Just How Secure is the Internet of Things Security?

Internet of Things Security

Just How Secure is the Internet of Things Security?

The penetration of the Internet of Things (IoT) into every aspect of our way of life has established itself as a smart and contemporary innovation. However, there are growing concerns with Internet of Things security as the sheer number of linked devices in any one network presents numerous points of entry for malicious hacking.

What is IoT?

Smart TV, smart cars, smart watches, smart refrigerators are the trend in the tech market lately. But what exactly are these things and what makes them so “smart”? These devices are all part of an emerging technology called the Internet of Things, or IoT for short. Basically, IoT refers to the connection of physical objects to the Internet. As well as to one another, with the goal to provide users with more convenient and efficient experiences.   

The Internet of Things is defined as a web of interconnected physical objects that are provided with sensors to read data and have the ability to transfer that data over a network without requiring human interaction. These physical objects can range from computing devices, digital machines, and home appliances to even organic things like plants, animals and people.

Unlike the traditional Internet that we know of, data in the IoT is not put in by people but rather by these physical objects. The “thing”, in the Internet of Things, can be a car that has built-in sensors to alert the owner of a theft, a thermostat that lets you control temperatures from your phone, a person with a heart monitor implant, a cow with an ID chip implant,  or any other natural or man-made object that can be assigned an IP address and provided with the capability to transfer data over the Internet.   

Privacy and security are the biggest issue with the IoT. As consumers, what you need to know is that these sensors are collecting extremely sensitive data – your personal schedule, for example. Keeping that info secure is vital to customer trust, but so far IoT’s security track record has been extremely poor.

What are IoT Security issues?

The physical and virtual world essentially becomes one integrated information system with the Internet of Things. People will rely heavily on IoT devices for improving the quality of life and driving new occupational models. This means that user’s corporate and personal data will be off loaded to the cloud where it can potentially interact with other IoT devices. One vulnerable linkage in the chain is a gateway to for hackers to exploit and gain unlimited access to data.

The pervasiveness of IoT comes with its own set of cyber security challenges. We will need to overcome these challenges before IoT devices reach their full potential.

1. Volume of IoT data is a threat to cyber security

The explosion of IoT has facilitated the collection of big data. While every IoT-enabled device is on, the smart sensors in it are gathering live information and offloading it to the cloud. The data is then used in machine learning algorithms and used by manufacturers to improve informed decision making in businesses. The absolute volume of this information generated from IoT devices is enormous. The Federal Trade Commission analysis stated that 10,000 households can generate 150 million data points daily which is a significant number of gateways for cyber pirates. These pirates intend to profit from unmonitored and insecure systems by selling the collected private information on the black market.

Cyber security personnel need to be trained with flexible and inventive new ways to defend the cloud and IoT network to meet the challenges proactively. With IoT cyber security risks snowballing, it is worthwhile for developers to invest in professionals to make sure networks are secure.

2. Privacy issues in the IoT landscape

Though precautions are currently taken to secure data, the level of cleverness exhibited by cyber-attackers is significant. They can attack not just public networks but private sources as well such as smartphones, cars, and even smart homes.

As the world adopts smart homes, Internet of Things security issues are likely if the home network is compromised. Security flaws in IoT have left smart home devices like ovens, dishwashers and refrigerators vulnerable to hacking. Researchers found that some internet-connected smart watches for children have been found susceptible to hackers that can track the wearer’s location or even eavesdrop on conversations. Because IoT devices have simple hardware, there is little thought to basics of security, like encrypting data in transit and at rest.

IoT devices bring about a whole new level of online privacy matters. Because these devices not only collect personal information like users’ names and addresses, but can also monitor what you like to eat or when you leave the house. Following the string of exposés about major data breaches and hacked private content. It is reasonable many consumers are wary of placing too much personal data in the cloud. Each new device connected means increased risk of cyber-attacks from hackers who may control devices remotely.

There is an opportunity for Internet Service Providers though, to act as the defense of local devices from hacking devices. The DOCSIS or ADSL/VDSL modem is smart, can act as a smart filter, a kind of automated firewall that only allows the customer’s smart home device through the network.

Connectivity opportunities are key tasks of network providers and their basic contribution in the area of IoT solutions.

Consider the value of an anti-malware component at the carrier level, protecting the home IoT devices that cannot defend themselves. The home router could easily detect which devices connecting to its Wi-Fi are the customer’s phone, computer and IoT devices, and which devices are malicious. To read more on Internet providers and their services visit www.xyzies.com.   

Developers should take advantage of encryption model technology to prevent unwanted broadcasting of data. Masking all personally identifiable information can protect the privacy of users, preventing hackers from doing anything with the meaningless information. Access regulation needs to be instigated to protect networks against malicious penetration.

3. IoT complexity = Cyber Risk

By connecting a greater diversity of devices to networks, this brings with it the associated risks. It is not just smartphones but watches, cars, speakers, refrigerators, furniture and many more can be made into IoT devices. There are more than three billion smartphones currently operating globally and eight billion IoT devices. The scale is extensive and it is only growing. The Gartner study predicts over 20 billion connected things by 2020. Any of this is a potential portal to the network which can be compromised.

To guard against this burgeoning risk is not easy. Security of each unit in the framework is necessary for security as a whole. An employee connecting his smart watch to the work computer can result in hackers penetrating his smartwatch to gain access to business information. Thus, companies need to develop a system to enable only authorized devices to connect. All authorized devices need to observe security protocols to ensure full security integration across all units.

4. Cyber security intruding public safety

The swelling IoT network opens up the public grid to malicious cyber-attacks. An infected network means public infrastructures such as street cameras, GPS tracking systems, traffic lights, power plants and water services could fall prey to hackers. This raises the need for superior public cyber security, as a compromised system is more dangerous for the public than a developer losing reputation.

Internet of Things security in all interfaces, device, network and cloud, need to be upheld. This may include access control, monitoring network traffic and additional firewalls

Why are IoT defenses so weak?

From a technical point of view, there’s non-existent security built into the device itself. Unlike desktop computers and laptops, little-to-no protection hardware and software is integrated in IoT devices. This is because building security into a device can be costly and stand in the way of a device performing its main function. Example, a smart thermos can maintain its thermos size and appearance because it is not built like a computer. If IoT appliances were to have computer security hardware, all our devices would be bulkier and way more expensive.

As a result, the Thing is directly exposed to the web, opening up an entrance to let criminals in. Sometimes developers leave behind code or features developed in beta that are no longer relevant which also pose as a backdoor for pirates. Default credentials are often hard coded for seamless transitioning between devices. That means you can plug in your device and go, without ever creating a unique username and password; so a hack one hack all is quite likely.  

From a rational point of view, security has simply not been made a priority in the rushing development of these devices. The swift tides of progress push us along. And developers are now caught up in the current to catch up on security measures.

What are some solutions?

Thankfully, steps are already being taken, although slowly, in the right direction. 

Government intervention

In order for developers to take security more seriously, legislation from the government is required. Government units can work with intelligence groups to create protocols that would require IoT devices a certain standard for safety and security. They can then pass this unto law and develop a board to review and certify IoT products.

Developer action

Developers must bake security into the device, rather than stick it on as an afterthought. They should audit devices prior to commercial release. As well as force credential change for every device. Especially those requiring https if there’s web access and remove unneeded functionality.

 

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