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IoT, the internet of threats says Fortinet

IoT, the internet of threats says Fortinet

The proliferation of Internet of Things endpoints, including smart appliances and wearables, is presenting a significant threat to organisations, says Fortinet.

Paul Williams, Country Manager – Southern Africa at Fortinet, said IoT was playing a significant role in overall digital transformation. "Digital transformation is a top-of-mind issue for CXOs in South Africa and around the world. They are concerned about threats from disruptors, but at the same time they are worried about how to protect a potentially complex digital enterprise."

"Digital transformation presents massive opportunities across all sectors, from agriculture and utilities to manufacturing," said Williams. "But legacy systems have to be transformed to enable digital enterprises and IoT, and at the same time to ensure that the growing risks are mitigated."

Williams cited Fortinet's 2016 Q4 Threat Landscape Report, which notes the cost of cybercrime is estimated at over US$3 trillion annually, and growing fast.

The report said a new challenge facing enterprise IT security is that a significant proportion of applications are now cloud based, and a growing number of mobile, wearable and IoT devices are being connected to the network. The research found that while new exploits are proliferating, 86% of firms registered attacks attempting to exploit vulnerabilities that were over a decade old.

"Part of the problem with an IoT device is that it tends to be a 'put it down and forget it' device," Williams said. "People forget that the connected air conditioner, the CCTV or even the pot plant monitoring system could be connected to the network. These devices are typically not controlled, monitored or patched. Yet, any digital system can be vulnerable, and could serve as an access point to the enterprise network."

The issue of security management and IoT has been front-of-mind for the security company.

In September 2016 Perry Hutton, VP of Africa at Fortinet, voiced the concern of industry when he said that while information collected by IoT devices drives efficiency within business competing in a digital economy, the challenges are how to connect and manage so many devices, and how to secure that many devices and traffic.

He also said that because most IoT devices are mobile, they tend to connect to the network via wireless access points.

In December the same year Derek Manky, global security strategist at Fortinet, mentioned IoT as part of several technology innovations that had contributed towards what he called "the expanding attack surface" and related cyber threats.

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