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Internet of Things security: Prevention and management tips for CPG

Consumer Products Writer

It's easier than ever for consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands to collect data from consumers through mobile applications and new Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Modern audiences are also more comfortable digitally sharing personal information in exchange for product samples, great content or special offers. The value proposition of this dynamic is strong for both brands and consumers, but so are the vulnerabilities.

This increasingly connected ecosystem has created concerns, especially when it comes to Internet of Things security. Why? According to a recent study by the Ponemon Institute, the cost of a data breach has increased 23 percent over the past two years. Companies both large and small are being targeted by cyberattacks, and many customers are concerned about how brands are storing their personal information.

If CPG brands want to continue benefiting from big data and analytics, it's essential that they do everything possible to protect the vast amounts of consumer data they collect, while consistently reinforcing their Internet of Things security capabilities. The following are a few steps that brands can take to secure big data and reassure customers that their information is safe from digital attacks.

https://kapost-files-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/direct/1453996595-36-3683/IoT-blog.jpgIncrease transparency

As Federal Trade Commission chairwoman Edith Ramirez explained in a report for the Consumer Electronics Show, IoT devices have the potential to "improve global health, modernize city infrastructures and spark economic growth." But, she continues, they also create a number of security vulnerabilities. One of the biggest IoT security risks results from the data-collection process: More devices connected to the Internet translates into more entry points for intruders to use in an exploit or attack. Further increasing this risk is the fact that some connected devices are low-cost and disposable, and their manufacturers may not be concerned with deploying software updates or patches.

For this reason, Ramirez encourages companies to give consumers clear notice and choices about the collection and use of their data. CPG leaders should be transparent about their data privacy policies and management practices so that consumers can make informed decisions about data sharing and self-direct protective measures.

Make security seamless

Security may be top-of-mind for CPG companies, but consumers have more pressing things to worry about each day. Consumers don't want to spend their time evaluating the security risks associated with each of their Internet-connected devices. CPG brands should aim to eliminate this consumer woe by making their security seamless and promoting it as a core part of their user experience.

The most efficient path forward? Data collection and management systems that continuously detect threats. Depending on the volume of a company's data collection efforts, the scale of threat detection has the potential to be massive: Some companies are blocking tens of billions of threats per day, which means that the IT department of a CPG company is going to have an increasingly important role.

Invest in education

As a recent article in TechCrunch explains, the IoT is generating an increased "attack surface" for connected devices. This trend is going to increase the amount of risk associated with network-enabled devices, and it's simply impossible for companies to anticipate every possible scenario. As such, the best way to outsmart this uncertainty is to prepare for the unknown as much as possible and be ready and able to react and respond should a breach occur.

With proper education, IT teams can get a head start on development. As TechCrunch points out, some companies are launching security labs for early detection of risks. In this way, security receives consideration at the ground level. Employees receive education, and companies invest in awareness.

Many CPG leaders are moving into the world of big data, thanks to the spread of the IoT. Venturing into already-charted territory, these brands have a competitive advantage: They know the importance of implementing security at the ground level, rather than waiting until after a data breach happens. Don't overlook this key pillar in a connected ecosystem, as it is a crucial part of maintaining customer trust in the digital age.

Devise a strong security strategy. Visit IBM's Consumer Products industry solutions page to learn more.