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Dave Waterson, CEO, SentryBay

Raising the shield against the risks of smart tech

With the continually growing number of smart devices being connected to the network, end point security needs to be much more carefully considered as Dave Waterson, CEO, SentryBay explains.

The prevalence of smart tech being used in businesses is growing exponentially. Internet of Things endpoints have been projected by Gartner to reach an installed base of 25.1 billion units by 2021 and while 64% of these will be consumer applications, that leaves a whopping number being utilised by organisations.

This growth is being enabled by evolving software and hardware technologies – the increased processing power of CPUs and the rapid development of wireless communications included – and a growing number of applications that bring myriad benefits to enterprises of all sizes.

Use of IoT devices also comes with a warning: they can be vulnerable to security breaches. The stories are legion – a petrochemical factory that suffered a ransomware attack because its IoT enabled coffee machine provided inadvertent access to the internal control room network; IoT connected light bulbs that have been used by hackers as a covert channel to exploit people’s private data; and fax machines that still use data transmission protocols that make them vulnerable to attackers looking for ways to infiltrate IT networks.

Smart device and endpoint security
When it comes to security, IoT and smart tech devices fall into a broad category known as endpoints.

Traditionally, an endpoint would have been any device or node connected to the LAN or WAN including workstations or end-user PCs, a modem, a hub or a switch. But endpoints now incorporate all digital devices from laptops, tablets and mobile phones which sit on the edge of the network, through to network printers, consumer and industrial IoT and smart devices and point-of-sale systems.

Securing this ever-expanding portfolio of endpoint technology has become an urgent necessity, not least because these devices represent a significant risk to global enterprises and to the cloud ecosystems that they are adopting.

It’s not just IoT enabled or smart tech devices that are vulnerable. Endpoints in general are the weakest link in the security chain. According to a report published last year, 70 per cent of breaches originate at the endpoint, and 42% of endpoints are unprotected at any given time. This vulnerability has become glaringly obvious to enterprises over the six months of lockdown as, irrespective of their central security policies or conventional anti-virus solutions, they have witnessed a rise in attacks on unmanaged smart devices and endpoints.

Protecting data
For resellers, the continued necessity for enterprise remote working provides an opportunity to extend the security blanket of their customers beyond the corporate network to incorporate newly distributed remote endpoints.

By specifying solutions designed to secure data on endpoints, including IoT devices and smartphones, resellers can not only cross-sell with other security software, but can also help customers to guard against specific threats. These might include keylogging, which aims to track every keystroke to gain access to the network, screen scraping malware which will steal personal credentials as well as sensitive corporate data and insecure browsing.

Resellers will have a good understanding of the breadth of applications that are being used remotely by employees, and can help organisations to secure data entry into Office365, virtual private networks, vmWare and Citrix, amongst others, regardless of the device used.

In many ways, resellers are uniquely positioned to put their metaphorical arms around the full security estate. Enterprises are looking for advice, perhaps recognising that they don’t know how much risk is being taken by employees using smart tech, but aware that any risk could lead to a major breach.

In the midst of this pandemic with back-to-work strategies on hold and remote working likely to continue for the foreseeable future, now is the time for enterprises to prioritise endpoint and device protection, and for resellers to deliver good advice, value, and most importantly a secure shield against cyberattacks.

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