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Making the Connection Between IoT Security and Brand Trust

New research finds that companies need to invest in stronger cybersecurity to reduce the reputation risk associated with IoT-related data breaches.

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Achieving the necessary visibility of materials and products across the supply chain itself is a difficult task, but ensuring high levels of sustainable performance multiple tiers up the supply chain is an even more daunting challenge. According to a recent study, only 13 percent of manufacturers said they have “complete” visibility into their Tier 2 and beyond.

New research finds connected devices put users and data at risk

Whether your company leverages the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve internal operations or is in the business of developing connected devices, you should make your security strategy a top priority. IoT integration offers numerous benefits to businesses but as more internet-enabled products enter the market, opportunities for hackers to access back-end systems and data have multiplied exponentially.

New research reveals many organizations do not fully understand the risks of implementing connected devices on their corporate networks where they can cause irreversible customer relationship and brand damage.

Security still an afterthought

Endpoint security solution provider Trend Micro surveyed 1,150 IT and security decision-makers worldwide on their IoT security practices and perceptions. The study results call attention to a distinct gap between companies’ investments in IoT capabilities and the security required to protect their users, brands and reputations.

While nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents agree that cyber-security threats have increased over the past 12 months, only a little more than half (53%) think connected devices are a threat to their own organizations—even though enterprises experienced an average of three connected device attacks over the past year.

Fifty-two percent of participating enterprises consider a loss of customer trust to be the primary consequence of an IoT data breach, followed by a monetary loss (49%), theft of personally identifiable information (32%), regulatory fines (31%) and violation of data security regulations (28%). Yet close to half (43%) of IT and security leaders say security is an afterthought in IoT deployment projects.

These statistics confirm the lack of a strong security strategy may be setting companies up for serious brand risks that could result in costly and long-term consequences.

Lost business, lost trust

Data breaches and cyberattacks wreak havoc on business operations. Highly publicized incidents like the Target data breach and Mirai botnet have shown just how easy it is to exploit the vulnerabilities in connected devices and the networks linking them. In extreme cases like these, hackers can enter through a seemingly innocuous device such as a smart thermostat or security camera and quickly cripple enterprise systems, facilities or even infrastructure.

Corporate victims know all too well the high costs of a data breach. Globally, the impact of a data breach on an organization averages $3.86 million, though more serious incidents can cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Much of that cost is attributed to lost business and customer turnover in the wake of an incident. In fact, according to a recent IBM/Harris poll report, 75 percent of U.S. consumers say they will not do business with companies they do not trust to protect their data.

Another recent study by CA Technologies supports this trend, finding that consumer spending online has declined in the last 12 months due to diminishing trust. In that same study, 50 percent of business executives whose companies had a publicly disclosed incident admit it has had a major, long-term impact on business results.

With so much at stake, few companies can afford to expose themselves to a cybersecurity event.

An ounce of prevention

There is no question the Internet of Things promises many benefits for your business. However, there is also much cause for concern. In today’s environment, the best brand protection strategy is prevention. Make security an important part of the design, development and deployment process to ensure your devices and networks are secure from the start. If your internal team is not well equipped to handle complex security issues, consider working with outside experts to make sure you follow the latest security standards and protocols.

Businesses are spending more than $2.5 million on average annually on IoT systems. Making a similar equal investment in security can deliver a significant return in the form of increased revenue and a positive reputation in the marketplace.