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Risk Management

Securing The Unmanaged

The world is becoming more and more connected. The Internet of Things (IoT) has seen an explosion of online devices over the last few years. There are now 10bn of these appliances connected to the Internet. And that number is expected to rise to 25bn by the end of this decade.

What “things” are now connected to the Internet?

Most of us will have a “smart device” in our home already. It might be a smart speaker or a doorbell cam that connects to your smartphone via your Wi-Fi, for example.

But there are also a growing number of commercial and industrial smart devices, such as:

  • CCTV systems
  • HVAC systems
  • Security systems
  • Refrigerators
  • Vending machines
  • Lighting systems

There are two main reasons why more and more people connect devices to the Internet: efficiency and convenience.

How do these smart devices help businesses?

We already know from our own IoT devices that they can be a great help around the home.

For businesses, IoT devices are more efficient and easier to manage.

For example, a smart coffee vending machine can let the vendor know when it needs refilling or maintenance. This cuts down in routine visits (to check just in case something needs attention) and means that the workforce can focus their attention on the most pressing issues.

This can lead to significant reductions in servicing costs for larger companies.

But you need protection

Don’t think you can just connect your IoT device to the Internet and forget about it. Like any connected device, these machines need protection from cyber-criminals.

Unfortunately, too many smart devices have minimal security in place – or even none at all.

Your unprotected device will be susceptible to a cyber-attack, which could lead to:

  • Theft of sensitive business data
  • A major interruption to your business
  • Regulatory fines
  • Long-term damage to your reputation

For the best protection, you need to ensure that your devices are under constant surveillance for any breaches; all data linked to the machine is monitored; it is probably best to segment your infrastructure.

What is a segmented infrastructure, and why does it matter?

Most companies are like a snail or a crab when it comes to online protection: tough on the outside but soft on the inside. Many companies use a firewall and other protections to stop intruders from getting into their network.

But no protection is 100% perfect.  So, what happens if cybercriminals breach your defences?  Without a segmented infrastructure, it’s a free for all.  Hackers can obtain any data they want, and there is nothing to stop them.

But with a segmented infrastructure, your data is separated into discrete segments.

You can contain any breach and minimize the damage. There are other benefits to a segmented infrastructure too:

Access Control: you can manage which of your employees are allowed to access which segments. This can reduce user errors.

Improved monitoring: it is easier to detect suspicious or erratic behaviour within your network.

Improved performance: with less movement between segments, local traffic is kept to what is necessary, which makes for a more efficient network.

With a segmented infrastructure, you can easily see and manage how your network should work, which in turn makes it easier to spot any unusual – and potentially malicious – activity.

A more sophisticated way to manage your devices

Many modern cyber-attacks are Zero Day: they are totally novel, which means that older forms of protection – such as anti-virus software – will not recognize the threat and cannot defend your network.

However, a well-designed, segmented infrastructure with managed and monitored end devices will reduce the risk to your organization, which is more important than in a world of ever-increasing cyber-threats.