10 May IoT Security – The Top Six Risks
What is IoT security?
IoT Security (Internet of Things Security) means protecting IoT devices or internet-enabled devices that are connected to a wireless network or internet. IoT security is required to safely connect IoT devices and their components and to protect those devices against cyber-attacks.
IoT Security focuses on securing devices, their networks, and the data that they produce. This can include personal computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, smart home appliances, etc.
In broad terms, we can say IoT security is a term that includes the security strategies, processes, policies, and technologies that industries use to protect their IoT devices and machines from today’s sophisticated cyber-attacks.
What are IoT Devices & How are they managed?
IoT devices are products that are connected through a network (Local Network or Internet). Smart TVs, smartwatches, smart appliances, and smart industrial machines -are just a few examples of the thousands of types of IoT devices and machines.
An IoT network is a network of smart devices that connect to each other and share information/data through the internet without any human participation.
Challenges of IoT Security
Today’s cyber-criminals pose a significant threat to the security of IoT devices and their ecosystems. Here are the top six risks faced by IoT device OEMs, operators, and consumers today:
- Lack of Timely Updates and outdated software
Updates are essential to maintain the security of IoT devices. The devices should be updated on a timely basis, immediately after new vulnerabilities are discovered. Smartphones and computers typically receive updates on a monthly basis (or in some cases more frequently), but that is often not the case for IoT devices. Those devices often lack an established process for security updates and patches.IoT device OEMs often do not prioritize cyber-security when designing their products. This leads to the production of devices that are more vulnerable to cyber-attack.This means that a device that was secure when a customer first bought it becomes insecure and easily available for hackers and other security concerns.
- Insecure Passwords
Most IoT devices come with default passwords that can be easily hacked by cyber-criminals. For any type of IoT device, the manufacturer should provide some essential mechanisms such as the expiration of passwords, password complexity, account lock-out, and OTPs while the devices are in use. Users should also be forced to modify the default or current credentials in the set-up of devices. Changing passwords in a timely manner should be a norm for IoT devices.
- Lack of Awareness
In recent years, internet users have learned how to avoid spam or phishing emails, unessential links, and other suspicious activities. They have also learned to perform regular virus scans on their computers and to secure their Wi-Fi networks with strong passwords. Most IoT device users are still not taking these precautions.As we discussed earlier most of the risks on IoT devices still originate from the manufacturing companies but the owners and business processes that use these devices can create bigger threats. The biggest security risk is ignorance of attacks or security threats and a general lack of awareness. As a result, cyber-threats are compounded.
- BotNet Attacks
A Botnet is a malware that hijacks the network of connected devices and allows hackers to carry out their desired scams. A Botnet can grow automatically on a network, automate an attack, and accelerate the attack for maximum impact. These attacks can be created at very little cost to the hacker. Hackers can remotely access targeted devices, allowing them to infect millions of devices in a limited amount of time. The result of a Botnet attack can be a server crash, theft of data, degradation of device performance, etc.An attack on a single IoT device will not create any widespread threat but an attack on hundreds or thousands of devices can have catastrophic consequences on an IoT device ecosystem.
- Untrusted Deployment Locations
Sometimes IoT devices are used in insecure locations for long periods of time, – this makes it easier for a hacker to attack these devices and to go undetected. IoT devices are mostly designed to be deployed in public and remote places where an attacker can obtain the physical access or MAC address of the devices. This MAC access or physical access may allow the hacker to bypass the current security system of the IoT devices.
- Insufficient Data Protection/Lack of Encryption
For most IoT devices the lack of encryption of data is a major security issue. The unavailability of encryption on every transmission is one of the biggest IoT security threats. Many IoT devices do not encrypt the data they transfer, which means that if an attacker enters the connected device’s network, – he/she can steal sensitive information like passwords and other data sent to and from the device.