Dennis Underwood
Published on
March 23, 2023

IoT Security: Understanding the Risks and How to Mitigate Them

The IoT has revolutionized the world, but it's also presented unique security risks. You can read this guide to learn more about IoT security.

Did you know that in a survey, 33% of business respondents reported having IoT (Internet of Things) security concerns about device attacks? IoT security refers to the process of protecting both internet-related devices and the various networks they connect to. 

See, the sheer volume of these devices means that there are tons of user data related to your business. And sadly, that data can easily be stolen. 

Because the IoT is so big, the best security plans involve monitoring and identifying potential vulnerabilities. In this guide, we'll discuss IoT security in more detail so your business can stay protected from this threat. 

Challenges of IoT Security

IoT security's biggest challenge is the significant number of devices connecting to a network. Why is this a problem? Because each new device that joins the web increases the attack surface that hackers can use to exploit a network. 

While this is the main challenge that IoT security faces, it's far from the only one. The other challenges include things like:

  • Some IoT manufacturers treat security like an afterthought during their testing and development phase
  • Increase in the number and variety of IoT device applications
  • IoT devices with weak default passwords can be subject to brute-forcing and password hacking
  • Malware that's specifically designed to target IoT devices
  • Some IoT devices gather user and environment data that users and companies would be uncomfortable sharing with device manufacturers
  • Hackers hijack an IoT device, then use it as a backdoor into an environment 
  • Some IoT devices don't support proper encryption
  • Software or hardware limitations or bugs cannot always be easy or possible to fix, even with device replacement

Why IoT Security is Critical

There's a reason why the IoT and its threat to cloud security made our list as one of the top network attack issues to look out for in 2023. These days, finding a device that doesn't connect to the internet is hard. 

Think about the implications of this from a security perspective. Everything from intelligent devices to cars has the potential to be hacked. 

That means someone relying on a heart monitor could have the connection disrupted, which puts their life at risk. Or a smart car could be hacked while someone is driving it. With IoT security, it's common for lives to be on the line. 

A security camera is one of the biggest security risks 

IoT Devices That Have the Highest Security Risks

Specific IoT devices are more accessible to hack than others when using command injection, network scanning, and remote code execution. 

That being said, once the hackers enter the first device, it usually becomes relatively easy for them to move laterally through a network. These are the devices that have the highest security risks:

  • Medical imaging systems
  • Security cameras
  • Patient monitoring systems
  • Printers
  • Medical device gateways
  • Consumer electronics
  • Energy management devices
  • IP phones

Related: Have the Latest Antivirus? Great... You're Still at Risk of a Ransomware Attack

Biggest Threats to IoT Security

IoT security threats come in many different forms. You can break down the threats into three categories: user practice, exploits, and malware. Within these three categories include specific threats like:

  • Password hacking
  • Phishing
  • Cryptojacking
  • Network scan
  • Remote code execution
  • Command injection 
  • Buffer overflow
  • SQL injection
  • Zero-day
  • Worm
  • Ransomware (or double extortion ransomware)
  • Botnet
  • Backdoor Trojan

How to Fortify Your IoT by Utilizing Best Practices in IoT Security

When you read about the many threats that IoT devices face, it's easy to get discouraged from a security perspective.

The good news is that, though IoT security has a long way to go, there have still been significant developments in managing the risk. In this section, we'll list some ways you can utilize best practices in IoT security. 

Fortify Your IoT Endpoints

Whenever a new device accesses your network, it creates a new endpoint. That endpoint represents a potential entry for a hacker. Fortifying your IoT endpoints can be challenging because the number of devices is constantly increasing. 

That's why using things like mobile device management, antivirus software, and security patches are some of the pillars of cybersecurity when fortifying these endpoints.

CyberCrucible works with your existing endpoint solutions. Read this guide to learn more about how our product monitors your other security programs in case they're hijacked. 

Manage and Track Devices

As we mentioned, each new device that connects to your network represents a new security hole. That's why it's essential to understand any new devices that are connecting. 

The best method of doing this is to invest in software since tracking, monitoring, and managing manually is next to impossible. The software can automate this process which gives you a better understanding. 

Evaluate Patching and Remediation

Patching and remediation occur when connected devices have their code changed to improve security. Remember that some devices are too complex for a complete patch. In that case, you will need to think twice about incorporating them into your network. 

Related: Downtime After Ransomware: The Silent Killer

Create a Risk-Driven Security Strategy

A risk-drive security strategy involves identifying which assets in your IoT network are critical. Then, whichever ones have been assigned the most outstanding value are protected accordingly. 

It could be better, but this form of triage is when it comes to protecting the vast IoT security landscape. 

Test and Evaluate Hardware and Software Regularly

Before you put devices into the hands of the people using them, you need to be aware of their vulnerabilities. 

The best method of doing this involves testing and evaluating IoT devices at a hardware and software level before implementing them. In some cases, this also needs to apply reverse engineering. 

A Man in Brown Dress Shirt Holding Black Tablet Computer

Change Credentials and Passwords Often

This might seem like an outdated form of security, but it's not. The reality is that most IoT devices arrive with a password supplied by the vendor. 

These default passwords are incredibly easy for hackers to access. As such, regularly updating them is a great way of securing the devices from hackers. 

Evaluate How the IoT Interacts With the Data

Pay attention to how the IoT device interacts with data. Is the data in a standard format? Or is it using NPPI and PHI data? If it's the latter, then it has the potential to be utilized by criminal agents for exploitation. 

Also, evaluate data flows to manufacturers or equipment servicing companies. That way, you can understand what environmental data is sent outside of your control.

Utilize the Latest Encryption Protocols

If your data isn't encrypted, it means that cybercriminals can obtain it. That's why you need to use encryption protocols to encrypt any information coming or going from these IoT devices. 

If you're relying on older protocols for encryption, you need to update them as they're currently vulnerable to attack. We recommend using this latest encryption method

Related: Why Aren't Security Tools Stopping Ransomware

Make IoT Security a Priority

These days, almost every business is vulnerable to IoT security threats. Sadly, some industries are more vulnerable than others. For example, many devices could potentially expose patient data in the healthcare industry. 

So as our businesses become more reliant on smart technology, it's vital to ensure that we properly secure them. Otherwise, it could have potentially disastrous effects,  

Ready to protect your organization from the risks that IoT poses? Contact CyberCrucible today to discover how our automated protection solutions can help you. 

About the author
Dennis Underwood

Dennis Underwood is a veteran, cybersecurity leader, inventor, and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience. He is an expert at cryptography, intrusion discovery and analysis, having discovered multiple previously unreported intrusions to clients throughout his career. Currently, he is leading a team of like-minded experts delivering next generation intrusion discovery and ransomware response automation tools to consumers.

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