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Hey everybody, this is Gene Marks and welcome to this week’s Hartford Small Biz Ahead podcast. Thank you so much for joining me. And I’ve got an interesting story and a little bit of a lesson for you this week. It has to do with the casino, which got hacked through its fish tank thermometer. Are your fish tanks secure? Well, let me tell you a little bit more about this. First of all, you wanna make sure, of course you’re securing your laptop and you wanna secure your smartphone. And of course you wanna secure your tablet, but before I forget, you might wanna make sure that you secure your fish tank. Yes. You heard me, your fish tank. That was a lesson learned a few years ago, was back in 2018 by the operators of a North American casino, according to one report. And there were many at the time, a cybersecurity executive named Nicole Egan of a security firm called Darktrace, told this story while addressing a conference on security.
She said that the attackers used a fish tank thermometer at the casino to get a foothold in the network. They then found the high roller database and pulled that back across the network, out the thermostat and up to the cloud. Hold on now. Can this really be possible? Well, it certainly can. And for that, you can blame the internet of things. Maybe you’ve heard of the internet of things, but in case you haven’t, it’s easily explained it’s all about dumb inanimate objects and no, I’m not talking about members of Congress. These are elevators and engines and machinery and trucks and phones and sprinkler systems and inventory. And yes, even fish tank thermometers, these objects are being equipped with sensors and then connected back to networks and databases and communication systems so much so that within the next few years, some analysts are predicting that there will be as many as 31 billion connected devices worldwide.
Now that’s a good thing because the smarter you make these objects, the more information we can glean from them to ward off issues and optimize their use. Rolls-Royce, for example, is using internet of things, connected airplane engines to report back performance data while planes are flying. That’s good. Elevator making ThyssenKrupp is creating smart buildings by connecting their individual elevators to monitoring stations around the world. In order to warn of any potential problems for any of you, who’s been stuck in an elevator. I think you can appreciate the value of that. Connected devices guys, they are tracking the status of delivery, the hydration of golf courses and the optimal flow of water through pumping stations and even the temperature of fish tanks in a casino because no one wants to see dead fish when gambling away their life savings. It’s kind of a buzzkill. All of these connected…
Devices, however, are creating an enormous opportunity for hackers. That’s because many of them aren’t equipped with the kinds of security protections that you normally see in laptop servers, phones and tablets. And unfortunately, many of us aren’t aware of the risks. Tim Irwin, who is vice president, project management and a strategy firm and security firm called Tripwire said in an article that I read, the industrial sector is facing a new set of challenges when it comes to securing a converge internet of things environment. In the past, cybersecurity was focused on IT assets like servers and workstations. But the increased connectivity of systems requires that industrial security professionals expand their understanding of what’s in this environment because you can’t protect what you don’t know. So how do we as business owners address this problem? I mean, I’m not saying our fish tanks are gonna get hacked, but think of all the internet of things, devices all around our office, the only tactic that I have for you is to stay ahead of it.
It’s important to bring an IT expert into your office who can regularly do a complete assessment of your network security. You need to make sure that such an assessment includes evaluating any and every connected device in your office, including your home office. That means building heating, controls, smart speakers, smoke detectors, alarm systems, overhead lighting and even the coffee machine in your break room. Because a lot of these things are internet connected as well. If a hacker can get access to any one of these things and any one of those things are connected to your network, then your network is exposed. Now, of course you don’t wanna forget the fish tank either. That’s my advice for you this week. Remember the internet of things is exploding. You have more and more connected devices around your office, including your home office. Be aware that they can be hacked. They are more vulnerable than your laptops and your servers and your tablets and your phones. You need to make sure that you’re talking to an internet security or an information technology firm to make sure that you’re doing as much security as possible. That has been this week’s episode of Small Biz Ahead, please join me and my friend and cohost Jon Aidukonis for other episodes of Small Biz Ahead, you can find advice and tips and prior podcast episodes at Small Biz Ahead.com or SBA.thehartford.com. My name is Gene Marks. Thanks so much for listening. Take care.
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