Cyber criminals are constantly seeking new ways to exploit sensitive business data, devices and networks. A breach could result in costly business losses, compromised records and poor customer experiences.

The challenge is that all network-connected devices could provide an entry into your company if unsecured.

As bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, wearable technology, smart security and automation systems and flexible scheduling increase in popularity, companies must, therefore, keep cyber security top of mind.

Below are three proactive ways to avoid an Internet of Things (IoT) hack.

1. Assess Cyber Security Vulnerabilities

As more IoT devices are incorporated to stay connected, enhance security, and improve flexibility and convenience, businesses must continually assess security vulnerabilities and risks. By knowing what devices are on a network, you can properly protect against cyber attacks, and preserve the integrity of information and networks.

A few common IoT threats include:

  • Enticing files or ads. Hackers may spread malware to IoT devices through code embedded in online ads or files that appear to be legitimate. Clicking on links or attachments in email is also dangerous, since hackers frequently impersonate trusted senders, such as a work associate, online store or bank.
  • Unsecured security devices. Attackers may gain access to networks through vulnerable devices, such as smart locks, lights or video surveillance cameras. The risk is even higher when these devices are connected directly to the internet, without proper firewall protection.
  • Rogue wireless access points (WAPs). Hackers may lure you to connect to free Wi-Fi networks that grant access to your passwords, network or critical data.
  • Vulnerable IoT devices. Most network-connected devices require periodic patching and upgrading to maintain security. The IoT complicates this, since many devices lack a method for automatic delivery of updates, or even a commitment from the manufacturer to make them available. Vulnerable devices may be exploited in a number of ways, potentially resulting in a breach of your privacy or network, not to mention the impact of hacking the IoT device itself.

2. Establish Strict Policies

When establishing cyber security policies and procedures, consider both mobile and in-office employees. A few best practices:

  • Continually update anti-virus and malware software on devices to patch new security vulnerabilities.
  • Disable or update pre-programmed settings, such as location sharing and default passwords.
  • Enforce policies with disciplinary action should an employee misuse a device or compromise sensitive data.
  • Implement a managed firewall as well as an intrusion detection system (IDS) to flag and address any suspicious network activity.
  • Instruct employees to use a virtual private network that encrypts data when working remotely.
  • Require password protection for all connected devices to bar unauthorized users from network access.

When in doubt, work with a trusted security provider to ensure your business is equipped with an optimal cyber security policy to reduce loss and business interruption.

3. Conduct Employee Training

Uninformed employees can put your company at greater risk of falling victim to an IoT hack. Train employees during orientation on proper BYOD and IoT device use, and remind them of policies during regular check-ins.

  • Clearly communicate guidelines to ensure employees abide by device policies.
  • Educate employees on the dangers of IoT hacks.
  • Share proper device and security equipment use best practices.