Why security in IoT systems is important, the challenges we face in IoT security and how to make sure your systems are protected.
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The Internet of Things (IoT) already affects much of our lives without us necessarily knowing it. Think of improved health sciences, home devices, building and construction, security and public safety, efficient industrial outputs, and many others. If you are still asking what is the meaning of Internet of Things, we suggest you first ave a look at our article about what is iot.
What iot is normally credited for is an enhanced customer experience, increased efficiency and productivity, and better communication. These are all possible from collecting huge amounts of real-time data collected from thousands of connected devices, which is subsequently analysed to facilitate decision-making.
Nevertheless, the huge amounts of data collected have raised concerns about security in the Internet of Things. Major data breaches in the past years have meant that IoT security issues, secure cloud, and IoT network security are increasingly becoming the main concerns.
As a result, security in the internet of things has increasingly become a priority. The connection of devices to the internet is a necessity within the IoT framework. However, this opens them up to a number of vulnerabilities and security issues.
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What are IoT security and privacy issues?
IoT security refers to the methods of protection used to secure internet-connected or network-based devices. IoT security solutions include a wide range of techniques, strategies and protocols the aim of which is to mitigate IoT vulnerabilities within systems and increase protection.
IoT is an umbrella term for a broad technological ecosystem which comprises technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, cyber security systems, advanced analytics, big data, machine learning and so on.
In theory, anything can be connected to the Internet using IoT technologies, making the IoT spectrum very broad. Since connectivity to the internet is essential, it makes them vulnerable security-wise. While the accessibility and the data generated make IoT devices very valuable, that accessibility grants hackers the opportunity for remote interaction with the devices.
Hacking campaigns like phishing - the fraudulent practice of sending emails claiming to originate from a reputable source to induce individuals to reveal sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card numbers - are particularly effective. IoT securities such as cloud security have to take into account a large number of entry points available, to protect assets.
Nevertheless, various industries are continually expanding their selection of IoT devices in order to become more productive and cost-efficient. Digital innovation, however, has also resulted in an increased dependence on technological devices.
The consequences of any breach hence become amplified, and from a customer’s perspective, any further increased relying on IoT devices after falling victim to an attack becomes increasingly difficult.
What are the biggest IoT security risks and challenges?
In today's technological and digital era security it's of utmost importance and is constantly monitored and on high alert in industry. The increase in demand for smart technology isn't always a 'what you see is what you get' scenario.
Instead, ensuring that proper secure iot measures are taken, all the while keeping functionality for the user as simple as possible, is a far more complex procedure than one may think.
The industry faces several challenges when it comes to developing the security portion of a device within the IoT environment. Devices in all industries can be connected and configured to send data over cellular networks to cloud applications and back-ends.
Not all IoT devices have the computing power to integrate sophisticated firewalls or antivirus software. On the contrary, the basic design of most IoT devices is limited to transmitting a limited amount of data efficiently, and at the least cost. Since many devices are small, they would offer a small layer of security as there aren't enough computing resources necessary to implement high-end security protocols.
It is also important to keep in mind that security in itself is costly to implement from scratch and even the big budget projects are vulnerable to attacks. A 2020 case in which a cybersecurity expert hacked a Tesla Model X car within 90 seconds is well known. If a Tesla can be hacked, imagine other devices.
How has IoT added complexity to cybersecurity management?
IoT devices often have weak security measures, which makes them attractive targets for attackers. The sheer number of these devices also increases the overall attack surface for an organization.
In addition, many IoT devices do not receive regular security updates, which means that vulnerabilities discovered in the devices may not be fixed. This leaves the devices open to attack.
Currently, there is also a lack of standardization in the way IoT devices are built and secured, which makes it difficult to implement consistent security measures across all devices.
It is also important to point out that it can be difficult to monitor the security of IoT devices, as they are often distributed and may not be directly connected to an organization's network.
Many users of IoT devices may not be aware of the potential security risks associated with these devices, which makes it difficult to educate users on how to properly secure them.
Why do I need IoT security?
When mentioning security it is important to mention who is mostly at stake and fall under this category. From home devices to industrial ones, the Internet of Things and its hundred's of thousands of devices connected, is steadily increasing the number of potential targets available for cyber-criminals
IoT hacks can happen in any industry all the way from smart homes up to smart integration in cars. The severity of the impact is dependent mostly on the information that the device entails.
Security of the highest level is therefore seen in applications that result in life treating situations and or critical infrastructure damages such as car devices, traffic control, smart door locks, etc.
Sectors that can be vulnerable to cyber attacks are varied. Hackers can gain access to industrial production systems, effectively taking over control components, or use a laptop to gain access to a smart car, changing it's course of direction. Surveillance cameras are intended to make areas more secure, but the wireless networks used for transferring video signals can be vulnerable to attacks.
Technology matters especially in times of war. Months prior to the war Ukraine accused Russia of conducting cyber attacks, shutting down almost a quarter of its power infrastructure, along with alleged spying. In order parts of the world, imagine the disruptions in city infrastructures and transportation networks if these fell into the wrong hands.
How to improve IoT security.
Security is an issue in everything in life and the internet, including the IoT, is no different. The more security you put in place, the more difficult it is for someone to break into your system.
You can go beyond the current internet security systems and make your device even more secure. An example would be making data encrypted, meaning that even if someone hacks your data, they would still not be able to read it!
Enhanced security also means longer development periods. Having said that, not all devices need additional security and not all activities will warrant additional security services and costs. Any device can be hacked. How difficult that system is made for someone to hack it is a decision that needs to be made after careful consideration, especially in industrial enterprises and businesses.
Many companies offer different methods in the implementation of IoT security most commonly we find a layer of API security where the IoT devices send data directly to a back-end and ensure only authorized personnel. A second implementation is hardware security which is an endpoint hardening approach making devices tamper-proof.
Endpoint security also applies to your everyday devices. This is the cybersecurity approach to defending endpoints – such as desktops, laptops, and mobile devices - from malicious attempts. An endpoint security strategy is important because every remote endpoint can be a potential entry point for an attack.
The number of endpoints has only recently increased with the rapid pandemic-related shift to remote working. Endpoint security is how corporations protect networks against cyber threats, also while employees work remotely.
According to Thomas Pore, director of IT and services at Plixer, phishing and social engineering attacks will be with us for some time to come. “Commercial facilities, need to provide training to users on how to identify phishing attacks or how to avoid being a victim of social engineering,” he said. “Users need to be trained not to click on links in emails. Training should not be a one-time event, but performed regularly, even quarterly.
Overall, the complexity of managing the security of IoT devices comes from a large number of devices, the lack of standardization and security updates, the difficulty in monitoring them, and the lack of user awareness. It is therefore important to keep yourself and your personnel updated and informed on issues and iot security standards.
Here are some quick tips and most importantly remember: security security security!
IoT Security tips! - A recap.
Always keep up to date with all technology;
Patch your systems with the latest updates;
Change default system passwords to strong passwords;
Disable unused features you may not need;
Turn off Bluetooth if you are not using it;
Use two-factor authentication whenever possible;
Choose an expert cybersecurity provider;
If you suspect your device is compromised, contact the manufacturer or service providers immediately!