“If you think that the internet has changed your life, think again. The IoT is about to change it all over again”, a few very wise words by Brendan O’Brien, who is the Chief Architect & Co-Founder of Aria Systems.
Statisticians suggest that within the first half of the new decade, the number of interconnected devices is expected to reach upwards of 30 billion. Additionally, the total valuation of the IoT market is predicted to surpass the $1 trillion mark.
This seemingly unstoppable growth trajectory of IoT technology poses a big question concerning the vulnerabilities, threats, and issues within the IoT ecosystem.
In this blog, we will debrief you on the 7 most concerning issues in IoT security and also give you a few tips for you to implement and help increase the security of your IoT gadgets.
Consequences of failure to address IoT security issues:
IoT devices are subject to severe threats, which is a direct consequence of most interconnected products implementing almost no measure of security from common threats.
A study by Hewlett Packard revealed that over 70% of IoT devices contained severe vulnerabilities. The vulnerabilities include a lack of basic security measures such as password security, encryption, and access permissions.
A variety of incidents including the most commonly used gadgets such as Smart TVs, Fax Machines, Home systems, Security Camera, Smartphone mics, Printers, Speakers, and even a Coffee Machine have left people being targeted to data breaches, being caused physical harm, disclosure of sensitive information like passwords, addresses, and even in some cases, personal images.
You can check out a more detailed description of an actual instance of each of these attacks here.
The 7 major IoT Security Issues:
1. Lack of Manufacturers’ Compliance
Several IoT devices have lacked the implementation of basic security measures, and this snowballs into a larger issue being created.
A lot of the IoT gadgets which are being manufactured don’t undergo a security assessment to uncover potential vulnerabilities.
Some of the significant issues which arise due to this fault in the pre-emptive stage are privacy concerns, lack of data transfer encryption, and inadequate measure for user authentication.
2. Hardware issues:
Devices that are usually operated remotely or which are subject to frequent isolation with use are also extremely vulnerable.
Case in point, a CCTV camera, which is located within the vicinity of the organization in isolation, if compromised by a hacker, can further be exploited to compromise other cameras in the same network.
The users, as well as the manufacturers, are equally responsible for strengthening the physical security of the devices. A few measures include installing tamper detection sensors and transmitters into the device or storing/installing them in relatively inaccessible/secure locations. This will help you disclose and send alerts in case of tamper detection and network intrusion.
One should implement Secure Boot and must avoid storing unencrypted sensitive data in external memory. Although the attacker might still be able to bypass the secure boot, it would still have better security performance compared to having not implemented it.
A few better hardware measures could be physically hardening the device to restrict the access to hardware attack surfaces like debug ports,
3. The Botnet Threat:
A botnet attack is executed by infecting several inter-connected devices with malware to gain unauthorized control over them. These lead to severe consequences such as Distributed Denial of Service, confidential data theft, and credential leaks.
One of the major IoT security issues has been the failure to address this issue, especially in cases of mass implementation of interconnected devices.
This poses a significant threat to home systems, IP cameras, factories, transportation systems, and electrical grids as this malware can instantly turn them into “infected zombies” to be used as weapons.
Such IoT devices need frequent security and software updates to be able to fend off such threats, but that in itself poses a usually unforeseen peril.
4. Improper update mechanisms and testing inefficiency:
Product developers struggle with inefficient testing and lack of regular update mechanisms in place.
These restrict them from plugging in the holes as soon as the issues are discovered and leave the devices which are in use still vulnerable.
As product development becomes more and more rapid, the security testing phase is often overlooked or given a lesser amount of attention.
The previously mentioned peril of the automatic updates is the prolonged downtime; if the connection being used isn’t encrypted, the firmware update files may be intercepted by hackers leading to the possibility of data theft.
If IoT device firmware supports upgradation with over-the-air (OTA) updates, in addition to normal encryption, must implement further signature authentication.
5. Unprotected web and cloud interfaces:
It is estimated that over 65% of devices with cloud compatible components have an underlying vulnerability due to lack of transport encryption.
This leaves them vulnerable to some of the most common threats, such as MiTM attacks, persistent XSS, data leaks, and credential hacking.
IoT devices frequently stored disposable data and cache. Due to non-existent laws on privacy and compliance, this information, if fallen into the wrong hands, can, in turn, be used to target customers.
There is an urgent need to privatize, secure, and anonymize the customer’s sensitive data to prevent it from malicious use.
6. Cryptojacking and Ransomware:
Even though Blockchain on its own is relatively safe, the main concern of its associated vulnerabilities lies in the applications developing around it.
For example, in 2018, a prominent cryptocurrency named Monero was one of the initial cryptos subjected to mass mining due to crypto mining botnets. With currently over 90% of its cryptocurrency being mined, the botnet targeted Windows servers to mine Monero, and the hackers were able to reap over $3.5 million worth of cryptocurrency.
This gave rise to even more advanced botnet attacks, which now use IoT devices to be earmarked.
Ransomware has also grown in prominence within IoT devices as they’ve become increasingly easy to target due to the lack of security and the simultaneous rise of social engineering attacks.
IoT issues lie within wearable technology, smart vehicles, and smart homes, which aren’t being addressed to leading to
its users being targeted by such Ransomware attacks, costing the victims millions.
Securing your log-in credentials and availing a VPN service can go a long way to avoid being targeted for such IoT-oriented financial crimes.
7. Counterfeit IoT Devices:
Seemingly secure networks can easily be accessed with the help of rogue devices without requiring any authentication.
For instance, the IoT device can be used as a rogue access point in a home invasion attack or expropriate incoming communications.
Such devices aid the hackers in disintegrating the network perimeter, which in turn allows them to alter confidential data.
Organizations need to be fully aware of all traffic and communications occurring within their network to act upon any suspicious web traffic or activity. Further fortification can be done using a PKI system to restrict counterfeiters.
In several instances, the product developers and manufacturers have been at fault for issues that have arisen and have overlooked several security objectives that need to be met by them.
Fortunately, we have just the blog you need as one of our co-founders, Aseem Jakhar, goes over ten security objectives you need to consider while developing an IoT/IIoT product.
Along with the underlying issues, Payatu has also formulated its own list of vulnerabilities that an IoT product developer needs to be aware of. Feel free to check out the full list here.
IoT has a plethora of security issues. One of the first steps your organization needs to take is to secure themselves on all possible fronts. Therefore, Payatu brings you its world-class IoT Security Assessment services to help you fortify and safeguard your IoT product and organization from various threats.
Payatu provides research-enabled customed cybersecurity services and training. Through our innovative and extensive security assessments, you can be sure that any and all security threats that may be looming around your applications and systems will be eliminated.
Our growth has solely been through referrals and word of mouth, so if you are reading this, you know you’ve been brought to an entrusted organization that thrives on its testimony of credibility and trust.