Internet of Things: The Next Level of Security

The Internet of Things is just truly kicking off in terms of use cases and abilities. Companies must understand the importance of cybersecurity practices when it comes to dealing with IoT devices.
September 21, 2022
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How Is the Internet of Things (IoT) Affecting Security?

The IoT continues to evolve rapidly, making it hard for IoT network security development to keep up. This poses a serious number of threats considering that IoT systems have a huge presence in everyone’s lives already. IoT devices have the ability to connect to the internet, collect the environment’s data, and transfer it to a network. Smartphones, smartwatches, fitness trackers, and gaming consoles are only a few examples of commonly used IoT gadgets.

As IoT network security protocols are not always up to par with current threats, hackers can sometimes infiltrate and attack the networks connecting different IoT devices. This draws attention to the vulnerabilities of IoT network security and the need to take it to the next level.

IoT affects security in many ways, depending on the type of devices used. For example, hacking a simple fitness tracker can provide considerable personal information, from account access to PIN numbers or ATM codes, as fitness trackers are constantly recording the motions of the hands.

Other serious security breaches include hacking smart security locks and allowing anyone to enter the home, accessing connected cars and disabling the breaks, or even gaining control over medical devices, like insulin pumps, and disrupting the administration of medicine.

IoT network security breaches pose a serious threat. Not only are they used as a way to gather personal information about users, but they can also have dire physical consequences if not managed properly.

The Most Important Security Problems with IoT Devices

There are many ways in which IoT devices connect with networks and to each other. All of these devices have their vulnerabilities, which pose opportunities for hackers to intercept and infiltrate them. Below are some of the most important IoT network cybersecurity problems:

  • Remote Accessibility – Having different IoT devices connected through internet networks or Bluetooth is a great advantage. However, it also gives hackers the opportunity to access and interact with them remotely.
    A large network of devices has a significant number of possible entry points that a hacker can exploit. Phishing campaigns are one of the most common tactics hackers use to get access to IoT devices through malware software or redirection to malicious websites.
  • Lack of Computing Power – Some IoT devices don’t have the necessary computing power to carry powerful firewalls or antivirus/malware software. Some of them barely connect to other devices. These devices in particular pose a great threat to IoT network security because there’s no way to protect them from cyberattacks.
  • Industry Negligence – With the globalization of tech, industries began to transform their businesses digitally. They rely on the use of IoT devices to increase productivity and efficiency, at the cost of becoming dependent on technology.
    The problem is that most industries fail to prepare for when things go wrong with all this new technology. There’s a lack of industry foresight regarding potential hacker attacks and data breaches.
  • Virus-Like Propagation – Several cyberattack strategies include using compromised systems as a source to infect other connected devices. These IoT devices are commonly used in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. DDoS attacks occur when a hacker floods a specific target with internet traffic to disrupt its regular traffic. During these attacks, hackers reach higher effectiveness by compromising the surrounding devices and using them to propagate the malicious strike.

The Baby Monitor Security Vulnerability Case

A truly shocking story regarding IoT network security breaches includes the exploitation of the vulnerability of baby monitors. In this particular situation, parents woke up to the realization that someone had hacked into their baby monitor and was communicating with the child through it while the parents were asleep. 

The field of parenting is currently at the forefront of IoT device innovation. Some of the things new parents commonly find on the market include baby monitors, health apps, pacifiers connected to mobile apps that track the baby’s body temperature, and even clothing articles that monitor body temperature, sleeping positions, and other patterns.

New IoT devices that connect to the network and other devices open the door to the possibility of cyberattacks that will exploit the personal information of children. From gaining access to addresses to streaming live feeds from monitoring cameras, the possibilities are endless.

The question of how to protect IoT systems and devices to keep such attacks from ever happening again then comes into play.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to address the issues surrounding IoT network security. IoT industries must constantly develop different strategies and specific tools to secure their devices and networks. However, users can also adopt a few measures to reduce their risks.

  • Regularly check for updates and patches. – Unpatched devices pose big security threats even though they may remain functional, and the users might not even be aware that their devices aren’t protected. A way to avoid this is by regularly checking for updates and patches, reducing the devices’ vulnerabilities.
  • Use strong and unique passwords. – Weak passwords are the first step into major cyberattacks. Using strong passwords that are different for each device and keeping them safe is an easy way to prevent these attacks and protect all existing accounts.
  • Secure the Wi-Fi connection. – Many people consider public Wi-Fi connectivity dangerous because anyone and everyone has easy access to it. The same can happen with personal Wi-Fi access points if the owners don’t prioritize their security. They can do so by using strong Wi-Fi passwords and enabling the router firewall, for example.
  • Use different networks for IoT devices. – Creating an independent network for IoT devices only can help minimize IoT-related cyberattacks. It is also a way to prevent the spread of attacks to other available devices.
  • Control the use of GPS. – Many IoT devices rely heavily on GPS. The hacking of these devices poses a huge physical threat to users. To minimize the risk, they should opt for limiting the use of such apps and controlling their GPS access capabilities.
  • Consider the IoT protocols used. – IoT devices can use more than an internet connection to communicate with other devices. They can also connect via Bluetooth, near-field communication (NFC), and other networking protocols. Users should be aware of the different types of protocols used by their devices in order to prepare for potential security breaches.
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