Regardless of your thoughts on the Internet of Things, you can't ignore the fact that the number of connected devices continues to rise by the year. In fact, some predict a rise of more than 30 billion connected devices by 2020, with this number more than doubling by 2025.

While the Internet of Things is bringing a lot of good to the world, such as the ability to greatly increase productivity throughout a variety of industries, it's also generating new challenges, including those associated with cyber security. Here is a rundown of a few risks connected devices pose, and how you can prepare yourself (and your employees) to stay vigilant.

1. Lack of preparation

Companies from one side of the globe to the next are ready to take full advantage of the Internet of Things (if they haven't already begun to do so). But here's the problem: many of these same companies don't have a system in place for securing these devices.

The novelty of AI assistants and connected kitchen appliances can blind people from some harsh potential realities. While it's promising that more companies are committing themselves to innovation by integrating emerging smart devices, it's essential to build in formal training and education components to the integration process.

So, while a growing number of companies want to take advantage of the benefits associated with the Internet of Things, almost all of them have concerns about internal and/or external safety measures.

2. Unsecured personal devices

In theory, BYOD, or bring your own device, is a great idea. This allows employees to use their own smartphones, tablets, and computers for work purposes. From a company perspective, this can save a lot of time and money.

On the flip side, there are security risks of any BYOD strategy, as there is no way of knowing if a worker's personal devices are as safe as they could be. Individual smartphone devices pose massive threats to overarching company security, because in theory, if a hacker can break into one employee's mobile data, they may easily gain access to sensitive company files.

3. Data, data, and more data

Internet of Things devices are capable of generating and storing a mind boggling amount of data.

When you look at this from a company's point of view, it's easy to see just how much risk is involved. From text messages to email marketing campaigns, IoT devices can generate a crazy number of data points every day.

Get this: a 2015 Federal Trade Commission report entitled "Internet of Things: Privacy & Security in a Connected World" noted that fewer than 10,000 households have the ability to generate 150 million discrete data points on a single day.

When you look at this on a large scale, such as a company with thousands upon thousands of employees, it's easy to see just how much data is floating around.

It's not so much the amount of data that's out there, it's the ability to protect all of it. The more data points that are created the easier it is for hackers to find an entry point, thus accessing sensitive information.

4. Outdated employee training

The Internet of Things and cyber security go together hand in hand, which is why a growing number of companies are investing time and money into training employees on what they can do to keep themselves and their company safe. Unfortunately, a lot of corporate security training programs are lagging.

Across companies in almost every vertical, employees undergo annual, if not quarterly, compliance and safety trainings. A lot of the content in decades-old training programs is, not only mind-numbing, but also incomplete. The fact is, the cyber threats facing companies today are different than they were five years ago.

The time is now to update training programs to include mobile and connected device insights and tips. But it's not enough to simply warn employees of potential vulnerabilities; companies have to take it upon themselves to instruct every individual, regardless of position or level, to regularly update their devices and practice smart password management.

There's no slowing down the Internet of Things. It will continue to affect cyber security in the future, with companies and individuals alike needing to change their approach to avoid trouble.

Published on: Oct 2, 2017