The way the internet is used and different services are accessed have changed drastically with the introduction of the Internet of Things at the industry level. Today, people are extensively using IoT in the form of wearables, at the workplace, as smart home solutions, etc. It has helped to make the life of people more productive and easier.
Unfortunately, using IoT platforms has led to several data privacy and security issues. If you are planning to implement an IoT network at an organizational level, it is important that you have an idea about such challenges.
Every now and then, new IoT devices are launched in the market and they all come with vulnerabilities that are yet to be discovered. One of the crucial reasons for vulnerabilities in IoT devices is the lack of resources and time spent by manufacturers on such devices.
Say, for example, smart fingerprint padlock can be easily accessed using a Bluetooth key that comes with a similar MAC address like the device, or the fitness tracker remains available for pairing even after pairing with a device.
Moreover, there are no proper IoT security standards followed across the globe and this leads to the creation of IoT devices with poor security features by the manufacturers. In short, security does not remain as the prime concern for the manufacturers that are looking for ways to develop IoT devices with an internet connection.
Some of the security risks that you will face in the case of IoT devices are:
One of the prominent challenges faced by IoT devices and edge computing frameworks is that they get expanded quickly and this leads to chances of potential attacks. As per many security experts, even if there is an unsecured device present in the IoT network then it can prove to be the vulnerable point for the attackers who are looking for some entry. The ability to move from one network to another is the other issue seen in the case of IoT security for unsecured devices. Say, for example, the smartphone of the laptop which is connected to the network at the workplace can be connected to a public Wi-Fi network at a café. Having the ability to connect with different network increases the chances of vulnerability for the devices and can even get compromised.
Earlier, the security of computers and mobile phones were the main concern of security professionals. Things have changed today with the expansion of IoT devices. The number of devices is ever-increasing and by 2020, it is expected to reach 20 billion. The bigger the IoT network gets, there will be greater vulnerabilities, and this can be a bigger challenge for the enterprises.
When we talk about different malware in the market, ransomware is the most deadly one. The feature of ransomware is that it does not affect any sensitive files present in the devices rather; it just blocks access to them simply through encryption.
The ransomware attacks in the case of IoT devices are very rare but, it is now turning out to be a prominent challenge. In the future, risks can increase in terms of smart homes, healthcare gadgets, etc. The only good thing here is that all the data from such wearables will be stored over the cloud and so it will not be accessible to unauthorized people. However, hackers will be able to lockdown it and ask for money to unlock it.
Here is an image that shows you how the ransomware attack looks like:
Over the years the number of IoT devices has increased exponentially in the market and this has led to an increase in the number of ransomware and malware that can be used to exploit those devices. As explained above, the traditional ransomware uses encryption to block the device, while the hybrid of malware and ransomware will steal information along with blocking the devices.
IoT devices are multiplying so quickly that organizations are having a hard time to keep a tab of all the devices that come and go within their network. The traditional security system within the organization follows the practice to document every connection and device that gets in. The increasing number of IoT devices makes it difficult to note them down and define the relationships.
You will not face any real threat if only one of the IoT devices gets infected by malware but, if a group of them gets defected then the IoT network will get affected. To carry out a botnet attack the hacker comes with many malware-infected bots and then sends thousands of requests in a second to the target device.
IoT devices are more prone to security attacks as they are vulnerable to malware due to the absence of regular security updates. This means malware can easily infect them and bring down the IoT network in no time.
Encryption is generally considered as a better way of keeping the data protected however, in the case of IoT devices this itself poses as a great security challenge. Compared to traditional computers, these devices lack in terms of processing capabilities and storage space. Therefore, the encryption which is supposed to protect the devices from attack gets hacked by hackers through simple manipulation. So if enterprises cannot find a way to resolve this issue, they will not be able to use encryption as an asset.
When you are looking for ways to secure your IT systems and the network infrastructure, you should plan to implement a zero-trust philosophy for your IoT network. The traditional networking architecture that we have today lets any device to be there without any questions. This is the reason why unauthorized users easily get into a network system by hacking the firewalls.
Now, this is one of the main concerns in the case of IoT devices as such devices are vulnerable, and can prove to be an easy entry point into the IoT systems. You will be able to implement stronger authentication controls by implementing zero-trust philosophy. This philosophy works by believing that anything in the network can be compromised and so there should be a strong verification procedure to process any access request. This prevents any further movement within the IoT network even if it gets compromised. Here the malware or the attacker will not be able to break into the other systems in the IoT network as they are well protected.
Apart from worrying about the issues with the IoT devices, the interconnected legacy systems are another concern you have in here. The increasing number of IoT devices within an enterprise reduces the chances of having legacy technologies. Legacy systems do not come with modern security standards and so if the IoT device gets hacked then the legacy system gets breached too.
It is important to note down the vulnerabilities in the IoT devices. However, things can get worse if the users are not aware of them. One of the main reasons why people prefer to choose IoT devices is the convenience that it offers but, even connecting to a public Wi-Fi network can end up to be a security threat. Chances are that the organization may not be using IoT devices extensively, yet it can be possible that its employees are using the IoT devices by connecting them to devices at home. It can lead to the compromising of the data. So to avoid data breaches it is important to come up with a strong security policy.
Organizations are going through the IoT revolution while there are many who are trying to implement security policies in order to avoid the threats that come with such smart devices. Companies can work towards coming up with a system that is more secure and also reduce the risks associated with unauthorized access and data breaches by identifying the different vulnerabilities associated with IoT systems and educating the employees about the same. They should work towards building best practices for the employees to be followed when using IoT devices.
The majority of the IoT devices come with default passwords that are weak in nature. Due to security reasons, it is always recommended to change the default password and some IT professionals forget to do this basic thing. An IoT device can easily become vulnerable if it has an easy to guess, simple password and this can lead to a brute force attack.
There will be several overlapping software applications and systems in any network involving IoT devices. Each of such systems comes with its set of vulnerabilities and features which can be exploited. When they come in contact with each other, they can create errors that can lead to compromising of data or system downtime. It is possible to come up with regular software updates or patches as every new device that gets added to the IoT network can bring in new vulnerabilities. Then there are IoT devices that make use of software that is open-source and can be easily hacked. So, it is important that such systems should look for as many possible threats as they can and account for it.
For all the enterprise technologies out there phishing remains to be a crucial concern and IoT devices seem to be a better resource for such attacks. Hackers can easily send in some signal to the IoT devices which can later trigger some unpleasant reactions. Even though IoT devices pose to be one of the main concerns in terms of security, it is possible to avoid such issues to a greater level by properly training the employees about different phishing threats.
In order to detect data breaches, enterprises follow different methods which include monitoring user activity, looking for common indicators, and checking other security protocols. Now such threat detection methods seem to be becoming less reliable as the number of IoT devices is increasing in the market and so are the complexities revolving them. This becomes more of a challenge for enterprises that are looking for reliable solutions.
One of the practical ways in which IT professionals confirm that your mobile phones and computers are secure is through software updates. Some of the IoT devices get fewer updates compared to others. Again, enterprises fail to offer major updates to such devices in terms of security. All such things make IoT devices more vulnerable.
In order to avoid IoT security breaches before they could take place, security professionals need to be proactive. However, a robust management system that is capable enough to monitor any wrong activity and offer insights about any kind of potential threat is not available in some enterprises. In the absence of such a security solution, it will not be possible for the enterprise to know about any possible security breaches before it causes damage.
It is important to protect user data for every enterprise and it remains a critical need with more employees making use of IoT devices. If the private data is compromised during a security breach it can impact the business negatively.
Today people tend to make digital payments more and the trend to use IoT devices for the same is increasing too. This increases the risk of such devices getting hacked and people losing their money. In order to avoid such security breaches before they could affect, many enterprises are planning to integrate blockchain or machine learning which can work towards stopping financial frauds. Still, there are many who are still to try out such solutions for their businesses.
The use of IoT in cars is not new information today. Apart from hacking the smart home system, it is possible to hijack your car too if it is connected to an IoT system.
IoT-connected devices are now turning smart cars into reality. However, there is a great security threat attached to them due to the IoT connection. If the hacker is skilled enough, he can easily gain access to your car remotely. This greatly makes you vulnerable to critical crimes or lethal accidents.
We all remember the large-scale botnet attacks that have happened in the past like Mirai or Reaper that took place a few years ago. However, what about small-scale attacks that go undetected?
In the coming years, we may witness increased smaller security breaches slipping under security scrutiny. Instead of making noticeable bigger attacks, hackers will focus on triggering small-scale attacks that will leak a small amount of information rather than targeting to get millions of records at a single shot.
IoT revolution is here and now there is no turning back. However, most of the IoT devices are not well-equipped in terms of cybersecurity protections, the devices become more vulnerable. So as to protect the business from such threats it is important to implement proper security policies. This can only begin by identifying the issues and the risks associated with them.
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