Gartner projected that by 2023, CIOs will be responsible for more than triple the number of endpoints they were accountable for in 2018 due to the rapid evolution of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. With billions of physical devices worldwide connected to the internet, this prediction seems to be becoming a reality. However, the advancement of IoT technology has proved to be a double-edged sword when it comes to cybersecurity and compliance.
IoT devices generate massive volumes of various data types that are stored, managed, and shared within an organization's IT infrastructure. Consequently, they add to the risk landscape concerning cybersecurity, third-party risk, and compliance with data protection regulations.
Securing IoT devices is not only about safeguarding the device itself but also securing the access they provide. Apart from examining the device's inherent vulnerabilities, one must also consider how and where IoT devices connect to the network, how they handle and store data, and their user interface.
Throughout this article, we'll explore how IoT devices can be exploited, the top 5 threats they pose to data protection and privacy, and why it's essential to secure them from a compliance standpoint. It's vital to pay close attention to protecting your organization from security disasters and avoid penalties and lawsuits that may result from non-compliance with current regulations.
Here is a brief list of common, real-world applications with associated popular device examples.
IoT devices are primarily compromised through these attack vectors:
Now that we understand how IoT devices can be used maliciously and harm your business, let's examine the five significant threats these devices present to data protection and privacy. Failing to take the appropriate steps to address these threats and maintain documentation of your efforts could lead to penalties for non-compliance with at least one data protection regulation in the future.
IoT sensors and devices gather vast quantities of precise information regarding their surroundings and users, sometimes without explicit consent or knowledge, including sensitive data. Consequently, depending on your business or industry's regulatory requirements, this information must be protected in the same manner as other sensitive data within your network. For instance, if you acquire medical data in the United States through a group of IoT devices, you must protect it in accordance with HIPAA regulations.
Just one inadequately secured IoT device is all that a cybercriminal needs to launch a devastating attack on your network. Moreover, an unscrupulous insider could also leverage an unsecured IoT device to execute a comprehensive cyber assault on your organization. Ignoring these potential threats is unacceptable according to any data protection regulation, and thus demands prompt action.
IoT environments are intricate and contribute to the intricacy of your IT system. Due to their distinctive characteristics, it is neither practical nor presently feasible to establish a universal security policy that applies to all IoT devices. The exponential increase in remote work has only magnified this challenge. For instance, even though many businesses may not have employees' personal devices in the office during the COVID-19 pandemic, employees may have access to them in their homes (which now function as their offices), allowing business-related work and data to be jeopardized by exploiting such devices.
As per Ponemon Institute's 2021 Data Exposure Report, home networks are 71 percent less secure than office networks. If your organization neglects to address this hazard, it may lead to dire consequences when compliance auditors investigate.
Security awareness training is a strong approach to minimizing the possibility and severity of cyberattacks. Nonetheless, the absence of widespread knowledge and awareness at the user level regarding IoT poses a formidable risk to the security of IoT data. It is an enormous task to educate all personnel on IoT functionality and the associated risks. Compliance regulations worldwide regard security awareness training as a critical component of the data protection framework. The absence of this training could lead to unfavorable results during a compliance audit for your business or organization.
Undoubtedly, IoT devices pose a direct danger to the privacy of yourself and your customers. Every piece of information they disclose about your organization via an IoT device represents a portion of privacy surrendered. Hence, it is our duty to safeguard client privacy and data. Failing to do so could result in significant consequences. For instance, according to the EU's GDPR, each user must have the "right to be forgotten," and if your business is unable to fulfill this requirement, non-compliance penalties will apply.
Even though there may be no globally recognized regulatory prerequisites or "standards" for IoT device security, it is unwise to assume that worldwide regulators are unconcerned with the dangers posed to IoT devices and data. This is not only a cybersecurity issue but also a compliance matter. Investing in appropriate security solutions will improve your organization's cybersecurity position against IoT-associated risks. Nevertheless, to overcome this challenge from a compliance perspective, you undoubtedly could use additional support.
By utilizing Hixardt’s automated cybersecurity and compliance process platforms, we can assist you in identifying IoT risks during standard risk assessments, implementing corrective actions, and generating compliance documentation automatically. In addition, you can avoid IoT-associated risks associated with compliance standards such as HIPAA, GDPR, CMMC, NIST CSF, and your cyber insurance policy. Simply send [email protected] an email, and we will assist you in getting started.
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The advancement of IoT technology has proved to be a double-edged sword when it comes to cybersecurity and compliance.