In the municipality of Malmö, Sweden, a digital display shows train timetables. At least it mostly does. The IT team in Malmö took a few security shortcuts and used an insecure internet connection with their IoT connection for the display board. They didn’t think through the IoT problems or consequences of what could happen because of those shortcuts. 

Soon, hackers found their way into the system and displayed explicit content instead of train timetables. The hack led to a PR disaster for Malmö, and the municipality found itself in worldwide news for something it never wanted to be known for. 

These problems with IoT implementation can lead to PR disasters and poor customer experience. In this article, we’ll discuss the most common Internet of Things problems and how to avoid them. 

Security

At the heart of IoT lies a global, digital exchange of information. Without this information exchange, IoT couldn’t serve its purpose. However, it does pose security threats that require thorough protection. Anything that connects to the internet or relies on connectivity—from train displays to phones to smart thermostats— can be hacked. 

Unfortunately, these attacks are often hard to detect on IoT devices. Most hackers are experts who know how to enter a network slowly and steadily enough to go undetected while valuable information and secure data is taken. If hackers infiltrate the Cloud, it can be extremely difficult to detect the breach until data has already been collected by the attackers. 

Here are precautions you can take to reduce the risk of security breaches in your IoT network:

Keep software and devices updated regularly. 
It’s easy for attackers to infiltrate a system through network vulnerabilities, but most software and applications include updates to patch these vulnerabilities. If you regularly update devices and software, you can keep up-to-date on patches. 

Perform risk assessments.
Risk assessments for IoT will scan the network, Cloud and devices for potential vulnerabilities or holes that attackers could infiltrate. While risk assessments aren’t infallible, they can provide a base of security protection and seriously reduce the risk to an IoT network. 

Consumer Privacy

Security and privacy can be mistaken for the same matter. However, security is what protects a network from hackers, but privacy is what protects user information from third parties or internet surveillance. Customers’ information can be found and misused with IoT. Modern users are more aware of privacy risks and value their privacy more than in the past. The success of your IoT solution depends on your company’s ability to guarantee privacy of user information. 

We recommend these steps to reduce privacy risks: 

Ensure strong password protection. 

Avoid using the same password for multiple systems. 

Set internal password requirements, such as password length, special character inclusion, capitalization, etc. 

Consider using a password manager to create quality passwords

Encrypt data.
You’ll want to ensure that data is encrypted both in transit and storage. 

Poor Connectivity or a Loss of Connectivity

If a business loses connectivity, it can affect productivity and lead to a loss in profits. Even just poor connectivity can affect business transactions and productivity. 

To avoid connectivity issues:

Choose the right IoT connectivity provider.
Your provider should have partners with multiple connectivity companies to ensure that your location is covered, especially if your IoT solution requires coverage in multiple locations or over a large area. 

LTE failover is also vital to IoT uptime.
Should your primary connection fail, the failover solution will then kick in and keep business running as usual without losing productivity, profits or other consequences. Organizations will want to pay attention to the amount of anticipated downtime to right size the correct failover solution. Some providers have limits or different overage schemes that can greatly affect the cost of a failover solution. But an organization shouldn’t skip on the coverage they need in favor of costs. The key is finding a balance between coverage needs and cost. 

Keeping Up-to-Date on IoT

It can be difficult to stay updated on an industry with continuous new developments and advances in technology. Falling behind on these developments can compromise your solution’s security and competitive edge. Keeping up-to-date on IoT will also help organizations stay on top of problems with IoT and find solutions for those potential pitfalls. 

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Hold internal company training on IoT.
These training sessions can help employees understand how IoT works and to be prepared for issues in security, privacy and connectivity. Training can help these employees stay on top of IoT and keep the organization running smoothly. While training won’t completely reduce any issues with understanding, it can reduce misunderstandings about IoT. 

Overall, there are many ways to overcome potential IoT pitfalls. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a bulletproof solution for IoT risks and complications. But following these guidelines can help reduce the risk and put the right plans into action to prevent whatever possible. By taking precautions and being aware, organizations won’t take shortcuts in security or privacy and end up with an incident like Malmö. The right IoT solution will be prepared for these risks and be ready to avoid as many problems as possible.