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Is It Time to Worry about IoT?

Jun 28, 2018, 18:00 PM by Trenton Baker

Future of IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) connects devices to the Internet, enabling them to send and receive data. IoT connects humans to technology for a higher standard of living with autonomous cars connect with smartphones, hospital with biosensors and wearables, and smart home devices like Wi-Fi-enabled coffee machines. However, IoT can cause serious security problems because few developers build sufficient security into IoT devices.

Robust backup solutions create data availability, by protecting data on devices, servers, and VMs, thus providing the means to seamlessly restore data and applications when necessary. A holistic cloud data availability strategy offers continuous accessibility and visibility by backing up critical data wherever it happens to reside—whether it’s in the cloud, on-premises, or in a hybrid of both.

First, let’s define the difference between IoT and connected devices. Formally there is not much of a difference: they are both devices with computing capability attached to the Internet.

Informally IoT refers to Internet monitoring tools and “dumb” devices like household appliances. For example, your Internet-enabled coffee maker may communicate with the smell of fresh coffee, but it’s not going to place a phone call for you anytime soon. Connected devices are devices with native computing intelligence such as laptops, smartphones, and IP video surveillance. Yet, none of these things would have been possible without secure collection of data to learn from and act upon. IoT runs on data – or even that IoT is data.

In practice, development aims are quite similar: build communities of products containing embedded systems that enable interconnection via the Internet. Stacks consist of the device, a network with Internet connectivity, the Internet, and backend computing services.

Internet of Things devices forecast

By 2020, Internet of Things devices is forecast to grow to almost 31 billion worldwide. The IoT market is projected to be in excess of $1B annually from 2017 onwards.
- Source: IHS, Statista 2018

The Crux of the Matter: Securing All Those Devices

IoT and connected devices share another important characteristic: vulnerability to attack. Large-scale malware and security breaches are happy to ride in on devices’ Internet connections.

Few IoT device manufacturers proactively build security into their devices. Developing cyber-security for devices takes money, time and retooling; and most manufacturers are reluctant to charge higher prices for it.

This will change as more consumers and businesses come to understand how potentially vulnerable these connected devices are. Developers can make cyber-security a competitive advantage because they know they will be compensated for development time and resources.

The change is happening now. Consumers and businesses are deeply concerned about IoT security. According to Ponemon Institute and Shared Assessments’ Second Annual Study on the Internet of Things (IoT): A New Era of Third-Party Risk, 97 percent of respondents feared a catastrophic cyber-attack on IoT devices leading to service interruptions and the invasion of privacy. 60% also identified ransomware attacks as an IoT vulnerability.

One strategy to manage the onslaught of data starts with making better use of backup data, precisely the data that’s sitting on endpoint devices, such as laptops, desktops and in cloud file-sharing services. KeepItSafe enables enterprises to secure backup data from laptops and edge devices through a solution we call Endpoint Protection, which protects data on client PCs and mobile devices, but gives anywhere access to this same data.

IoT Solutions for Healthcare Providers

One such industry poised or susceptible to IoT, depending on your view, is healthcare. Digital health solutions continue to take center stage in attempts to move to a new paradigm of patient treatment, health monitoring, and data management.

Innovative healthcare solutions are continuously being introduced in the medical industry, enabling healthcare providers to reduce costs, improve patient treatment, and optimize workflow. Safe data storage, protected transactions, secure data exchanges between healthcare organizations, immutable data records, and transparent data are all areas ready to adopt IoT life-change solutions and will fall under HIPAA and ePHI regulations. Mobile applications, smart devices, biosensors, wearables, and home virtual assistants will require predictive data analytics and must, therefore, have a secure data protection strategy in place that backs up all data whether at the edge or in the cloud.

According to Grand View Research Inc.,. IoT in the healthcare market is expected to reach nearly USD 409.9 billion by 2022.

Will It Happen to Me?

IoT attacks are still uncommon, but they do happen. Different programming languages, operating systems, and computing platforms make it a challenge to attack devices in a widespread concerted move. However, as enterprising hackers wake up to the opportunity presented by multiple vulnerable points, they will exert the time and resources to hack promising devices.

The Joy of Tech

Courtesy of The Joy of Tech at Geek Culture

Defend Yourself

Businesses can protect themselves today. Existing security is the first defense. Most companies already protect their network from intrusion and many also secure edge devices. Granted that hackers are regularly coming out with new attack methods, but businesses continuously adjust with new defensive measures. If you have a good security infrastructure already in place, you will protect yourself from edge attack including IoT devices.

Another best practice is to segment networks. Most companies with large IoT deployments like a smart warehouse already do this. But not all network vulnerabilities are so obvious. Within a few years, your company may purchase a smart toaster or refrigerator for a hospitality suite. Segmenting the network against a toaster attack sounds funny, but in fact, smart appliances introduce vulnerability.

Securing IoT and connected devices against attack is a multi-factor approach. Success depends on locating secured device technology, deploying monitoring systems and educating end-users. This all leads back to why backup is critical to the success of IoT-connected operations. Backup keeps the river of data flowing so that cranes can keep lifting, windmills keep spinning, workers stay safe, and home coffee makers remain connected.

Cloud data protection solutions such as KeepItSafe Endpoint Protection isn’t going to thoroughly address all the issues involved with the Internet of Things, but it shall be a valuable tool in every company’s IT cloud backup solution stack. Data remains invaluable. #KeepItSafe

Readers of this blog post are also interested in this webinar:

The Role of the MSP in the Multi-Cloud

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