IoT has added so much convenience to my life that I don’t plan on giving it up anytime soon. Still, I can’t help but wonder whether my connected devices are properly secured, or whether I’m merely accepting them with a kind of blind trust. How can companies leverage data protection to restore confidence in IoT?

Recent news has shown that companies like Amazon give employees access to our personal information. Just this year, it was reported that Amazon hires people to listen to voice recordings captured by its smart home devices. These recordings put the elderly and marginalized individuals at additional risk.

Some employees even picked up a sexual assault — which makes me wonder what else they’ve been able to hear in our offices and homes.

The hacking of IoT devices also has dire ramifications, particularly within the workplace. IoT hacks can jeopardize a company’s intellectual property or financial information, expose the personal information of customers. The result can be severe legal consequences for companies not deemed to have secured their customer data responsibly.

IoT devices seem to be collecting more data than most of us realize — a serious company breach could leave highly personal data exposed. We’ve already seen this happen in numerous companies.

Declining Trust in IoT

Because of the increased awareness of the security risks associated with IoT, few consumers trust the Internet of Things.

According to a recent Cisco report, only 9 percent of consumers have a high level of trust in IoT devices. One of the main reasons, the study reveals, is that consumers don’t have a clear understanding of how their data is collected and used.

This isn’t just an issue for users of IoT within the home. Even more critically, this lack of trust translates to a lack of trust in business, whose integration of IoT devices leaves customer data more vulnerable.

So, how do we restore this trust?

For the time being, we can’t depend on the parent companies of IoT devices to strengthen their security. Realistically, most of us will continue to be cynical about whether companies like Amazon will actually take steps to improve data security for consumers.

Still, we shouldn’t neglect the fact that IoT has brought a great deal of efficiency and convenience to the business world. Rather than eliminate IoT devices due to cynicism and distrust, workplaces must take more thorough measures to secure IoT devices themselves.

How Companies Can Better Secure IoT Devices

For companies, a core part of strong cybersecurity involves improving data protection within the Internet of Things. Companies need to mitigate the risks associated with using IoT devices, focusing on IoT security as a core part of their overall cybersecurity strategy. To protect their data and secure IoT devices accordingly, businesses must take the following steps:

Make an inventory of IoT devices and their vulnerabilities.

Many companies install IoT devices throughout their organization without keeping track of what they do and don’t have. Not possessing an inventory of all connected devices and data is dangerous — since any unsecured devices present a vulnerability through which attackers can access company servers.

Companies should begin their IoT security strategy by creating an inventory of all the IoT devices in their organization, their network and cloud integrations, and their associated vulnerabilities.

Use a comprehensive IoT security team or platform.

With the proliferation of IoT across businesses, companies should use a cybersecurity team or platform with specific expertise in IoT device security. Security experts should know how to secure the devices themselves as well as any integrated platforms. Your security and safety personal — such as IT and other Dev should be well-versed in authentication, device hardening, and encryption.

Develop a response plan.

Once a reliable data security system is in place, companies should run exercises that simulate an attack. Security teams should run IoT-specific attack simulations to make sure they’ve minimized all vulnerabilities. Based on the simulated attack, security teams should develop a clear response plan so they can act quickly in the event of a real-life IoT breach.

Continuously monitor and scan for threats.

Threats are always evolving. Even after a strong security system is in place, IoT devices should not be deemed secure unless they are constantly monitored and assessed. Companies should make a point always to scan their networks for IoT-related breaches, as well as update their devices with the latest security measures.

Restoring Trust in IoT.

IoT devices can be a great help if managed correctly, but it can cause great harm if executed wrong. Companies can secure their data by keeping a clear record of all company IoT devices. Businesses need to have a record or all of their integrations, developing a response protocol to IoT breaches. 

All businesses should be required to continually monitor their network for IoT-related threats.

By protecting all of their data against IoT vulnerabilities, businesses will mitigate security risks while restoring trust in IoT for their consumers — and all of us.

Roberta Rottigni

Roberta Rottigni is a tech blogger. Born in Italy but adopted by Israel, she loves writing, traveling, and learning about innovative, tech-related trends. She doesn't leave the house without a good book in her bag!