The Internet of Things, also known as IoT, is one of the most pressing issues in modern cybersecurity. While IoT has improved our quality of life, the ecosystem it supports is still vulnerable to cyberattacks. IoT links many devices and facilitates data transfer between them, but the problem resides in leaving them vulnerable to cyberattacks designed to compromise the company’s network and exposing personal information.
This article will thoroughly explain the relationship between IoT and cybersecurity and introduce the most common IoT threats.
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The IoT is a network of several interconnected physical devices, gadgets, software, and technologies that can collect and exchange data for processing devices or triggering specific actions. Everything from a thumb drive to a train is part of the IoT, including enterprise software, smart home devices, care monitoring systems, mobile phones, and driverless vehicles without human intervention.
Why is Cyber Security Important in The IoT?
Global spending on the IoT reached $749 billion in 2020 and is predicted to overtake the trillion-dollar mark in 2023. Businesses across various industries work to develop IoT solutions to increase visibility and improve efficiencies.
Due to the increased number of connected devices, each of which potentially has access to sensitive data, IoT has increased cybersecurity concerns. For example, in October 2016, Dyn, the internet performance management vendor, was the target of a major IoT security attack, the Mirai Botnet attack. As a result, many websites, including major ones like CNN, Netflix, and Twitter, were taken down due to the attack, which compromised the security of numerous IoT devices, such as IP cameras and routers.
Common IoT Cybersecurity Threats
As the number of connected devices grows, so will potential security breaches. Common Internet of Things cybersecurity risks include the following:
Unencrypted Data Storage
Communication between IoT gadgets is typically cloud-based and occurs over a secure network connection. However, due to the lack of encryption and access controls before data enters the IoT ecosystem, the probability for a breach or compromised data increases whenever the data is transferred, received, or stored through various communication channels.
The term “botnet” refers to a network of computers that can be used for various malicious purposes. Cybercriminals use devices connected to the Internet to gain unauthorized access to networks by spreading malware.
Lack of Visibility and Device Management
A company’s ability to detect threats and respond appropriately can be in danger if it cannot keep a closer eye on all the devices it has connected to its network. While IoT devices connect and disconnect from the IoT network regularly, they are rarely monitored, tracked, or managed properly, leaving the underlying networks vulnerable to attacks.
Weak passwords (or using the default password) are a common security risk in the IoT world. All it takes is one compromised password for cybercriminals to gain access to an entire company’s network. Cybercriminals use several methods to steal this data, including botnets, phishing, and MFA Fatigue.
APIs, or application programming interfaces, play a crucial role in the operation of IoT devices by standardizing the exchange of data between programs. However, APIs can lead to API vulnerabilities, which provide cybercriminals with a new way into a company’s IoT devices and, from there, the router, web interface, server, etc.
IoT devices rely heavily on Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems. Unfortunately, cybercriminals use AI to create AI-powered tools that are accessible, scalable, and more efficient in compromising security controls. The new AI-based chat, ChatGPT, is generating much interest worldwide. Cybercriminals can use it to help them write malicious code to deploy it in distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS).
Tips for Improving IoT Cybersecurity
Here are some pro tips to improve IoT cybersecurity:
- Use secure passwords that incorporate upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Users must also change the device’s default password.
- Provide an extra layer of security with multi-factor authentication (MFA).
- Keep systems up-to-date and implement the necessary patches whenever a new patch release is made available to protect against cyber threats like zero-day attacks.
- Implement zero-trust security models, which mandate that all devices and users on a network be authenticated before receiving access to network resources. As a result, it mitigates the complexity of securing widely dispersed computer networks.
- Protect the company’s assets with up-to-date anti-virus software and firewalls.
- Protect the sensitive data transmitted over the communication link using encrypted protocols, such as cloud security measures.
- IoT and ICS (Industrial Control Systems) standards such as NIST IoT Cybersecurity Framework, ISO/IEC 27001, help secure the design, development, and implementation of IoT devices and systems. These standards help companies secure their IoT devices and systems from cyberattacks and ensure their operations' resilience.
The cybersecurity of IoT can be strengthened by using cybersecurity threat intelligence to better respond to incidents, detect threats, communicate with vendors, and educate staff. A powerful cybersecurity threat intelligence is Humanize Salience, an attack surface management tool that helps c-suite executives understand cybersecurity risks by quantifying those risks into easily readable reports.
The number of endpoint devices linked to a network rises as more and more businesses adopt IoT. Although they may not be able to completely prevent Internet of Things (IoT) attacks, they can implement preventative measures to reduce the impact of those attacks to company’s data and systems.