5G is going to change the game for industrial operations. We’ll be able to access more data than before, faster than ever before. For manufacturers, though, one of the primary advantages will come in the form of IoT devices.
IoT devices like sensors on a 5G network will operate thanks to the improved signal strength differently. 5G networks will allow us to not only monitor a specific shipment, but also far more sensors per shipment.
Say, for example, that you manufacture microchips. In the past, it was impossible to place sensors with each microchip. We had the technology to incorporate the sensors into the chips. What we didn’t have was the signal strength to differentiate between each different sensor on our networks. 5G will change that.
The improved signal strength also means that coverage over rural areas will improve. As a result, we’ll be able to incorporate more time-saving IoT devices onto the network. The convenience comes at a cost, though – those devices present a cybersecurity risk.
Why? IoT devices are attacked around 5,300 times a month. IoT devices like scanners are typically considered low-risk because they don’t contain a lot of sensitive company information.
Paradoxically, that’s precisely why you must secure them. Because they’re considered low-risk items, their in-built security systems might be less than ideal. And while they don’t store sensitive information, they link through to your company’s internal systems.
Welcome to the digital age, where everything is connected.
Hackers might not even go as far as the computer. They might hack the smart TV in the boardroom to spy on meetings. They’ve also been known to hijack IoT devices and use them as part of a bot army to conduct large scale attacks.
Your company’s own devices could be used in a DoS attack on your servers.
Now, let’s look at ways to secure our devices.
Consider Creating Your Own 5G Network
It’s an expensive option, but gives you complete control over your security protocols and who has access to your systems. Naturally, you’d still need sophisticated cybersecurity protection, but a private network is a good option for those that can afford it.
Use Top-Level Encryption
Be prepared to devote more of your annual cybersecurity budget to encrypting your data and your network. 5G makes things faster for you, and for the cybercriminal as well.
Consider Partitioned Networks
This might sound a little paranoid, but it’ll help keep your company more secure. Create a secondary network to keep your IoT devices separate. At some point, the systems will need to interact, but you can create higher security levels at these points.
Use the same policy when you have to give third-party vendors access to your systems. Bring them in as guest users with minimal privileges and access.
Change the Default Names of IoT Devices
Manufacturers of IoT devices usually set a simple, generic password for all their devices. This makes things a lot easier for them but also for hackers. Cybercriminals have access to the same manufacturer data that you do. When you buy new devices, make sure to change the password.
If you’re dealing with huge quantities of devices, this could be time-consuming. An alternative might be to run those devices on a separate network, as outlined above.
Password Security is Just as Important on IoT Devices
Again, this tip depends on the number of devices in use. You don’t want to change the passwords on twenty thousand sensors, for example. That said, there’s no excuse not to do so for devices like scanners, POS devices, printers, and so on.
Start with a strong password for each device, and don’t use the same passwords for every device. If a hacker gets one password, they’ve got them all.
What classifies as a secure password?
- At least 16 characters
- A mixture of numbers, letters, and special characters
- At least one upper and lowercase letter
- A random selection of characters.
Check the Individual Settings for Every Device
This seems a little tedious, but it’s simple enough if you check the settings while setting up the device. It’s best to enable the highest level security settings that are practical for your company.
Disable Features You Won’t Use
Are there features that your company won’t use on devices? Most features are enabled automatically. Check through these and see which ones you can disable.
Update Your Software
All company software must be updated regularly. Cybersecurity software should be updated daily, but don’t forget programs like Office, Adobe, and so on.
Check Devices that You Already Own
In the sixties, a computer took up a whole room. Today we have flash drives with higher capacities. It’s time for companies to check their inventories and consider updating their technology.
The problem with outdated technology is that the company making it may stop providing support. Aside from that, the security within technology can also become obsolete. See if the latest models offer better security options.
Enable Multi-Factor Authentication
If the manufacturer gives you the option of multi-factor authentication, use it. It might add a step or two to the process, but it makes it harder for a hacker to gain control of your device. Even if they do figure out what the password is, they won’t have the second authentication factor.
Reduce Physical Access
You secure your devices against theft. Do you secure them against cyber criminals using them to plant malware, though? Companies are usually cautious about who enters their server rooms, but how much attention do they pay to their POS, scanners, and so on?
Keep access to all devices as restricted as possible as a further precaution against bad actors.
Another aspect to consider here is who has physical access to your company’s Wi-Fi signal. It’s common knowledge that hackers often use physical proximity to make it easier to find the company’s Wi-Fi network. With 5G technology, that network will have a wider range. It’s time to start looking at ways to reduce the range of the signal linked to your primary systems.
Overall, IoT security is a lot like standard cybersecurity and should be taken just as seriously. Use multiple protection factors and increase the overall security of each device to keep your company data safe.
More resources on cybersecurity here.
This article was written by Nikola Djurkovic, the Editor in Chief at carsurance.net. He has worked in the insurance industry as an assistant underwriter, and through his experience he learned the inner workings of insurance policies, from quotes to renewals—becoming a real insurance guru. He’s passionate about helping other people navigate the complex structures of insurance coverage and understand its intricate terminology. He is also an avid reader, movie/series binge-watcher, and nature enthusiast.
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