Keywords: Internet of Things, IoT, Cybersecurity, smart technology, smart devices, small business owners, cyberattacks, hacks, breaches.

What Exactly is the Internet of Things?

Internet of Things

What Exactly is the Internet of Things

The term Internet of Things (IoT) is a concept created by the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) community in 1999. IoT refers to several physical objects sharing and communicating information while interconnected to a network of Internet Protocols (IP). Over time, IoT has become the revolution of the internet, and it has advanced into a network connecting devices of all sorts, not limited to vehicles, appliances, buildings, smartphones, cameras, and industrial systems. All these devices are connected and sharing information according to specified protocols that help in smart positioning, tracing, reorganization, and even makes real-time online upgrades, online monitoring, and process administration and control possible. IoT is basically about creating a smart world, connecting anything, anytime with anyone, anywhere.

Small Businesses; Cybersecurity and IoT

A 2020 quarterly CBNC, Small Business Survey, revealed that a larger percentage (44%) of small business owners would rather spend their resources on technology and invest in materials and devices relating to the Internet of Things. On the other hand, less than half of the above number (20%) opted to invest in cybersecurity software to protect their businesses. Cybersecurity refers to the practice of protecting internet networks, programs, hardware, data, and systems from cyberattacks and digital attacks. These attacks are typically aimed at getting access to user’s sensitive data with the intention to distort the business process and extort money from users.

Cybersecurity and IoT; Single Choice Priority or Hand in Hand

Here lies the question, which of the both (IoT and cybersecurity) should small businesses prioritize in investments? Smart gadgets and appliances with the necessary security measures to make them foolproof? David Kramer, President and CEO of Pennsylvania based Domain Consulting Group and Domain Technology Group, says that both IoT and cybersecurity are not mutually exclusive. Investments in IoT requires a very high level of cybersecurity, provided you do not want to take the risk of your gadgets and networks being compromised or hacked.

Founder of Boston based Emerj Artificial Intelligence Research, Dan Faggella, believes that the choice of investment depends on the strategy that the small businesses have in line for their growth. Irrespective of whatever products or services you’re selling, Fagella agrees that it is best if cybersecurity is made a larger priority than or at least, along with the purchase of fancy gadgets and devices for internet processes. These fancy devices could be easily breached and hacked without the necessary cybersecurity measures being put in place. Investigation reports from the 2019 Verizon Data Breach show small businesses being the recipient of over 43% of all cyber-attacks, and over fifty percent of such breaches are hacks.

Why are Small Businesses Prone to Cyber-attacks and Hacks

Small businesses that lack an effective element of cybersecurity are taking an immense risk every day, and it is only a matter of time before the odds no longer run in their favor. Some small business owners even say “it cannot happen to me; I can’t be hacked, we’re not Facebook or Amazon.” These persons do not grasp the notion of the low – hanging fruit.

A senior IT consultant at Domain Technology Group, Larry Goncea says that “Due to the ignorance of why anyone would want to breach their systems and processes, most small business owners fail to realize that they are a potential target for hackers. They usually think because they do not make so much money as big companies do.”

For the others who are aware of the risks of running businesses without the necessary cybersecurity measure and still do not do it, Goncea says that they are just being negligent and procrastinating the most vital factor to the success of their businesses. “Small businesses are an easy target for hackers, who go gather information and spoof emails, demanding payment while posing as a vendor.” Information gathering isn’t that much of a task; they simply have to get familiar with useful details on their CFO or CEO on LinkedIn. Yes, it is that easy.

David Kramer describes most small businesses distress calls as to when fraudulent means are used to gain access to computer systems that are protected by passwords or user IDs – social engineering.” These fraudulent individuals try to persuade small business owners to transfer money to fraudulent accounts, thus defrauding these businesses of their hard-earned money.

What Chances do Small Businesses Have Against These Hacks?

In the midst of the breaches and high exposure to hacks, small businesses can do a few things with respect to cybersecurity. CEO of Atlanta based Technology services provider – Tech & Main, Shaun St. Hill, says that the initial and most important step for small business owners would be to perform a risk assessment on security levels and measures. “Be aware of what the status of the devices and your network.” “How segmented is the network across connected devices? A separate local area network gives another layer of security from hackers trying to access your systems and network.” Seeking professional help and getting experts to assess information security levels would go a long way in increasing the number of small business owners that would invest in cybersecurity measures from the meager 20% that the CBNC survey showed.

Rajesh Srivistava, a small business owner and founder of California based trading software, PriceSeries, had cybersecurity experience prior to starting his one-person business that rakes at least one million dollars in annual revenue. He ideally believes in using “clean pipe” technologies – available from service providing companies like Zscaler. Skip the basic broadband network connection if you want to reduce the risks. “Use the best and most updated technology available in the cybersecurity market. Pay that little token, and it takes the responsibility of safeguarding your business and network of your hands”. Let the experts do it.

Links and Resources