There’s little doubt that technology has fundamentally altered the way businesses and consumers interact with one another, and the growing industry of Internet of Things (IoT) devices is bringing that connectivity even further into our lives.
The statistics regarding IoT adoption clearly identifies this growth – Gartner estimates that 6.4 billion unique devices are in use around the world in 2016, a 30 per cent increase on the previous year. In the next two years, those numbers are expected to almost double again, up to 11.4 billion in 2018.
That said, with this rapid adoption comes new security concerns.
Security challenges with the IoT
Alongside the emerging support for the technology, Motherboard notes that 2016 also saw one of the largest cyberattacks in history – made possible by poor security regarding IoT devices. The speed at which developers are looking to capitalise on the potential of the new platform has resulted in security holes that are being exploited faster than they can be patched.
“IoT designers have taken leave of their senses,” Steve Wilson from Constellation Research told Diginomica. “They make IoT devices with open public interfaces (APIs). We give these devices public networking standards like WiFi and Bluetooth but we’ve given them no access controls or privileges management.”
Gartner noted in September 2016 that the sheer volume of new IoT devices is the biggest challenge; with numbers expected to outweigh laptops, tablets and smartphones more than threefold by 2020, identifying everything on your network is the most pressing issue.
11.4 billion unique IoT devices are estimated to be in use globally in 2018.
“Organisations must […] start addressing the 21 billion IoT devices that we project will want access to the enterprise network,” says Tim Zimmermann, research vice president at Gartner.
“Whether a video surveillance camera for a parking lot, a motion detector in a conference room or the HVAC for the entire building, the ability to identify, secure and isolate all IoT devices – and in particular “headless” devices – is more difficult to manage and secure.”
That’s not to say that businesses should not consider investment in the IoT – if managed effectively, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Securing the IoT in 2017 and beyond
The impressive connectivity of the IoT and its implications for automated processes are compelling enough that businesses are advised to integrate the technology into their operations, and the renewed focus on securing devices will lead to lowered risk. For now, however, proceeding with caution is necessary. CIO highlights comments made in Forrester’s Predictions 2017 report on the IoT.
“The scale and scope of the IoT is much larger and radically different from what CIOs have faced before. The diversity of technology components and the challenge of orchestrating them to work together to produce the desired business outcomes requires new roles and skill sets,” the report states.
For small- to medium-sized businesses, a breach of cybersecurity can cause significant damage to revenues and reputation, but when an incident involves critical infrastructure the results can be catastrophic. Unfortunately, evidence suggests that these large organisations are the most common targets of attack, with the Australian Cyber Security Centre finding that over 50 per cent of all compromised systems were in the energy, financial services, communications and transport sectors.
Managing such a diverse and ever-changing suite of connected devices is difficult even for well-resourced businesses, and delivering an IoT project clearly needs a great deal of careful strategy and focus on security. Devising a roadmap and outlining the steps to implement it is critical, and those who are unprepared to manage every aspect on their own may be exposing their organisation to risks.
That’s where the expertise of consultants can come into the picture – guiding your business towards IT project success. Avocado Consulting’s highly skilled team have the experience necessary to help your organisation protect itself from cyberattacks and lay out a strategy for IoT adoption. Get in touch today for more information.