In the future, IoT will connect many devices, enabling them to communicate with one another. Examples of these devices include smart watches, smart TVs, smartphones and smart cars. This connection will allow a vast number of possibilities, but it also introduces new security risks. In order to remain safe, people need to understand these risks and educate themselves about how to handle them. We will look at these possibilities and how we can be able to prevent or minimize the risks.
How can IoT devices be hacked?
IoT devices can be hacked in various ways:
1. Poor password protection
Many IoT devices are shipped with default passwords, which makes it easy for cybercriminals to guess the password.
2. Weak data encryption
The data transmitted between an IoT device and its cloud server or mobile application is often not properly encrypted or not encrypted at all, which makes it easy for hackers to intercept the data and modify it (e.g., ransomware).
3. Lack of software update mechanisms
Manufacturers often do not provide and keep providing security patches for their devices, making them vulnerable to new types of attacks over time.
4. Poor change management processes
Software updates can introduce vulnerabilities or cause “collateral damage” that disrupts the operation of other software components or systems on your network; therefore, having a solid change management process is key to minimizing the risk of introducing security vulnerabilities into your network through software updates. This can be automated using tools such as Ansible Tower (free version available) and Red Hat Satellite Server (commercial).
5. Design flaws
Design flaws in the hardware/software stack that lead to design-time errors being introduced into production code or firmware (e.g., buffer overflows). These vulnerabilities are difficult to detect before deployment because they depend on user input.
Are there ways to secure IoT devices?
Let’s discuss some of the ways to secure your IoT devices:
1. Using strong passwords
One of the most obvious ways to secure your IoT devices is by using strong passwords. Using the same password for all your devices is never a good idea because if one device is hacked, a cybercriminal could potentially access all your other devices as well.
Ideally you should use a random string of characters, but at the very least you should use different passwords for each device and make sure that they’re not “password” or “12345”. Additionally, turning off default administrative credentials and changing network names are also ways to prevent cybercriminals from accessing your data.
2. Update firmware regularly
It’s also important to update firmware regularly to ensure that security flaws have been fixed. If you don’t have time or aren’t sure how to do this yourself, consider using an IoT monitoring service that can take care of firmware updates for you automatically.
3. Use a VPN
You can also protect your data by using a VPN on all of your connected devices so that personal information like shopping habits and browsing history can stay private even when you’re surfing on public Wi-Fi networks at places like cafes or hotels.
4. Use firewalls
Use firewalls to block unwanted traffic and enable multifactor authentication to keep unwanted users out of your accounts, especially if they contain valuable information like credit card numbers or social security numbers.
How are manufacturers responding to the security risks?
There are many ways that manufacturers can respond to these security risks, but the most important step is to ensure that security features are built into devices from the start.
1. Security features should be proactive
This means taking steps to prevent breaches rather than just responding after a breach occurs. For example, smart doorbells could require users to create strong passwords, or they could prevent brute force attempts by requiring two-factor authentication before allowing access.
2. Consumer education
Consumer education is also extremely important because informed consumers will make informed decisions when choosing which devices to purchase. It’s incumbent on manufacturers to provide clear and detailed information about how their devices work and what data they collect.
IoT devices have the potential to be a powerful tool for individuals, businesses, and the government if their security can be guaranteed. Because these devices are intended for such a wide variety of uses, it is difficult to implement a single solution to increase their security. However, through education, user awareness, and innovative thinking about device design, it may be possible to make these connected devices much more secure than they currently are.