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Cybersecurity; no laughing matter

I recently caught the tail end of a TV show called Ultimate Worrier, where host, and comedian, Jon Richardson shares his many worries with other comedians. On this particular week they were looking at ‘technology’ and had invited a cycbersecurity expert on to talk about risks.

To say the panel seemed alarmed was an understatement as the expert proceeded to tell them to assume your phone is listening to you all the time, even when it was switched off. And to cover up webcams, especially nannycams, as you have to assume anyone can be watching what you are seeing in your home. She talked of how smart devices like toasters could be hacked to burn down your house. Or how peoples’ health vulnerabilities could be exploited, for example, by pacemakers being remotely switched off.

All in all, it was quite alarmist and the show’s host remarked that his objective of taking a light-hearted look at technology had seriously backfired on him. He asked if there was any hope for the future and while the expert did not promise much she did say something that resonated with me in our industry; the importance of updating your software.

If you read my blog last month you’ll have seen how printers have become much more than edge of network devices; they’re smarter than you think and can provide useful information in return to help improve operational uptime.

The same can be said of all mobile devices but what I should have added is that the operating systems (OS) on Windows mobile devices are rarely, if ever, updated. Now, you could put that down to a number of reasons, like an OS is not seen as sexy, or the update is not classed as imperative, but neither is an excuse not to treat these devices any differently to any other computing device attached to a network. The security horror stories this could cause could be immense!

In April of this year, Deloitte reported on its findings of a poll* into cyber risk management which revealed that less than 1 in 5 (19.4%) said they were ‘very confident’ on their organisation’s ability to manage cyber risk and information security.

If we look at enterprise rugged handled devices, then Android is fast becoming the OS standard of choice. Even though it was originally built for the consumer world, its features and capabilities are fast appealing to enterprises, except when it comes to the issue of OS security over the lifespan of the mobile computing environment.

OS security is rightly one of the leading device selection criteria for enterprises. But when you consider that most enterprises expect their rugged devices to remain in service for over five years, yet the security support typically offered by Google for Android is only three years then you have a problem.

Retiring devices well before the end of their lifecycle erodes ROI, yet it seemed the only option to maintain security. That was until companies such as Zebra stepped in with solutions like LifeGuard, a solution to keep its Android devices secure throughout their whole lifecycle. So even if your device is kept in service as long as 7 years, it’s covered by the optional fee-based security support extensions.

In its poll, Deloitte claimed 40% of professionals reported that managing increasing amounts of data and connected (IoT) security posed the greatest cybersecurity challenge for their business in the next year. But it’s not just a year that businesses should be looking at. Even if you have developed an incident response plan for someone hacking into your system you can’t let it gather dust, you need to regularly train and test the plan to prepare your team for action if needed.

There’s a balance between scaremongering, like the comedy show Ultimate Worrier did and not underestimating the challenges ahead. There are lots of IoT devices finding their way into our networks so it’s vital to protect and secure those networks connecting them to the internet otherwise the results will be no laughing matter.

Author:- Richard Gilliard

Renovotec is the UK’s fastest growing provider of rugged mobile hardware; as well as delivering end to end managed & consultancy services, wireless networking, enterprise mobility, mobile data capture, printing and hardware rentals solutions. With over 25 years of industry experience, Renovotec supports customers across multiple industry verticals – including warehousing, transport & logistics, manufacturing and field mobility.

For more information call 01924 600480


* Deloitte Dbriefs webcast. ‘Cyber risk: Maturity and ubiquity in the fourth industrial era.’


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