What Does IoT Device Security Encompass?

IoT safety implies security and protection of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and applications from potential threats and vulnerabilities. The interconnected nature of IoT devices makes them susceptible to various risks, ranging from unauthorized access to data breaches and even physical harm. 

  • Weak authentication is a prevalent concern, as default passwords are often easy to guess or publicly accessible. Additionally, some IoT devices lack proper authentication altogether, making them potential entry points for hackers to compromise entire networks or employ them in botnets for malicious activities. Therefore, manufacturers should enhance authentication measures, such as requiring multiple steps and enforcing strong default passwords. 

  • Low processing power is another challenge. Despite the reduced costs and extended battery life, it hinders OTA updates and the implementation of cybersecurity features like firewalls and end-to-end encryption. To address this, networks must incorporate built-in security features to safeguard IoT devices effectively. 

  • Dealing with Legacy Assets. Integrating outdated applications into the IoT ecosystem without necessary security enhancements can be risky. Older assets might not be compatible with newer encryption standards, making them vulnerable to attacks. However, retrofitting legacy assets poses significant challenges due to their complex and interconnected nature, often developed over many years. Manufacturers must carefully assess and implement security improvements on such assets. 

  • Shared Network Risks. One network for both IoT devices and end users' other devices exposes the entire network to high risks. A hacker compromising an IoT device can use this access to reach sensitive data on the network or other devices. To avoid this, each IoT application should operate on a separate network, employ a security gateway, or utilize cellular IoT, which isolates potential breaches to the device itself. Implementing Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) adds an extra layer of protection, but shared connections with other devices can still pose risks. 

  • The Lack of Standardization and Encryption. Inconsistency in security standards across the IoT ecosystem is a growing challenge within securing devices and enabling safe M2M communication. The absence of a universal, industry-wide standard necessitates individual companies and niches to develop their own protocols and guidelines, making security measures more complex. In addition, in order to avoid network breaches, encryption on regular transmissions should be utilized. 

  • Issues with Firmware Updates.  One of the most significant IoT security risks arises from devices deployed in the field with existing bugs or vulnerabilities. Whether originating from the manufacturer's code or a third-party source, the ability to issue firmware updates is essential to eliminate these risks. Manufacturers should ideally facilitate remote updates, but when infeasible, alternative approaches must be considered. Low data transfer rates or limited messaging capabilities may require physical access to the device for updates. 

What Are the Samples of IoT Breaches? 

  • Malicious Botnet Takeover (2016): A notorious incident, widely known as the "Botnet Takeover," shook the IoT landscape in 2016. Cybercriminals exploited the vulnerability of unsecured IoT devices, predominantly cameras and routers, by infiltrating them with the Mirai malware. This massive botnet was then harnessed to launch powerful Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, causing widespread internet disruptions and raising alarming concerns over IoT security. 

  • Connected Car Vulnerability (2015): In 2015, a prominent demonstration of IoT vulnerability came to light when security researchers exposed a critical flaw in a popular connected car model, the Jeep Cherokee. By exploiting a vulnerability in the car's infotainment system, hackers were able to remotely take control of essential functions like steering, brakes, and transmission.  

  • Baby Monitor Privacy Breach (Various Incidents): Numerous distressing incidents have emerged involving the unauthorized access of baby monitors by hackers. Exploiting security loopholes, they gained unauthorized access to the devices, enabling them to eavesdrop on infants and even communicate with unsuspecting parents.  

  • Data Leak from Smart Toy (2017): In 2017, a prominent smart toy brand, CloudPets, faced a significant data leak affecting millions of users. The breach exposed over two million voice recordings of children and their families due to an inadequately secured database. The incident raised questions about the privacy and security of IoT devices used in homes, particularly those involving children. 

  • Privacy Issues with Smart Doorbells (2019): In 2019, a series of unsettling events drew attention to privacy concerns associated with smart doorbell cameras. Reports surfaced of unauthorized individuals gaining access to Ring doorbell cameras, invading homeowners' privacy and even subjecting them to harassment.