By Bill Hirdler, Technical Support Manager, MidCo Inc.
Cyber threats aren’t tangible, so it is no wonder there has been an increase in cyber attacks given the rise of the Internet of Things. When it comes to protecting your business, employees and assets, there are a few precautions that should be taken into account, ranging from traditional forms of security to precautionary measures that might seem less obvious. Using a combination of best practices is the easiest way to ensure important information will remain secure.
The easiest and most obvious security measure is to install a firewall on your network and to keep firmware up to date. An important part of the firewall is only allowing the necessary ports and devices to communicate through it. Keeping a tight control over what is allowed through the firewall is important to device security. Also, having advanced monitoring services such as deep packet inspection to inspect the content of the packets, and not just header information. Deep packet inspection can also assist in network management to streamline the flow of network traffic ensuring high priority traffic can be prioritized.
Another measure to consider is to isolate your video and access control systems from the network you use to manage our business operations. While this approach is contrary to what the security industry has discussed in recent years, increased vulnerability has prompted many businesses to take this approach. By placing security devices on their own isolated network the probability of a breach is more unlikely because the use of IP and MAC address filters can provide basic defense when a separate physical network is not a possibility.
Change Default Passwords & Setting
There are online searchable databases that expose publically accessible and vulnerable devices easily providing hackers with information on devices are directly exposed to the internet. It’s important to keep in mind that, as the Internet of Things continues to grow, so do options for devices on the network. A home owner or small business can now buy a camera online and easily connect it to their mobile device. However, by just using a plug and play method, this video camera is now connected to the internet and attaching to servers on the location closest to your mobile device, further opening up the camera, mobile device and the network to potential hackers. These now become an extremely easy target since there are few precautions. Changing default login credentials and disabling unused/unneeded services are basic and easy measures to help prevent backdoor access or exploits.
While automatic updates will connect devices to the internet, it’s better to have them turned on than to forget to update firmware completely. Leaving something unpatched and un-updated is something hackers look for, and is an easy loophole in security. One approach to handle updates is to establish a scheduled maintenance window where you will manually install any updates to control exactly what gets installed and when. This helps to ensure that nothing from the internet can sneak its way past you.
In addition, performing network baseline measurements to see normal network activity can help indicate or pinpoint causes of unusual network activity or spikes in bandwidth. This is also a good practice to ensure authorized devices are communicating without issue and help optimize network performance.
There are some security measures that have become second nature for many people, but there are still other best practices that people would not know to look out for. The best defense against outside threats is to first recognize that any device can become vulnerable at any time, and to take the necessary precautions.