Two intersecting tech trends have been accelerating over the last several years, with even more emphasis over the last 12 months, due to COVID. One is the evolving Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem found in more and more homes, and the second is the rapid increase in work-from-home staff. In this article, we will discuss the impact IoT has had on employees, and how your business can continue to keep network and employee data secure.
When these trends combine, the threat to your organization’s security is real.
The first thing to recognize is that most infiltrations to a network are crimes of opportunity. Imagine an experienced burglar walking by your home at 2:00 a.m. and observes a closed front door with no other obvious entry. That same burglar notices your neighbor has multiple doors and windows, several of which are wide open. Oh, and your neighbor forgot to close the garage again!
In the same way, possible entries to the home data network are multiplying for an attacker. Think of your low-cost smart bulbs and smart plugs, many with un-patched vulnerabilities, as well as the burgeoning new network-attached appliances: Ovens, thermostats, refrigerators, TVs, perhaps even your car!
In most cases these “small computers” are connected to the same network as the phone and laptop employees use for business. If this network is compromised, the fallout could be as little as a minor disruption of service, up to complete infiltration of your organization.
Let’s consider the so-called “smart speaker” embedded in more and more devices. If a home-based worker is within range of such a device (despite the privacy assurances of big tech companies), bad actors could intercept the content of phone or video calls gaining intelligence for competitors or other nefarious work.
This technology has become such a concern that some organizations started banning these devices in the office, and require communications with no possibility of these listening devices overhearing.
With these devices connecting to one another more and more, it’s important to consider the security of your remote worker’s neighboring networks. A recent “What were they thinking?” headline highlights that our trust in big tech may be misplaced. A well-known series of smart devices was set up by default, under certain circumstances, to automatically connect via Wi-Fi and use nearby neighbors’ internet bandwidth if the household uses that company’s family of devices. The purpose was intended for convenience (the devices can continue to work in a power outage, for example), but with convenience brings increased vulnerability.
Limiting work-from-home vulnerabilities
Can you be sure that security best practices are always followed in each home environment? While the answer is unfortunately “no”, there are ways to limit risk, protect employees and keep network data safe. We make it our job to provide recommendations, best practices and solid advice to keep our customers informed and educated on the pitfalls and protection with the many technology challenges that exist in our environment today.
Pavelcomm is here to assist, contact us today for help with this or any rising tech challenges.