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The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most flexible technologies existing in today’s world. Various factors have made the IoT scalable and adaptable, which include the ubiquity of the internet, the growing capacity of network connections, and the diversity of connected devices. The Internet of Things is useful in almost all industries, specifically through its extension into food production, manufacturing, finance, healthcare, energy, and many more. Not only this, but IoT has also played an important role in the realization of smart homes, buildings, and even cities.
On the other hand, the growing reality of the Internet of Things also increases its possible consequences. For instance, in an organizational setting, the Internet of Things is often seen in the areas of office automation (OA) and operational technology (OT). This translates to multiple IoT and IIoT devices deployed within an organization. Such a setup increases the possibility of threats in spaces that have never posed cybersecurity risks before. Internet of Things devices in these common spaces can have an effect on critical systems, like the intranet and database servers, through the IoT systems’ data collection and monitoring capabilities.
What are the threats to the IoT? What are the ways to secure it? This blog has the answers to your questions.
Let’s dig in!
Attack surface areas of the IoT
The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), as part of its Internet of Things Project, has published a detailed draft list of Internet of Things attack surface areas, or areas in IoT systems and applications where threats and vulnerabilities may exist. Below we have explained the Internet of Things attack surface areas in brief.
The primary way in which attacks can be started is through devices. Memory, web interface, network services, firmware, and physical interface are the few parts of a device where threats can come from. Attackers can also take the benefits of insecure default settings, outdated components, and insecure update mechanisms, among others.
Attacks can be started from the channels that connect IoT components with one another. IoT systems that use protocols can have security issues that can affect the whole system. IoT systems are also susceptible to well-known networks like denial of service (DoS) and spoofing.
Applications and software
Threats can lead to compromised systems in web applications and related software for IoT devices. For instance, Web applications can be exploited to steal user credentials or push malicious firmware updates.
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IoT Security Threats Organizations Must Address
IoT admins, developers, and security officers are always prioritizing measures to prevent this type of attack after major botnet attacks such as Mirai took place in 2016. IoT devices are found to be attractive targets by botnet attackers due to their weak security configurations and the number of devices that can be consigned to a botnet used to target enterprises.
With the help of unprotected ports or phishing scams, an attacker can infect an IoT device with malware and co-opt it into an IoT botnet used to launch massive cyber attacks. Hackers can easily find malicious code on the internet that detects susceptible machines or hides code from detection before another code module signals devices to launch an attack or steal information.
To collect data from older machines, most enterprises use the Internet of Things, which wasn’t always designed with the latest security standards. When enterprises combine legacy devices with IoT, it can expose the network to older device threats. IoT device connections usually depend on DNS, which is a decentralized naming system from the 1980s. This system may not handle the scale of Internet of Things deployments that can grow to thousands of devices. To hack the data or introduce malware, hackers can use DNS vulnerabilities in DDoS attacks and DNS tunneling.
With Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC), IT officials can ensure DNS vulnerabilities do not become a threat to IoT security. With the help of digital signatures, these specifications secure DNS that ensures data is accurate and unmodified.
IoT Physical Security
IT officials should not forget physical security while planning the IoT strategy, regardless of whether it may seem unlikely that attackers will physically access an Internet of Things device. Hackers can steal devices, open them up and access the inner circuits as well as ports to break into the network. It is critical that IT officials only deploy authenticated devices and allow only authorized and authenticated devices access.
How can the IoT be secured?
As we have seen in the IoT attack surface areas above, IoT systems can be exploited with all of the major components. Because of this, when building and maintaining an IoT system, it is necessary to prioritize security. Security should be prioritized right from the design phase to better integrate it into each aspect of the system, regardless of the scale or the type of environment an IoT system is built into. It should not be ignored. In this way, the IoT system can be tailored to be both secure and functional, from its individual devices to its overall configuration.
Below mentioned are some other security guidelines to be taken into consideration:
All data being gathered and information being stored should be accounted for. It is necessary to map every single piece of data and information circulated within an Internet of Things system. This also includes any possible credentials in automation servers or other Internet of Things apps, apart from including what is gathered by the sensors and devices deployed in the environment.
Each device connected to the network should be configured with security in mind. It is necessary to ensure the security settings before connecting a device to the network. This includes using MFA (multi-factor authentication), having a strong username and password combination, and encryption.
The company’s security strategy should be built on the assumption of compromise. Although avoiding breaches and compromise is important, acknowledging that there is no perfect defense against evolving threats can help in creating mitigation protocols that can significantly contain and reduce the effects of a successful attack.
IT officials must take a multilayered approach to IoT security risk mitigation. There are broader best practices and strategies that organizations can put in place. Sennonate experts are well aware of these practices and strategies to safeguard your business from cyber-attacks.
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