Have you ever figured out that the world you live in today is filled with devices communicating over the internet every second? You get up in the morning, and a device tells you about your tasks and meetings. You schedule the appointments and give instructions to the coffee machine from the same device via the internet while getting ready for the office.
These are all IoT devices. From your grandpa’s smartwatch to your dog collar, everything is obsessed with IoT technology today.
In short, you are encircled by thousands of IoT devices. But have you ever imagined the malfunctioning of these IoT devices? These IoT devices can expose your sensitive information to criminals if they misbehave. Furthermore, your cars and home appliances are also connected to the internet these days. Security breaches in such IoT systems can even cost your life.
Therefore, it is necessary to determine the potential security risks involved in IoT systems. Besides, you should also learn the methods to ensure security in your internet of things devices.
So, as IoT specialists, we discuss IoT security issues and good cybersecurity practices for detecting and opposing these attacks.
Why are IoT systems Prone to Security Risks?
You might be thinking that you use laptops and cell phones daily. These are also connected to the internet, but there is not much threat involved. Isn’t it? If you are thinking so, you are thinking rightly.
The answer is that the main philosophy of IoT devices is to provide maximum functionalities with minimum resources and hardware. These devices usually have very low computation power. In comparison, most advanced security protocols demand a lot of computation power. Therefore, it is difficult for IoT vendors to implement advanced security standards in IoT devices.
Why Does IoT security Matter?
It is often asked to what extent IoT system vulnerabilities affect our daily life. The simplest answer is that a little problem in IoT systems can risk hundreds and thousands of lives in a few seconds. A cyberattack on a plane or the security system of a building can endanger hundreds of people’s lives. Similarly, an attack on your personal information can ruin your privacy.
Risks involved in IoT systems:
By now, you are well aware that IoT solutions have become essential to everyone’s life. And you cannot survive without these smart solutions in 2022. Therefore, the better solution is to understand the security breaches involved in IoT infrastructure and the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the entire infrastructure. This section will discuss the security fears involved in IoT devices.
Most of the security vulnerabilities involved in IoT systems link directly with cyberattacks. It was the 5th most top-rated fear for networked devices security in 2020. The worst part is that these attacks are anticipated to be doubled by 2025. Therefore, everyone must understand different types of cyberattacks on IoT gadgets and how to secure themselves using cybersecurity principles.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS):
What if you enter your home in winter and find your home more chilled than outside? You will be mad at your building manager despite knowing anything. Don’t you? The same happened in Finland in 2016, where a DDoS-based cyber-attack paralyzed the heating system in two buildings.
DDoS attacks are made by disturbing the normal traffic of the network and sending a flood of malicious internet traffic.
DDoS attacks usually take advantage of poor networking protocols used in the system. Moreover, the way you handle your network traffic can also cause DDoS attacks. If a DDoS attack happens, your IoT device usually works slower than normal.
Firmware is simply the software part of the IoT device. The firmware gives instructions to the IoT device to perform different tasks. Hackers can control and manipulate your device functionalities if they somehow change your device firmware.
Many IoT vendors use open-source software to send firmware updates to the devices. Hackers usually exploit these open-source software and send malware updates instead of the original ones. Thus, they control your device via firmware hijacking. If you notice any unusual behavior in your device, there is a probability of firmware hijacking.
Incorrect Access Control:
Most IoT devices give unauthorized access to all the users connected to the same network. So, all the devices connected on the same WiFi are trusted and communicate with each other. Furthermore, these devices mostly come with preset usernames and passwords. Some people don’t even bother to change these preset login credentials. This incorrect access control can cause security threats to IoT systems sometimes.
IoT companies should ensure authorized access to the devices for the safety and security of the system. Furthermore, users must change the pre-defined login credentials to avoid any bad comings in the future.
Man in The Middle:
If your device transfer data to the cloud in plain text or uses a poorly designed encrypted algorithm, the intruders can easily decrypt it and use it to threaten the users. This situation is called Man in the middle (MiTM), where a person gets your critical information before reaching the cloud and cracks it. This data is an asset for hackers, who often use it to threaten users.
You might be wondering why IoT companies don’t use proper encryption of data before sending to the server. Don’t you? The reason is that most of the encryption algorithms used in mobile and OS are very computationally heavy. In comparison, IoT devices are resource constrained. Therefore, IoT devices cannot support these encryption algorithms with limited resources.
Physical Access to Machinery:
Sometimes, technical nerds get physical access to your IoT machinery. They try to decode networking circuits and other related information. In this way, they understand the security loopholes and figure out blind spots to break into the system. These types of security challenges occur very unlikely compared to digital cyber-attacks.
Necessary Steps for Vendors to Ensure IoT Devices Safety:
To ensure IoT security, both users and management should take some essential measures. IoT developers can contribute to their IoT security solutions by taking the simple steps listed below.
- Though IoT devices are resources constrained, manufacturing devices can encrypt data in the cloud or server. Apart from that, choosing a good hosting service integrated with built-in security tools can also boost security to a great extent.
- They should prevent networked devices from starting a Wi-Fi connection first. This model will control IoT devices to connect to unaware or public networks that are more prone to attacks.
- Vendors should also force users to change login credentials periodically.
- Deploying regular updates can greatly reduce the risk of cyberattacks in IoT systems. Therefore, companies should regularly check security flaws and install patches instantly.
- Teaching users about the proper usage of technology can greatly secure IoT devices.
Necessary Steps for Users to Ensure IoT Devices Security:
As we have already discussed, both users and manufacturers should take responsibility for protecting your smart devices from security vulnerabilities. Here, we will see the necessary things every IoT device owner does to ensure their safety.
- Most public networks are insecure and prone to cyberattacks. Therefore, you should try to avoid connection with public and unsafe networks.
- You should have a strong password for your IoT devices. Never use the default login credentials for your IoT gadgets. If you are doing so, we recommend you change your credentials instantly.
- Most IoT devices come with the remote access that is not mostly required. This feature makes the cybersecurity of the system comprisable. Therefore, you should disable the remote access feature in your devices immediately if you are not using it.
- Poor usage is one of the key factors affecting network safety. Therefore, you should thoroughly read the documentation for proper usage of your IoT appliance. You can also ask manufacturers about securely using these appliances.
- You should monitor traffic on your network regularly. Plenty of tools available on the internet can give you a detailed analysis of network traffic. If you observe unusual traffic on your network, there is a probability that someone is attacking your IoT system.
- You should read the terms and conditions thoroughly. We know it is a hectic task, but you will be able to understand the data collection policy and active threats.
- Another wealthy tip is that you should accept firmware updates timely. Sometimes, the vendors send firmware updates with new security patches. However, a few users show laziness and don’t respond timely to updates. It can be pretty harmful to the safety of IoT systems. You should show maturity here and install updates timely to keep yourselves secure.
In the present world, where every electronic appliance, from your refrigerator to your car & home security system, is communicating over the internet, security has become a huge problem for such devices due to a lack of computational power. Therefore, IoT vendors and users need to take a few simple steps listed above to add an extra layer of security to their networked devices.
If you are facing any problem related to your IoT system security, feel free to contact us for any help. We have a great team of IoT experts who have been offering services in the IoT and embedded industry for a couple of years. We are ready to face any IoT challenge to optimize security in your IoT devices.