The Internet of Things (IoT) is a complex system that is home to an innumerable amount of sensitive data making it an incredibly attractive target for cybercriminals. As hackers develop increasingly sophisticated ways to breach vulnerable systems, the threats continuously evolve against the IoT ecosystem. Here are the main IoT risks that organizations need to secure themselves against.
Botnets are a network of private computers infected with malicious software and controlled as a group without the owners’ knowledge. They are meant to steal data, compromise networks, or send spam. They contain malware that enables attackers to access the IoT device and its connection to break into an organization’s network. Smart bulbs, for example, are commonly hacked into are smart bulbs and smart fridges, that were not manufactured with security in mind.
2. Lack of device visibility
It is common for IoT devices to go unmonitored, managed inadequately or untracked. It becomes increasingly difficult to monitor devices as they connect and disconnect from an IoT network. This lack of visibility into device status can preclude the detection or timely response to potential threats. For sectors as crucial as healthcare, these risks can be life-threatening. IoT defibrillators and pacemakers may be tampered with if they remain unsecured or hardened as hackers can purposefully deplete batteries or administer incorrect pacing and shocks. It is necessary to implement device management systems that properly monitor IoT devices so that all avenues for potential breaches are accounted for.
3. Physical security
Because IoT devices should run with as little to no human intervention as possible, these devices are sometimes installed in remote locations where they may remain for prolonged periods (maybe weeks or months) without anyone physically checking on them. This prolonged isolation leaves them vulnerable to theft or physical tampering. It is as easy as criminals stealing the device or introducing malware via a flash drive, thereby giving access to sensitive information. Hackers can also interfere with the functioning of the IoT device and render any data it collects and relays unreliable.
4. Weak passcodes
Intricate passcodes may prove adequate security for most IoT devices, a weak passcode is enough to provide an open gateway to the network organization. Inconsistency in passcode management throughout the workplace enables hackers to compromise the entire network. In this case, the weakest link takes the form of that one employee who fails to adhere to more advanced and stricter password management policies. Good password hygiene is non-negotiable in ensuring that your organization is in full compliance with standard security practices.
5. Unsecured data storage
The increased utilization of cloud-based communications and data storage also increases the cross-communication between smart devices and the IoT network. However, the increase in data transfer, receipt, and storage through these networks also increases the potential for a breach or compromised data. The main culprit behind this is the lack of encryption and access controls before data is introduced to the IoT ecosystem. Robust network security management tools such as firewalls and network access controls are crucial in ensuring the secure transfer and storage of data.
6. Lack of user awareness & training
Decades of awareness have rendered the average internet user moderately capable of avoiding phishing emails, disregarding questionable file attachments, making a routine of running virus scans on their computers, or creating a formidable password. However, IoT is still relatively new and unfamiliar territory even for many seasoned IT professionals. Although most of the biggest IoT risks are related to manufacturing processes, human agents are far more dangerous drivers or threat agents of IoT security risks. This becomes even more so when users are ignorant of IoT functionality.
7. Loss of privacy & confidentiality
IoT devices can also be used by business competitors and governments apart from hackers to intrude on the privacy of hapless individuals and organizations. Third parties of malicious intent may infiltrate, compromise, and use sensitive private information without the owner’s permission or knowledge. At the most basic level, security cameras can be hacked to reveal their target’s movements and habits. On a grander scale, hackers may capture data from multiple IoT devices and use it for financial extortion or sell it to competitors on the black market.
8. AI-based attacks
Artificial Intelligence (AI) attacks have been around since 2007, but they present increasingly prominent threats in the IoT community. Hackers now can create AI-powered tools that are faster, easier to scale and more efficient than human agents to carry out their attacks. Although the tactics and elements of traditional IoT threats that cyber attackers present seem similar, the magnitude, scale of automation, and the customization of AI-powered attacks render them increasingly difficult to battle.
The benefits and efficiencies of the Internet of Things are undoubtedly numerous. However, with it comes an increase in security and risk challenges that will only increase over time. The complexity of security challenges will increase at the same pace as the diversity of the IoT ecosystem grows. Hardening the security of your organization to mitigate the potential damages of a data breach is paramount. Enable your organization to reap its benefits without compromising your security.