No, that’s not a typo: IoT is not the same thing as IT, but the first abbreviation is something that is linked to the second one. IoT stands for the Internet of Things, while IT is Information Technology. Most everyone is familiar with IT, but IoT is a newer term that some have not heard of (yet). What is IoT, and does it present security concerns that you should know about as well?

Understanding the Internet of Things

The term IoT is the collective network of connected devices, plus the tech that enables communications between devices and the cloud and between the actual devices. In simpler terms, there are billions of devices connected to the Internet, like computers and phones of course, but also everyday things like cars, vacuums, smart light bulbs, alarm systems, and even toothbrushes. This is all facilitated by high bandwidth telecommunications and inexpensive computer chips.

These connections are nothing new, as IT professionals have been adding processors and sensors to everyday objects for decades. As costs went down, more and more things were added. Products like Amazon’s Alexa were a big step in the evolution of IoT. Smart objects transmit data to and from the Internet, and all of this is integrated into homes, businesses, and for individuals who use these objects with little or no thought about how impressive this technology really is.

Can IoT Help My Company?

IoT can help just about any company, as long as the proper security protocols are followed. IoT tagging is one example of how the technology can work, and it is used to track company phones, laptops, and other business tools used by organizations. Smart assistants like Alexa bring voice capabilities to various business applications, enhance meeting room experiences, and help team members locate information.

Smart security devices provide flexible, customizable access and control for buildings, communal working spaces and private offices, and are key tools for protecting physical and intellectual property. Businesses also use IoT for HVAC systems and smart lighting. 

Thus, instead of having to manually increase or decrease the temperature or turn on, brighten or dim the lights, companies can manage environments from unified locations and intelligently monitor them. Not only can this save money, but it can also reduce environmental footprints. IoT is also used in manufacturing, logistics, and transportation.

IoT Security Vulnerabilities

A reliable IoT system must have 24/7 connectivity and monitoring plus the latest tech, otherwise that network infrastructure could be more exposed to shutdowns and cyberattacks. The devices and connections are vulnerable because they often don’t have the computational capability that built-in security requires. Some of the components and software might also not be tested as thoroughly as one would hope. Hackers are always looking for gaps like these. IoT devices can be infected by malware, and IoT botnet malware is a common type that could harm your network.

Infected IoT devices can also be used for hijacking DDoS (distributed-denial-of-service) attacks, which can spread from one machine to another and into company networks and smart homes. These connected devices can also fall victim to unknown exposures and information theft. Private personal and technical information can be stored and targeted without user knowledge. 

How Can I Protect My Company’s IoT?

Many companies don’t have plans for securing their IoT devices, and threats that start in those places can expand outward to your other devices, hardware, software, and network. Security oversights like device mismanagement and poor password hygiene can help cybercriminals find entry points. Companies are now designating IT employees as “administrators of things.” Another option is to hire an IT security team that is familiar with IoT security. This is a great choice if you’re not completely sure how to proceed with safeguarding your IoT or if you really don’t have time to do this security effort justice.

Some of the basic guidelines to follow for IoT security are to use strong, unique passwords for every account and to prioritize your Wi-Fi security. Frequently check for updates and patches and monitor the baseline network and device behaviors. Other security tools and solutions include securing the network and IoT-cloud convergence, network segmentation, and securing the heavy use of company GPS systems.

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The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Government are taking steps to update security frameworks and strengthen IoT standards, but for now, many companies are at serious risk for threats. There are current regulatory challenges in the mix as well, so having a robust IoT system with dependable, 24/7 connectivity can seem like an uphill battle. 

TAG Solutions can bring structure, confidence and dependability to your IoT, and our team’s skill and experience will increase your network’s reliability and free you up to pursue other responsibilities. Call us at 800-724-0023 to discover how our managed IT services can help your company thrive.