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June 28, 2016

IoT and Network Security: The Threat Is Real, Folks

Let me tell you about my friend John, who owns a medium-sized business and is very excited about the Internet of Things (IoT).

Recently, John was telling me about the smart parking system he installed in his business’s parking lot.

“Rich,” he said, “this thing is fantastic—it lets me know how many spaces are being occupied, so I can see who is using my lot. If my store is empty and my lot is full, I’ll know that other businesses are using the space I pay for—and I don’t have to pay someone to keep watch.”

John, like countless business owners, is getting the first taste of the “good life” that automation affords. Connected solutions like smart parking and security systems, and environmental monitoring controls, can make life a lot easier for business owners, removing expensive and annoying hassles while also providing peace of mind. The IoT allows business owners to manage many different things right from the interface of a computer or mobile device.

But there’s a dark side to the IoT, too, that many people haven’t caught onto yet. As Network World recently pointed out, many IoT devices are being sent to market without proper security considerations. Some of these devices can be installed in a way that, if exploited, could leave networks wide open to intruders. For this reason, Gartner recommends that security professionals allocate between 5 and 10 percent of IT security spend toward protecting and monitoring IoT devices. Gartner also predicts that, by 2020, more than one-quarter of identified enterprise attacks will involve the IoT.

I explained this to John, and told him that, while it’s great he’s investing in the IoT, he needs to make sure his parking lot endpoints (meaning the cameras or sensors he is using to monitor cars) are properly protected from hackers who could remotely attack them from across the street, or a nearby building. Make no mistake about it: IoT endpoints are no different from laptops, smartphones, tablets or PCs. If hackers assume control over your system, they could work their way much deeper into your network and gain access to sensitive data, financial information or even physical operating systems.

Imagine, for instance, a hacker discovering a folder on your network with instruction on how to disable your alarm and security cameras. You could very well come to work in the morning and find your entire store cleaned out without a trace.

So take our advice: If you’re going to spend the money on an IoT system, protect your investment by hiring a third-party managed services provider like Apex Technology Services to make sure your network—and all of your physical endpoints—are safe from hackers. You will receive around the clock monitoring, regular security maintenance and access to a team of dedicated security professionals with expert advice.

A new breed of hacktrepeneurs has awoken and they have little to fear and everything to gain by infecting as many companies as possible and extorting money from them. Apex Technology Services stands ready to protect your company regardless of whether it’s located in New York CityWhite Plains, New York; Connecticut; Australia; Europe; or anywhere else. Our full suite of cybersecurity and IT support services is at your disposal, enabling you to spend less time worrying about and more time growing your business.

In addition, our new Cybersecurity Compliance Certification for law firms will help keep your legal practice from becoming the next Panama Papers victim. This baseline cybersecurity audit for the legal industry should be considered seriously by all law firms.

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