4 ways to stay secure in the age of the Internet of things

From connected cars to wearables, mobile is changing. From internet-enabled fridges ordering your food, to connected cars, and a smart meter in every home, the possibilities opened up by this "Internet of things" (IoT) are endless, changing the traditional concept of a 'mobile' device as we know it. But with the ability to communicate comes the potential risk of a cyber-attack.

This expanding attack surface is likely to cause major headaches for enterprises who are ill-equipped and ill-prepared to deal with the huge influx of access points created by all these devices.

Forrester research categorised 29 per cent of the global workforce as anytime, anywhere information workers - those who use three or more devices, work from multiple locations, and use many apps.

Given this figure is only set to increase over the next few years, enterprises are set to be under yet more pressure. The level of complexity this will add to security is immense and may seem overwhelming to the average enterprise. The workplace and the consumer of IT have become inextricably interlinked and enterprises need to recognise this, in order to prepare for a 'new age' of IoT.

Here are some top tips to help businesses prepare for this 'new age' and stay ahead of the curve:

1. Security through education

It is clear that an educated workforce is crucial when it comes to reducing the risk of a cyber-attack. Clearly defining the policy, and then ensuring employees are following procedure with regards to company data on their devices, to reading permissions before downloading apps – employees need to take responsibility for securing company data.

2. Implement privacy settings and controls

The question of privacy in this 'new age' dominates concerns related to a connected future. Implementing privacy settings where appropriate can help enterprises reduce exposure of confidential data. However, businesses may need to implement further controls to ensure their data is totally safe.

3. A flexible approach to security

As our devices become more closely integrated with our personalised preferences or data, the opportunity for attackers to use this information for their personal gain is highly attractive. A flexible approach to security will ensure enterprises are able to adapt to combat new types of threats.

4. Promote collaboration between business and security

There has been a worrying disconnect between business and security which continues to create a headache for the enterprise.All parts of the business need to be on the same page to successfully implement policies and secure the enterprise. Greater collaboration will increase the chances of success.

The underlying challenge for enterprises is to ensure that their workforce is educated and aware of the risks. If businesses provide the right skills and knowledge, along with a flexible attitude, despite a rapidly changing working environment – they will always be one step ahead.

Raj Samani is CTO of Intel Security (formerly McAfee)