Hackers can use IoT devices to steal sensitive information, expose company networks, or disrupt critical systems. Fortunately, there are steps companies can take to mitigate these risks.
For instance, they can deploy tamper-evident packaging and ensure IoT devices receive constant security checks, firmware updates, and alerts. They can also incorporate multi-factor authentication into their systems.
Inadequate Data Protection
IoT devices are designed to transmit data to networks but are frequently vulnerable to attacks that can cause security breaches. For example, when smart cars connect to an unsecured network, hackers can access the car’s sensors and remotely hijack their functions, including steering and engine control. This is a huge threat to public safety and could even result in a ransomware attack.
Weak or default passwords, insufficient encryption, and outdated firmware can open the door for external attackers to infiltrate an IoT ecosystem. Once inside, they can enslave a device and turn it into a zombie or use it to launch DDoS attacks or steal information.
For example, suppose an IoT device’s defense mechanisms aren’t strong enough. In that case, hackers can search for the device’s IP address with “Show me all devices” on Shodan and discover its user’s personal information. This can lead to financial fraud, synthetic identity, and other crimes. To mitigate this risk, specialized IoT security solutions are needed to shield these devices from the Internet and provide built-in security features like firewalls, NAT devices, and authentication with additional protections.
Insufficient Authentication Hygiene
IoT devices are often configured to accept default passwords, which can be easily guessed for usability reasons. This leaves IoT devices vulnerable to unauthorized access and data breaches. It’s also possible for IoT devices to become part of botnets or be used as attack vectors in DDoS attacks.
Adding to the risk, some IoT devices are deployed without IT’s or security department’s knowledge or support. This is known as shadow IoT, creating a growing attack surface for organizations. It may also mean IoT devices aren’t designed and manufactured to meet security best practices.
In addition to using strong and complex passwords, it’s important to set up IoT devices to allow for firmware updates. However, the ability to remotely update an IoT device isn’t always available because of limited data transfer capabilities or physical constraints (such as requiring a person to visit the site of a medical device physically). Manufacturers can reduce these risks by including two-factor authentication and biometrics in their IoT devices and forcing password changes upon setup.
Inadequate Network Security
IoT devices can be susceptible to network attacks like backdoor hacking and data spoofing. These threats are not just a problem for home networks but also enterprise and industrial ones. For instance, attackers can create a botnet to attack the system by stealing data or launching DDoS attacks. These devices can also spy on employees, customers, and company operations.
Following some best practices, including changing default login credentials, updating software, turning off unnecessary features, and segmenting the network, is important to avoid these issues. A hardware-based security solution can also help protect your device against these threats.
VPNs and multi-factor authentication can also increase your defenses against these network threats. In addition, ensure that all IoT devices utilize the latest software versions and update their firmware regularly. This can also improve battery life and prevent exposure to potential vulnerabilities or risks. You can also limit their access to the Internet by connecting them to private wireless networks and limiting their communication with other devices.
Unauthorized Access to Data
Many IoT devices connect to the Internet using default usernames and passwords. This makes them susceptible to unauthorized access, which could lead to hacking and data breaches. For instance, the 2016 Mirai botnet attack involved computers searching for IoT devices with 61 common hard-coded default passwords and infecting them with malware. The resulting “zombies” helped launch the largest Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack in history.
Unsecured IoT devices can also broadcast their IP addresses, which allows hackers to locate and exploit them. In addition, these devices may be subject to ransomware attacks that encrypt the user’s files. The hacker will demand a ransom payment to unlock the device in these cases.
Integrating tamper-proofing into IoT devices can mitigate this threat. Another important step is adding remote wiping capabilities that will erase all data on IoT devices when they’re compromised. This can protect PII and prevent private information from being used maliciously. This security feature is especially critical for industrial IoT, where a single compromised node can disrupt the entire business process.
IoT devices continuously transmit information, from a smart thermostat to a security camera. These systems are vulnerable to hackers if they have insufficient cybersecurity measures. This can lead to data breaches, financial losses, and reputational damage.
Whether the device is a smart refrigerator, healthcare tracker, or a vehicle with built-in sensors that alert the driver to low tire pressure, IoT devices have numerous functions that enable businesses to make more informed decisions and operate more efficiently. However, these devices open enterprises to attacks, leading to costly data breaches and even physical harm.
While most IoT devices do not store data locally, many transmit important telemetry information back to an organization or into the cloud without robust encryption protocols. This makes the devices susceptible to eavesdropping, sabotage, and hijacking—for example, replacing a camera feed or stopping it from recording altogether.
IoT ransomware is also a growing threat, and it can wreak havoc on users’ personal lives and corporate operations. This malware encrypts files and demands a ransom to decrypt them, leaving wearable technology, health trackers, smart vehicles, and other IoT devices at risk.