Internet of Things

Joseph Okon Written by Joseph Okon · 2 min read >

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a rapidly expanding field that offers numerous benefits for consumers, corporations especially, the manufacturing, health care and transportation sectors. However, if IoT security issues are not resolved, as more devices get installed, connected networks will be exposed to an increasing number of cyberattacks.

What Is the Internet of Things?

The IoT is a system of interconnected devices, digital or mechanical machines and objects that can transfer data over a network without human interaction. In other words, it is a network of smart devices that connect to each other in order to exchange data via the internet without human intervention.

IoT Security Challenges

The challenges listed below can put IoT device users at risk of a potential data breach.

  • Insufficient physical security

Attackers occasionally make physical changes in IoT devices located in remote locations for extended periods of time. For example, they can infect USB flash drives with malware. Manufacturers of IoT devices must ensure the physical security of devices. However, building secure transmitters and sensors for low-cost IoT can be a challenging task for manufacturers.

  • Data security

Data privacy is a serious security issue in IoT. Numerous devices collect user information, like patient data from medical equipment and private data from smart toys and wearables. For instance, hackers can take over a surveillance camera for spying and then use the video against its owner. Hackers can also collect corporate data and either expose it, sell it or use it to extort the owner.

  • Ransomware

Ransomware attacks encrypt and restrict access to sensitive files. Then, the hacker will demand a ransom payment for the decryption key to unlock the files. Poorly secured IoT devices might also be the target for ransomware.

Cases of ransomware attacks on IoT are currently rare. However, smart homes, health care gadgets and other smart devices might be at risk in the future because of their growing value to their owners and their dependency on these devices as mission-critical systems.

IoT Security Solutions

Any connected device can be vulnerable to cyberattacks. Here are the few tips to prevent potential attacks.

  • Use IoT security analytics

Security analytics can significantly reduce IoT security issues and vulnerabilities. Security analytics help security teams to identify and prevent potential threats by collecting and analyzing data from multiple sources.

Additionally, security analytics can spot malicious anomalies in network traffic by correlating data from different domains. The correlation enables security teams to address these anomalies and stop them from adversely affecting connected devices. Analytics can easily detect sensor security issues like spikes. The combination of all this valuable information can help detect and effectively prevent threats.

  • Authentication

Comprehensive device authentication can decrease the vulnerability of IoT devices because hackers are constantly looking for ways to access personal information. There are various authentication mechanisms available for IoT devices like multifactor authentication, digital certificates and biometrics. It is essential to ensure that unauthorized users cannot access your devices.

Vulnerabilities of IoT applications

IoT applications suffer from various vulnerabilities that put them at risk of being compromised, including:

  • Weak or hardcoded password

Many passwords are easy to guess, publicly available or can’t be changed. Some IT personnel don’t bother changing the default password that shipped with the device or software.

  • Increased privilege threats

Attackers use unsecured IoT apps to modify the access control rules of the application to cause damage. For instance, in an industrial or manufacturing environment, an attacker could force a valve to open all the way that should only open halfway in a production system and cause damage to the system or employees.

How to protect IoT applications

  • Learn the most likely threats

Threat modeling can identify, assess and prioritize the potential IoT app vulnerabilities. A model can provide security activities that will ensure IT admins include IoT apps in overall security strategies. The model should continue to evolve and grow to reflect the state of the IoT app accurately.

  • Understand the risks

Not all risks are the same when it comes to IoT apps and an organization. Prioritize risks in order of concern and act accordingly. Many tech teams neglect to align the risk with business scenarios and outcomes. A failure or breach in one IoT app may seem innocuous to IT but have serious financial implications for the company.

  • Update Apps Regularly

IT admins must deploy updates to IoT apps as quickly as possible to ensure the safety of the entire network. Use only approved and authenticated updates and, if updating apps over the air, use a VPN to encrypt all update data streams.

  • Enable strong authorization

Strong password protection is essential for IoT applications and that includes developing a secure password process for those creating passwords. Change the default passwords on IoT devices and apps and ensure they’re changed regularly.

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