Thanks to the unprecedented evolution of digital technology, today, we have super-intelligent devices in our daily lives that can communicate with each other. Practical and revolutionary, the use of IoT devices is happening everywhere and is helping to make life easier for so many people and businesses.
Still, there are critical IoT vulnerabilities to watch out for in all the use cases. One would be tempted to think that connected objects are secure. Unfortunately, it is quite the opposite: the number of security breaches in these devices has doubled since 2013, and it just means smart devices are particularly prone to hacking.
What Are the Risks Associated with IoT Devices?
Unauthorized Access - Using IoT devices today seems as simple and natural, and just like other digital devices, we give no second thought to security. However, there are various risks associated with using these objects, the first being unauthorized access.
Unauthorized access to information stored or exchanged can compromise the operation of the object itself, with consequences such as loss of confidential data, including business patents, and misappropriation of data that infringes on privacy.
Weak Passwords - IoT devices mostly come with manufacturer-set credentials. Unfortunately, these present passwords are ineffective and can easily be broken. A best practice is to set up new login credentials as soon as you deploy the systems.
Unsecured Network Services - The networking capabilities of IoT devices introduce another area of weakness – network breaches. Without the proper network security controls in place, the devices can be remotely breached, compromising its data.
Faulty Design - The security of connected devices is reflected and determined from the moment the object is manufactured. The notion of security by design comes in handy here. An industry best practice is the integration of security features from the design stage. The manufacturer must then identify all their IoT vulnerabilities in each use case and provide mitigations through features and design.
Insecure Interfaces - IoT solutions can only be robustly secure if their security features cover everything beyond the devices to the other components they interface with. APIs, web apps, and other integration mechanisms are a substantive cause of IoT security weaknesses.
Insecure Update Mechanisms - Frequent updates, including security features, is critical to ensure IoT devices stay safe from being compromised. In the absence of a trusted firmware validation and patch delivery mechanisms, updates may lead to significant security compromises.
Poor Device Management - Device management is a fundamental but commonly underrated aspect of IoT security. In many cases, devices are bought outside the official procurement program and deployed in networks in unmanaged fashions. A best practice is implementing a streamlined device deployment and management system that grants visibility to all connected assets and metrics, like device health.
Insecure Settings - Most IoT devices come with pervasive configurations designed to smooth and speed up deployment. The settings may make it possible for end-users to disable security features, making devices less secure than their original design. The right device management strategy should ensure safe configurations and champion user education on key security concerns.
Improper Data Handling - Even the most secure IoT devices can be exploited if end users fail to encrypt data in their IT environments. Sensitive data can be stolen where it is collected and stored during processing or in transit. Once again, this brings up unauthorized access as a critical concern and underscores the need for robust access controls.
Insufficient Privacy Protections - IoT devices collect and store personal data in the course of usage. This may be compromised if threat actors successfully bypass built-in security features and access controls. Integrated solutions, including mobile APIs and web apps, can also be targeted to steal personal data.
Without a doubt, IoT introduces security vulnerabilities to a business environment. The benefits of these systems cannot be genuinely realized except where there are comprehensive multi-device security strategies and controls.