Keeping Connected Devices Secure: National Cybersecurity Awareness Month Week 4

Home device connected with mobile phone

Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart is the motto at the heart of this year’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). Promoted by the National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, the month-long event, now in its 17th year, offers key guidance in a world where cyber risks spread daily.

This week’s theme (week 4) is connected devices. Spanning traditional computing hardware to an increasingly wide range of physical devices and objects, connected devices interface with the internet and each other via a host of networks and protocols, including WIFI, NFC, 3G, and 4G. But are they secure? And, if not, how can they be made more so?

Delving into IoT Data

Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are a growing portion of the connected device landscape. By 2021, Gartner estimates that 25 billion IoT devices will be in service.¹ And by 2023, the IDC estimates that a whopping $1.1trn will be spent on these devices annually.²

Yet, according to a recent report, 98 percent of all IoT device traffic is unencrypted, potentially exposing sensitive data on the network to attackers. By listening to unencrypted network traffic, cybercriminals can collect that data — possibly leaking it or selling it for profit on the dark web.

Phone used for healthcare sppointment

IoT risks and dangers are also industry-specific. For example, studies show that 51 percent of threats³ for healthcare organizations involve imaging devices, with security holes potentially enabling attackers to exfiltrate patient data stored on them. Moreover, the data reveals that 72 percent of healthcare VLANs mix IoT and IT assets,³ possibly enabling malware to spread from users’ computers to vulnerable IoT devices on the same network.

Keeping Connected Devices Secure

Yet, help is at hand. NCSAM is a good reminder to strengthen your defenses against IoT risks and prepare for the growing threat. There are several key steps organizations can take to instantly reduce their connected risk and eliminate some of the easiest targets for attackers. These measures must cover traditional computing devices, IoT devices, and the broader network, ensuring the widest possible blanket of protection.

Scan Your Network

An important place to start is with smart device scanning and profiling. Using this technique, it’s possible for IT to obtain key insights into what devices are connected to a given network, their risk profiles, as well as their network behavior when interacting with other connected devices. In this way, suspicious devices or behavior can be detected.

Patch Key Devices

Optimum security means ensuring that all devices are running on the latest software and are kept up to date. One straightforward way to diminish risk is by patching devices such as printers as well as other devices such as imaging and patient monitoring systems.

Segment Wisely

Segmented networks can halt infection vector spread. By leveraging intelligent VLAN configurations as well as firewall policies, organizations can effectively implement network segments. Segmentation should be mindful of device type, threat levels, usage patterns, and other device profile characteristics to be most effective.

Monitor Actively

After all the devices on a network have been identified, patched, and segmented, monitoring becomes crucial to rapidly discover attacks, identify vulnerabilities, and reveal the behavior of network-connected devices. LogRhythm’s NextGen SIEM Platform delivers comprehensive security analytics, UEBA, NTA, and SOAR within a single, integrated platform for rapid detection, response, and neutralization of threats.

Spread the Word

The last step involves educating staff and partners and creating strong security advocates. By making sure everyone within an organization is aware of the risks of cybercrime, and how it happens, it’s possible to reduce criminal infiltration, ransomware, phishing and more.

Why not use our security poster master pack to help bring awareness to a host of risky behaviors users in your organization should avoid? Download our security awareness poster master pack here.