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Why IoT Needs Advanced Cybersecurity

 

IoT has created a more interconnected world, connecting business and consumer devices alike. IoT has allowed us to turn on a lightbulb using a smartphone app and adjust the thermostat by talking to a smart device. Given the proliferation of inexpensive WiFi, we can connect almost anything to the internet.

IoT devices often make the most of the intersection of mobile computing, big data, embedded systems, cloud computing, low-cost hardware, and other technological advances. All of this is not without risk because anything connected to the internet is susceptible to a cyber attack.

As our world has become more interconnected due to IoT, the need for advanced cybersecurity to protect our devices from bad actors seeking to exploit vulnerabilities has become essential.

Cybersecurity for IoT Devices

Given IoT devices' vulnerability to cyberattacks, businesses must develop an advanced cybersecurity framework to protect their networks and systems from bad actors. Companies can't wait for the market and technology to improve before taking steps to protect their IoT assets from attack.

Until a comprehensive set of best practices is developed for IoT devices, businesses must implement stopgap measures to ensure their IoT networks' security. A few measures companies can take include:

  • Use security services that isolate devices from the internet by acting as a proxy
  • Use a web vulnerability scanner to check for issues
  • Treat all IoT devices as insecure
  • Thoroughly research the device, seller, and software before buying
  • Install latest firmware updates
  • Restrict administrative access to devices
  • Isolate devices from production systems
  • Keep an inventory of all IoT devices
  • Check diagnostic logs

IoT Security Risks

IoT devices are everywhere in our homes and businesses. A few examples include kitchen appliances, thermostats, home security cameras, door locks, light bulbs, and televisions. Since they're connected to the internet, these devices are attractive to hackers and other bad actors.

To mitigate these risks, businesses should conduct a thorough security risk assessment to determine network systems and devices' vulnerabilities.  According to a recent survey by Extreme Networks, IoT devices are highly susceptible to attack, with 70% of businesses suffering IoT attacks globally.

The same survey found that most businesses don't take adequate measures to protect their network. Failing to protect IoT networks from attack is costly for companies. To address vulnerabilities, your business must properly identify the devices that make up its IoT.

Let's take a closer look at the IoT security risks businesses face.

Vulnerabilities

A vulnerability is a weakness in a system or its design that permits an intruder to access unauthorized data, execute commands, or conduct DNS attacks. IoT vulnerabilities are most commonly found in their hardware or software due to design flaws.

Exposure

A mistake or problem in the configuration that lets an attacker gather information is exposure. IoT security is challenging because of devices' exposure to physical attacks. It is often difficult to protect against physical attacks.

IoT devices must often be left unattended in locations attackers can easily access, which increases the probability of an attacker capturing the device, using programming to modify the device, or replacing it with a malicious device the attacker controls.

Threats

A threat is an action that exploits a system's security weakness resulting in a negative impact on the system. Businesses must protect IoT devices against internal (a person with authorized access) and external (bad actors outside the network) threats seeking to damage or sabotage a system.

As IoT devices have become ubiquitous, the security threats businesses face have steadily increased. To maintain the integrity of their systems, companies must implement safeguards to protect against these threats.

Attacks

An attack is a deliberate action taken to harm a system or disrupt normal operations using various tools and techniques to exploit vulnerabilities. Hackers, criminals, or even governments may attack IoT devices.

Bad actors may attack a business by monitoring encrypted traffic to find information, decrypting weakly encrypted traffic to obtain authentication information, using close-in attacks, exploiting insiders, etc.

Roadblocks to IoT Security

Security hasn't kept up with the exponential growth of IoT in businesses and homes. Protecting IoT devices against attacks from bad actors isn't easy. Many obstacles make securing IoT devices challenging.

Inadequate Testing and Updates

Companies creating IoT devices often emphasize innovation and profit to the determinant of implementing robust security protocols. Since smart devices focus on design and ease of use, security features may interfere with their core features or diminish the user experience. Thus, companies often don't prioritize security when manufacturing IoT products.

Most IoT devices get infrequent updates; some don't get any updates. You may purchase a secure IoT device, but if the manufacturer doesn't provide updates, it may become insecure as hackers develop workarounds to the security measures already in place.

Default Passwords

Many IoT devices ship with default passwords and manufacturers often don't warn customers that these passwords should be changed immediately. Default passwords are weak, leaving IoT devices vulnerable to password hacking and brute-force attacks.

Any company using IoT devices with factory default credentials is leaving its business, assets, information, and customers at risk of a brute-force attack.

Malware and Ransomware

As the number of companies using IoT devices increases, the number of bad actors seeking to exploit weaknesses in these devices increases. Traditional ransomware uses encryption to lock users out of devices and platforms. However, there are hybrid strains of malware and ransomware merged to create different types of attacks.

The increase in businesses using IoT devices will lead bad actors to develop new attack methods using malware and ransomware. 

Final Thoughts

IoT has made our lives easier and streamlined many business operations. Unfortunately, IoT security has not kept pace with the growing use of IoT devices. Cybercriminals have noticed the rapid increase in the use of IoT devices, and they are increasingly becoming a target of cyberattacks.

Businesses can't afford to remain idle as bad actors develop new methods to attack IoT devices. Every company should prioritize securing their IoT devices to ensure their networks are protected. Although risk cannot be eliminated, developing a comprehensive, advanced cybersecurity strategy will help keep businesses safe from malicious attacks.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Romy Catauta 

Romy Catauta works in the marketing field and is passionate about writing on web design, business, interior design and psychology.

Published Friday, February 19, 2021 7:39 AM by David Marshall
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