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Brimming with smart connected devices and revenue-generating data, the Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to be a game changer for many enterprises. For some, it's already having an effect, although not the kind CIOs want to deal with.
A majority of IT professionals, 68 percent, are feeling the pressure to improve business efficiency by adopting smart devices and other IoT-enabling technologies, according to a survey of 270 information security specialists from network security firm Tripwire. Moving IT forward is seldom a bad thing, but the problem is that IoT devices are already wending their way into corporate networks in spite of the risks to their users and data.
In short, many enterprise IoT initiatives are not off to an encouraging start.
Tripwire found that 68 percent of IT professionals – not average, run-of-the-mill users – were connected smart personal devices to their networks, defying policies that prohibit the practice. And most technology buyers (73 percent) are basing their purchasing decisions on a device's functionality, not security.
Workers are playing with fire, even when they're doing something as seemingly innocuous as topping off their batteries. "Even though many organizations have policies against connecting personal smart devices to their corporate networks, employees often feel that connecting these devices via USB to charge them isn't a problem," said Ken Westin, a Tripwire security analyst, in a statement.
Some workers are placing critical business systems in danger, said Westin.
"I've heard a number of stories about the security alerts generated when employees plug their smart phones into point-of-sale devices, a practice that can easily introduce additional risk," he lamented. "This is really an education problem – employees need a better understanding of the risks involved and IT teams need to provide reasonable options so employees can remain productive without increasing security risks to the organization."
Citing a forecast from IT market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC), Tripwire noted that there will be over 28 billion sensors and other IoT devices in operation by 2020. Those devices are expected to help generate an added $1.9 trillion in economic value, most of it from services (80 percent), creating too tempting a target for hackers and cybercriminals.
IoT is already starting to invade workplaces, whether they want it to or not. Twenty-seven percent of respondents told Tripwire that they already own between five and ten smart devices, not including laptops and smartphones.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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