The Internet of Things (IoT) can be used to interconnect various physical devices as well as virtual objects that can be accessed through the internet. IoT is rapidly growing and changing our lives. There has been a massive surge in the use of IoT devices, mainly in the homes and manufacturing sectors. Moreover, IoT has invaded every aspect of our lives. From your water sprinkler to your security system, everything is connected to the Internet. Due to the overwhelming amount of new technologies popping up every day, IoT security often tends to be overlooked which makes the users of these devices vulnerable to security threats.
Understanding the threat
IoT creates a network of physical objects, whose data is stored on the cloud and the devices connect to the surrounding objects and the extensive data around them. Since the data is being passed back and forth on thousands of devices, hackers are just one vulnerability away from exploiting all your personal data stored on the network. Now you may think that your home automation and other IoT devices being compromised is not a major risk as there is negligible personal information stored on any of these devices. But consider this, IoT items usually consist of a camera or microphone and they may be compromised. This will enable hackers to monitor all your movements thus leading to a breach of privacy. Cisco analysts predict that more than 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020. This quantity is far more than the number of people on the planet. Therefore, it only emphasizes the scale of this vulnerability and the urgency to tackle the issue.
Research has shown that nearly 70 per cent of IoT devices have serious vulnerabilities. Protecting organizations and individuals against the increasing risks aren’t going to be easy. We can’t afford to have so many exposed weaknesses waiting to be exploited. Firstly, one needs to be aware of the threats one are facing. OWASP has provided us with the Internet of Things Project where they highlight the top 10 susceptible areas. The project explains the vulnerabilities as well as discusses prevention.
The list is as follows:
- Insecure Web interface
- Insufficient authentication or authorization
- Insecure network services
- Lack of transport encryption
- Privacy concerns
- Insecure cloud interface
- Insecure mobile interface
- Insufficient security configuration
- Poor physical security
Experts have theoretically considered many good security practices. These include the use of secure protocols, using a VPN, using identity management and providing timely latest updates and patches for the gadgets.
- At a workplace, a savvy user may manipulate the ID access process to get into a restricted area to which they don’t have access.
- Other than data breaches of solo users and large organizations, IoT security also includes public infrastructure such as traffic lights and power plants. Malicious users may manipulate these and disrupt the day-to-day lives of the mass population.
- IoT devices collect all the data generated by IoT devices and store it for machine learning algorithms that use the data to create better business solutions and improve quality of life. The volume of this data produced is immense.
- Users of IoT gadgets seem to not pay attention to these threats. This is because they aren’t well aware of the technical aspects and serious nature of these vulnerabilities and attacks or simply because they do not care enough and trust the device brand.
The next few years are crucial for the development of IoT. We need to ensure that manufacturers make use of a security regulatory framework and follow a set guideline of cybersecurity standards required for IoT security. The myth that IoT cybersecurity is a consumer problem has to vanish and organisations need to understand that their applications and data are vulnerable to various kinds of cyberattacks. The goal is to achieve the prevention of all kinds of attacks and not just their detection. That is the worst possible outcome as detection usually implies that the damage has been done and likely has spread.
Even though we are yet to overcome most IoT security challenges, the industry has recognised these weaknesses in the devices. Fortunately, cybersecurity professionals are already adjusting to the new demands of this widespread network.
To learn more about other threats regarding cybersecurity, read our various blogs.