The conveniences and increases in productivity and business intelligence promised by IoT, or the Internet of Things, means that this is an area of technology seeing rapid deployment in every kind of business one might imagine.

From Industrial IoT through to the apps, software and technological wonders making SMEs more agile and innovative, IoT is a means by which the ideal of working smarter, rather than harder, is becoming the new normal.

Yet as you introduce IoT solutions into your own business more and more, you’re wise to do so in a way that minimises the impact of implementation – from the cybersecurity risks involved, to the risk of alienating your less technologically adept members of staff, or even customers.

The advantage of a step-by-step approach

Due to how rapidly the IoT market is moving, it’s clear that the desire to quickly implement this technology both at home and in the workplace has created something of a disconnect between the level of security in mobile devices and computers, versus that of IoT devices.

Put simply, IoT tech is generally far less secure than computers and mobile devices on the same network, and modifying the software in these devices to be more secure isn’t the sort of thing an otherwise tech savvy entrepreneur can enact on their own initiative.

When considering the use of IoT solutions in your own business, don’t be afraid to take your time. When new systems and solutions come along, replete with hype and promises of productivity and convenience, don’t be shy in doing some deep research on the real pros and cons.

Furthermore, absolutely consider security of the IoT device in question as part of that. Analyse and draw your own conclusions as to whether this machine was created with security as an afterthought, or with this vital consideration instead at the forefront – as it should be.

If you can do without an IoT system immediately, not least since you’re not convinced of the security of a given IoT device, consider going back to its implementation at a later date. Many business managers hurry to make their offices or retail spaces a haven of gadgets and interconnected IoT devices, yet hurrying into that strategy — however tempting and impressive it may feel — only serves to increase your attack surface.

Your company’s attack surface is the sum total of all the potential points of entry into your system. Therefore, no matter how secure your servers and your computers are, they can still potentially be accessed if a hacker identifies an IoT device as a weak point for breaking into your network.

Make sure your team are aware of cybersecurity best practices

No matter the level of technical know how in your team, it’s important that your training and development conveys best practices to every employee, as well as any contractors or freelancers using your premises for their work alongside you.

Keep in mind that this isn’t a one and done thing. The development of technology and IoT is happening all the time, so security has to become a long term dialogue between you and your team. It’s a vital one, however, given that so many business data breaches are the result of human error and poor handling of sensitive data and assets.

Similarly, those connected devices in your office that are easiest to take for granted are those perhaps most likely to run afoul of cyber attacks. Printers are a big example of this, and many of the ways leaks and breaches can happen are astonishingly low-tech.

For example, consider the implications of your in-depth business strategy and list of innovations being printed out in a communal office and left just a little too long in the paper tray. Should someone decide to take that information for themselves, your secrets are as good as sold to your competitors. While hacking a printer’s WiFi signal to access data is all too possible, so too is someone simply swiping a document they were never supposed to see.

Allowing only authorised staff to use printers, or having access cards that must be physically scanned to unlock a large office printer, can be a good step in mitigating these threats. Alongside the benefits of firewalls and antivirus, endpoint security protection can add a preventative element to the security of individual devices, shielding users from harm and quickly alerting IT staff to ensure that potential threats are not actualised.

The question of progress versus complexity

If all this seems to be a complicated issue, consider your IoT integration strategy to be one that orbits around one simple question. Does introducing a given technology at this moment in time solve more problems than it causes?

It’s a classic pros versus cons debate, but having this kind of Occam’s Razor in your business – slicing through hype and fads that sometimes surrounds these technologies – can help to temper your approach.

While there is certainly no need to actively be against introducing IoT into your office, the right research, knowledge, training and patience can all combine to keep you, your colleagues and your business and data safe from attack or theft. Prevention is definitely better than cure in this situation.

Photo credits: eOffice, Coworking London

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