IoT Device Problems and Bonus Tips on Shadow IT
Some people love the concept of the internet of things or IoT. Many people already have a smart speaker they can talk to, and some are ahead of the game with refrigerators, washing machines, and more with a wi-fi connection. It’s starting to feel like if there is anything in a home that uses electricity, it will inevitably end up being connected to the internet.
To some, that sounds like the pinnacle of convenience. Starting a wash cycle from work or increasing the temperature on a smart thermostat on the commute home could be life-changing. However, it is vital to consider that we are still in the relatively early stages of IoT, and there are still problems to consider.
1. A Lack of Interoperability
Perhaps the biggest challenge facing IoT right now is the fact that it is still young enough that companies are scrambling to dominate the space. For example, Amazon was an early entrant into the space with their Echo smart speakers but soon decided that further work in the space warranted investment. So they spent $1 billion on Ring for the IoT doorbell market and are heavily invested in smart thermostat company Ecobee.
This is the same Amazon, of course, that took years to decide to sell Apple products in a deal that meant they could finally sell Prime Video titles through their iOS app.
Meanwhile, Apple itself and Google do not want to see Echo speakers in homes. Instead, they would much rather encourage people to use HomePods and Nest speakers, respectively. Moreover, support levels between different brands are mixed at best, which can hold IoT back while everyone else moves forward.
2. Software Issues
There is no shortage of tales of online webcams being hacked and viewed remotely. Many people worry that if a device is connected to the internet, anyone could potentially take control. But, again, the sheer youth of the industry works against it, as nobody yet has a fool proof solution to keep things secure.
Simply put, poor software represents a security issue for consumers as well as businesses. For example, someone could conceivably gain access to an IoT washing machine and put it on at full power all day, resulting in financial losses for the owner. Fortunately, mainstream online security awareness is at an all-time high and growing all the time, so these issues may well subside in the near future.
3. Planned Obsolescence
Even the most prominent brands are still in the experimentation stage when it comes to IoT. For example, Amazon produces revised versions of its smart speakers on a rapid schedule. Of course, the newer versions are always better, but people are not yet accustomed to replacing ‘furniture’ at the same rate as their phones.
Unfortunately for consumers, there may never come a time when a company releases a definitive item for IoT use. So, it may be time to accept that regular upgrades are part of the plan.
4. Privacy Concerns
Using the smart speaker example once more, manufacturers claim that while they are not always paying attention, they are always listening for a wake word. Unfortunately, that means they might record more than they should, leading to issues where attackers can potentially listen in on conversations.
IoT relies on microphones, cameras, and sensors, and there is currently no way of knowing what they are picking up and when. Advancement of the technology will rely, in part, on building trust with consumers and businesses, as track records are not always the best.
5. Scalability Issues
Some people are concerned about whether the world is even ready for IoT from an infrastructure perspective. For example, when everything with a power supply in a home is using the internet, it makes for a massive bandwidth drain – and that’s in countries with fast internet speeds.
The focus on making domestic goods smart is outpacing improvements to connectivity in some parts of the world. It could result in some being left behind or provided with inferior goods to their international counterparts.
6. Workforce Talent
Rounding off our coverage, we have another potential issue that arises from the fact that IoT is a relatively immature concept. In many ways, it is a whole new industry, drawing on skills in programming, technology, security, and more. A typical device requires not only unique hardware but also cloud storage, a mobile app, and unique sensors.
This is far from a mature industry, and people with multiple requisite skills are few and far between. Moreover, with so many companies entering the space, top talent becomes increasingly valuable and more difficult to find.
A Word on Shadow IT
With more and more people working from home, new employee routines emerge and employees are finding new ways to find things that work for them. This is not generally an issue from an employment perspective – many managers are delighted to know that their employees have found a way of working that can replace the office.
However, companies are at risk of what is known as Shadow IT. It sounds ominous, and it can be, but the definition is relatively simple. It is the use of hardware, software, and services in an employed role without permission from the IT department. It can have upsides, such as greater innovation and efficiency. However, it can be quite a headache for anyone focusing on data security and network integrity.
Here are three quick bonus tips to ensure Shadow IT does not become an issue for your brand:
1. Educate Employees on the Dangers of Shadow IT
We have noted in the past how the majority of security issues businesses face come down to human error. Employees are rarely malicious, but they simply do not always know what they are doing. Some might think they are doing the company a favour by finding new ways to work and different opportunities to overcome challenges. However, informing them of the data risks can be enough to get them to stop – especially if you assure them that you will take a closer look at their software or hardware of choice and assess whether it can benefit the business.
2. Directly Eliminate Shadow IT Software from Your Network
IT teams have an astounding amount of control over corporate networks. Assuming the basics are already in place, such as requiring staff to only access internal networks using a VPN, blocking unauthorized software is not difficult. If, for example, your organization keeps collaborative files on OneDrive through Microsoft 365, it is not overly challenging to search for the likes of DropBox and Google Drive, then make them inoperable on corporate networks.
3. Take Steps to Ensure Shared Information
One of the biggest reasons behind Shadow IT is that employees either do not have access to something that can do the job or are actually just unaware that it is already being provided. This commonly shows itself with information storage. As touched on already, you likely have a platform of choice for online document storage. They are necessary because if something happens to an employee, you want to know that someone else can access their documents.
If you have not done so already, arrange shared network folders for all employees and, more importantly, educate them on how to use them and where they should keep their files. If necessary, be specific that no single individual should have exclusive access to any business-critical information. Or contact us to see how we can do for your business and learn more about cybersecurity plan !