There’s a Bit of Pandemic Safety You Might Be Neglecting...

15th September 2020

News

“Wash your Hands!” sign up. Sanitiser on every desk. Meeting room seats appropriately distanced. Masks in every handbag or back pocket. There are so many safety procedures we all need to follow in this new normal, isn’t there?

There’s one other thing though. One risk that businesses aren’t preparing for. This one’s not spread by coughing, but it is airborne. And your employees can spread it around. It’s the risk posed by the Internet of Things (IoT), and it’ll swiftly move around home WiFi networks to add whole new security risks that your business isn’t prepared for.

Read on, because this will take more than a bottle of hand sanitiser to fix.

 

One Trillion Points of Risk

 

Working from home is great for keeping employees safe from disease, but it’s added a new vector for your network security. Your home workers’ laptops and smartphones are suddenly sharing networks with internet-enabled devices (and there will be more than a trillion of those by the middle of the decade). 

These IoT devices - smart speakers, video doorbells and the like - will be using the same WiFi network as work-issued laptops. And unlike those laptops that your IT team have so scrupulously secured, they haven’t been checked, aren’t being monitored, and can’t seamlessly slot into your security systems.

 

IoT Devices Are Your Blind Spot

 

A WiFi controlled heating system or a smart fridge can’t really lead to a data breach in your IT system, can it?

After all, we’re talking about a fridge. Or a boiler. Or a lightbulb. These aren’t exactly catburglars-in-waiting.

Unfortunately, they are. Many IoT devices have serious security vulnerabilities and can be accessed remotely by unscrupulous actors. You’ve probably read all about a spate of wireless baby monitor hackings in the USA and the UK, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

Not because hackers will take control of a wireless camera and read data over your unaware employee’s shoulder, but because once they’re into a home network, it’s easier to move laterally to other devices on that network. The laptops and smartphones that you’ve so diligently secured from external threats will suddenly be vulnerable from someone sneaking in through the virtual back door.

So what can you do?

 

Securing Your Assets from IoT Risk

 

Unless you’re the world’s most bossy manager, you won’t even dream of dictating what smart devices your workforce can have in their homes. And even if you took that step, most employees would see an email asking them to throw out their Alexa and disconnect Nest as a signal to find a new job.

Instead, you need to take two steps to secure your data. 1) Educate, and 2) Upgrade.

Educating your employees should be a key part of your security processes. If they’re aware of threats, they’re less likely to fall victim. So inform them about the danger of the IoT. Remind them that smart speakers and cameras should be turned off during confidential calls and video meetings. Show them how to segment their home networks to keep valuable company data separated from their smart devices. And reassure them that they can take steps to stay safe.

 

Then, look at upgrading your own systems. Endpoint security suites will let your IT team monitor IoT devices for any vulnerabilities, and increase app and data security across your employees’ home networks. 

A safer, more secure home? That’s the sort of added benefit that any worker will appreciate.

We’ll be happy to advise you on security systems and software that you can use to reduce the risk, but remember. The first step is to inform and educate people about that risk. 

So after you’ve washed your hands and splashed on the hand sanitizer, fire off an email to everyone that’s working from home and ask them what IoT devices they’re using. Then, your IT department can start looking at ways to keep everything safe and secure.