The Internet of Things: Three Key Security Considerations for SMEs

Here's how small and medium enterprises can safeguard their businesses and their customers in the IoT era.
By Ranjit Bhalerao
Apr 27, 2016

Hype about the Internet of Things is everywhere, with the majority of the buzz focused on consumer products. But if you dig deeper, you'll also find the IoT playing out in the business world. IoT technology can automate customer checkouts, reduce theft in retail environments, track inventory movements and automate the monitoring of corporate fleets to reduce maintenance costs and decrease vehicle downtime—not just for large corporations, but also for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The various sensing techniques that make up IoT technology—based on beacons, geofences, tags, audio signals and so on—provide SMEs with real-time data regarding customer preferences, behavior and location, thereby allowing business managers to make promotional offers at just the right moment, or to expedite services to deliver a more optimum customer experience.

The Time Is Now for IoT Security
IoT connectivity is growing, and adoption is on the rise. By 2020, approximately 25 million everyday objects will be IoT-enabled or connected to the Internet, according to research firm Gartner.

IoT represents the fusion of automated operational technology (OT) with information technology (IT), in both industrial and commercial settings. For example, industrial systems now share data with cloud-based data-analytics platforms. In commercial applications, heating or cooling systems can be controlled through smartphone-based applications.

Gartner defines OT as the systems and platforms that handle the operation of physical assets across a business, organization or home—such as electricity and energy controls, machinery and so on.

The fusion of IT and OT turns regular IT security threats into physical effects, and allows a deeper reach for an IT hacker—one that goes well beyond the previous boundaries of the IT infrastructure.

Mitigating the Challenge
How can SMEs safeguard their businesses and their customers in the IoT era? Take a look at these three key security concerns in an IoT-enabled SME environment, and the best-practice options for addressing them:

1. Distributed Denial of Service Attacks Will Rise This malicious attempt to disrupt the operations of a server or a network to make it unavailable to its intended users grew out of a Denial of Service (DoS) attack, which requires just one infected device (known as a bot) and a single Internet connection. In a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, multiple devices (together known as a botnet) and an Internet connection are used, meaning the basic technology of the IoT could be exploited to intensify DDoS attacks.

More devices in the network translate into a larger botnet for attackers, which logically increases the risks of bigger and more intense DDoS attacks. The bottom-line: SMEs need to have a DDoS mitigation solution in place that will work 24-7 to immediately detect and mitigate attacks.

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