoT device.

  • Structured Query Language Injection

Structured query language injection (SQLi) controls a web application’s database server, allowing hackers to tap into sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and user permissions.

Hackers can then take over the entire network by tricking a web application to allow authentication without a valid password or adding and deleting users and changing their permission levels.

  • Wardriving

Wardriving involves the act of searching unsecured Wi-Fi networks by a hacker in a moving vehicle and then potentially gaining access to them. Unsecured IoT devices and default admin passwords on a network are easily discoverable for this kind of attack.

  • Zero-Day Exploits

IoT devices are honeypots for zero-day exploits. Zero-day vulnerabilities are vulnerabilities that are left unmitigated. And are exploited before the release of patches to them. With more employees working from home and using personal Wi-Fi and interconnected devices, IoT devices can be hazardous for a company’s IT environment.


How to Overcome IoT Security Challenges

Many SMBs usually struggle with budget and skill constraints to fully and consistently implement and manage IT security. Partnering with a Managed Service provider specializing in IT, network, and data security, and has experience managing effective cybersecurity strategy, can help simplify your success.


Here are a few ways MSPs help their clients enhance their IoT security posture:


  • Identifying Security Gaps in the Environment

It all starts with identifying vulnerabilities in a network by conducting risk assessments in your environment and analyzing any potential security gaps.

  • Implementing Layered Security Procedures

IT involves the deployment of advanced security tools and procedures that protect IoT devices from infiltration. These include tools that automate patch management, implement two-factor authentication, enable compliance with security policies, and monitor backups to bolster security.

  • Advanced Email Security

It entails deploying email security solutions that protect clients’ employee mailboxes, limiting the spread of ransomware. These solutions detect unsafe emails and attachments and deter phishing attempts.

  • Security Awareness Training

MSPs also provide training to their clients on how to recognize phishing emails and avoid opening emails from untrusted sources.


Contact us to learn more about how MSPs can help mitigate operational data integrity risks associated with IoT by signing up for a consultation right here.



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