With 64% of businesses already maintaining or using IoT solutions, IoT cybersecurity is getting more and more crucial. In fact, it can be a game changer for many modern companies as an inability to address cybersecurity risks has led over half (53%) of organizations to abandon new business projects – The Kaspersky Global Corporate IT Security Risks Survey unveiled.
Security concerns are not something uncommon and IoT networks face many security vulnerabilities, too. Some IoT security issues and IoT security challenges concern antivirus software, data encryption, cryptographic keys, hardware security, wireless networks, and Internet security, including using an IoT device firewall.
Insecure communications, outdated security measures, and the lack of an integrated risk philosophy or an end-to-end IoT security approach can create a lot of problems and cause many business owners headaches. But the list of known vulnerabilities that may challenge IoT systems is much longer and ever-increasing.
To protect valuable data and prevent security breaches, it’s important to know some in and outs of Internet of Things cybersecurity. In this article, we’ll present several important facts you should know about it.
Table of contents:
IoT cybersecurity & IoT security measures – basic facts
According to Cisco, there are going to be as many as 75 billion connected IoT devices by 2025, and by 2030 – 125 billion. At the same time, the global cybercrime cost is to reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, which stands for the greatest transfer of economic wealth in history, as per Cybersecurity Ventures.
But the high quantity does not necessarily translate into high quality, and IoT device security cannot be taken for granted. Secure IoT devices are desired by end-users but paying attention to security issues is something not all IoT device manufacturers do.
Low margins they get on their products or insufficient understanding of the role of cybersecurity in today's world may be the answer here. What adds up to this unfavorable situation is that many older, obsolete types of IoT devices may still be in use in the market, making attacks easier.
There are many benefits of IoT, including enhancing customer experience, improving efficiency with reduced human labor, cost savings, shortening time-to-market, and getting real-time business insights. Many businesses who want to be ahead of the game decide to take advantage of it, disregarding some of the IoT security requirements.
Safeguarding connected devices and networks within IoT is what IoT security can be boiled down to. Since IoT attacks are something very common and cost a fortune, the right IoT security measures should be introduced by any company leader deciding to switch to the Internet of Things.
Instead, they often choose to proceed with poorly secured IoT devices that rely on legacy systems or outdated security solutions (IoT attacks may exploit the Telnet protocol) which makes them very susceptible to security threats and being compromised by an IoT hacker.
IoT security – 7 things you need to know about it
On top of the information given above, there are seven facts about IoT cybersecurity that definitely are worth knowing:
1. IoT safety risks can hurt everyone
IoT-based services, apps, and devices rely heavily on technology, and failing to take care of security measures properly can pose a huge threat not only to the companies involved but also to end-users. The disturbing examples of how the lack of IoT security can hurt average people include spying with video baby monitors and interrupting the proper functioning of life-saving equipment at hospitals.
The horrifying real-life example that made the headlines several years ago were security incidents connected with the use of Amazon’s Ring smart cameras. They were hacked by cybercriminals who managed to take them over and access live feeds from Ring home monitoring systems. What people affected by this security breach reported was verbal harassment, including racial slurs as well as sexual assault threats and murder threats they experienced via the integrated microphones and speakers at their homes.
2. A huge number of IoT cybersecurity threats
The number of IoT cybersecurity attack types, Internet of Things security challenges, or simply IoT threats is ever-increasing.
Some of them include:
- Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack (or Distributed Network Attack) – a malicious attempt to disrupt online services and make them unavailable to users, usually by overloading the system with supernumerary requests with the use of resources from multiple locations;
- Unauthorized access – unwanted access to a network, customer data, API, or backed system through an IoT device or gadget;
- Data interception and theft – intercepting confidential data during transmission by unauthorized users;
- Insider threats – of attacks by “smart insiders” that have access to an organization’s resources;
- Malware exploits, including VPN filters malware, brickers, spam bots, crypto mining bots, and IoT botnets, mainly Gafgyt and Mirai;
- Ransomware attacks that infiltrate organizations, mainly via email, to disrupt their operations (encrypting files to prevent access to them until the ransom is paid);
- Phishing attacks – meant for gathering sensitive (banking, financial) information, including passwords, usually via phishing emails;
- Brute force attacks or password attacks – accessing IoT devices by using thousands of password guesses of account credentials (with well-known, default passwords);
- Unauthorized access to physical property, including physical devices and hardware components access;
- Corporate Account Takeover (CAT) – identity and login credentials theft from premium business customers;
- Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks – eavesdropping crimes where attackers intercept communication (or data transfer) between two parties to hijack personal information, login credentials, etc.;
- SQL injection (or SQLI) attacks – adding malicious code to steal information from data-driven applications;
- Cryptojacking – secretly hijacking computer power to generate (mine) cryptocurrencies;
- Radiofrequency jamming – deliberately disrupting the reception or transmission of radio signals, also used in wireless data networks;
- Privilege escalation attacks – gaining unauthorized, progressively increased, access to computer systems and privileges of user accounts.
3. The main sources of attacks on IoT devices
The main source of IoT attacks was the infected network routers, and connected cameras came second (Symantec data for 2018). IoT cybercriminals treat routers and cameras as easy-to-reach access points into the network – gateways for other, more advanced attacks. Consumer IoT devices are often vulnerable and not protected enough from letting attackers infiltrate the network.
4. Data theft – the center of IoT cybercrime
Gathering rich data is one of the main benefits of using IoT, and IoT devices and their sensors take part in collecting, tracking, sharing, monitoring, and analyzing a huge amount of data. That way, companies standing behind them can adapt to the customer needs better, create more competitive products, and earn more money.
But data theft, including personal and financial information as well as identity or customer data takeover, is certainly at the very center of IoT cybercrime. By obtaining stolen data, cybercriminals may access various accounts and emails, create counterfeit cards, and transfer funds or use services they are not eligible for, but also steal intellectual property, brands, etc.
5. IoT attacks – an all-encompassing threat
IoT security breaches can affect many areas of life – on an individual, business, or state level – making harm to industrial plant machinery, healthcare services operations (with hospitals being „deeply vulnerable” to attacks), as well as energy, transportation, and education sectors.
IoT hackers may shut down particular plants, damage equipment, or cause manufacturing defects with far-reaching consequences. Potentially, even whole cities – as well as private „smart” homes – may be taken over by cybercriminals.
6. IoT device breaches – victims and attackers
As much as 98% of IoT attack victims represent industries such as technology, manufacturing, retail & wholesale, as well as healthcare, and most attacks originate in China, the US, and India, according to the Zscaler 2021 Report.
7. Proper IoT security measures
Proper security measures in the case of IoT-connected devices include:
- strengthening policies and procedures used in the IoT systems, e.g. by applying encrypted protocols, constant network and devices monitoring, and network segmentation;
- building a multi-layered defense based on collaboration between various stakeholders;
- protecting data, devices, and connections between devices and the cloud;
- creating global uniform risk standards governing the IoT ecosystem (on the way);
- using the right protocols (depending on the system architecture layer) and encrypted channels;
- getting rid of legacy systems or devices as they may not be efficient enough to enable risk assessment and critical decision-making;
- using multi-factor authentication that may include passwords, PINs, tokens, biometric identifiers (e.g. voice recognition, iris scans, fingerprints), and answers to secret questions;
- setting up a firewall for IoT devices as it can block a potentially threatening network traffic;
- making sure to use the secured Wi-Fi network by encrypting it and changing the router’s preset passwords (as well as using VPN, HTTPS, and antiviruses, and turning off sharing on public Wi-Fi networks);
- using password managers (e.g. biometric authentication, or PIN code) for secure devices;
- keeping your software updated for the latest security improvements;
- choosing unique usernames and strong passwords (hard to guess, distinctive, that can be generated automatically by cybersecurity solutions for stronger protection) and changing default passwords regularly, with a different password for every device.
Codete Cybersecurity eBook – IoT and more
Ever-increasing IoT security threats are a fact and raising awareness about cybersecurity and cybercrime is vital in these difficult times we are living in. If you want to keep your company safe in cyberspace, have a look at the „State of Cybersecurity 2022” ebook by Codete (download now).
It provides a thorough, in-depth analysis and some useful, practical suggestions for protecting any business in cyberspace.
By reading it, you’ll find out about:
- the extent of cybercrime in 2022;
- frequency of attacks per region;
- the most high-priced hacker attacks worldwide;
- what the most common cybersecurity threats are (e.g. ransomware, DDoS, social engineering tactics – phishing, smishing, business email compromise, etc.);
- why your organization needs penetration testing;
- what the role of the human factor is and why people are the weakest link in any security system.
And, most of all, you’ll find out if your company is at risk and you’ll get our cybersec experts’ tips on how to protect it against various types of cybersecurity threats and cybercrime.
You’ll also learn how to improve your organization’s architecture and protocols, train your employees, and increase your Wi-Fi security.
Interested in IoT network security? You may find many useful pieces of information in our other insightful blog posts – on cybersecurity best practices, cloud security vulnerabilities, as well as the general cloud security overview.
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