28 Sep

Why CIOs Need to Prioritize Security for the Internet of Things

Posted by John Brandwagt

You don’t often think about the security implications when you install office lights that are controlled by your phone, but the reality of today’s tech safety issues is that these connected devices could pose a serious threat to organizations around the world.

While businesses and consumers have become obsessed with the Internet of Things, tech leaders need to turn their attention to the safety concerns surrounding IoT devices before it’s too late—or face repercussions that we have yet to skim the surface of.

Hiding in Plain Sight

The main issue with devices connected through the Internet of Things is that you may not even think twice about the way that they’re connected to sensitive pieces of tech. Sure, you might take the utmost care with your smart phone or smart car, but do you take the same precautions with your automated window tint and coffee maker? While these devices usually aren’t high on a CIO’s priority list, it is definitely possible for these devices to become infiltrated. A computer worm could easily spread through smart light bulbs via a snowball effect, which could become a major issue for companies with sensitive data if the security concerns aren’t dealt with in an efficient manner.

Where to Start

Gartner estimates that 6.4 billion devices connected through the Internet of Things will be in use in 2016, a number that is up 30 percent even from a year ago. By 2020, that number will reach nearly 20.8 billion. With the sheer number of IoT devices available and the growing accessibility of them, protecting your sensitive data will become impossible if not attended to right away.

With devices that people normally think of as “dangerous” in terms of security—like your cellphone and laptop—companies have incentive to add top-notch security features because the demand from consumers is there. Tech companies add patches and updates when vulnerabilities are exposed, but the same can’t be said when your refrigerator or thermostat is at risk. Without the incentive to add security features and patches to their IoT devices, tech companies won’t dedicate the care to ensuring that they’re properly protected.

If CIOs are planning on incorporating a lot of IoT devices into the workplace, putting pressure on tech companies to add baked-in security with encryption or authentication is a good place to start early on in the game. Influential CIOs can make a big difference in the ways that tech companies interact with their consumers, especially where security policy is concerned.

Into the Future

At this point in the market, the Internet of Things is innovative technology. Development is continuously in the works, and progress is being made in such a way that an avalanche of developments will reach the mass general public in a matter of a few short years. So what does the future of IoT security look like?

In the same way that cloud security grew at a relatively slow pace, it seems that IoT safety is equally sluggish—but not for long. The tech industry’s history of solving complex problems will continue to prevail, especially when pressure is placed on the right people and companies to get the job done. One thing is for certain though—for now, CIOs have to take security into their own hands to ensure that their company’s sensitive data is protected. Maintaining proper security protocol with vigilance is the best and most efficient way to prioritize security for the Internet of Things, and should be enforced by tech leaders across industries.

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Topics: IT Security

John Brandwagt

John is a Practice Leader at Inteqna. He’s been working in IT Search in Calgary since 1997. He works best with selective job seekers—those who excel at what they do and enjoy their current jobs. Since they don’t have time to look for themselves, he helps them find their dream jobs. From a client perspective, he helps organizations find the talent that will propel their business. John is involved in several of Calgary’s technical user groups and has held board roles in non-profit groups. He is a single dad of four boys who try to beat him at every physical activity from hiking to rugby.

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