How SMBs can address IoT security and privacy concerns.

The Internet of Things (IoT) can offer great benefits to businesses and their customers. However, it can also involve security and privacy risks.

These risks are often conceptualized in terms of large-scale initiatives, such as energy grids. But smaller connected devices are also at risk of being misused by bad actors. Consider, for example, a spa tub with unsecured temperature controls.

Here are four ways small and medium businesses (SMBs) can mitigate security risks as they design and implement their projects.

1. Start with local regulations.

IoT applications that collect data from machines owned by individuals may fall under the domain of a growing number of laws that dictate how companies may use consumer data. For example, the European Union’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) and related laws apply to many IoT applications. However, complying with regulations isn’t a guarantee of total protection. For example, the California Consumer Privacy Act, which took effect at the beginning of this year, includes provisions for IoT applications that may not be comprehensive enough to ensure protection from attacks. Still, local regulations are a good starting place for thinking about how to build security and protections into your applications.

2. Use hack-proof components.

Many SMBs do not have the specialized in-house expertise required to ensure their IoT hardware is protected from the latest security vulnerabilities. This is but one reason to consider using a trusted third-party connectivity module. Particle develops one such offering on a managed subscription basis. The company regularly conducts security audits of its products to ensure that they stay a step beyond hackers.

3. Encrypt sensitive data.

Through individual transactions - and particularly in aggregate - IoT applications can reveal information about a business that could be valuable to a competitor. Applications in fields such as healthcare, insurance, and education can be often tied back to sensitive data about people as well. Indeed, one of the major challenges of IoT applications can be moving across multiple secure databases and applications seamlessly and securely. Robust applications require dynamic and difficult-to-guess passwords that change often. That’s why it’s important to use a rapid application development environment like Claris FileMaker that allows encryption of such data.

4. Consider cellular technology.

Many IoT applications rely on infrastructure that leverages local Wi-Fi networks. While such infrastructure can be cost-effective, the application’s security is subject to the reliability of individual networks and can be vulnerable to negligence or rogue clients. Using cellular technology circumvents these risks. Today, many applications rely on 3G cellular technology, which is set to be phased out by several carriers in the next few years. 4G LTE technology is the next natural step and offers the broadest coverage. However, some deployments are waiting for 5G technology now entering the market in order to ensure the longest possible deployment time before the next major wireless network upgrade.

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