The “internet of things” offers a lot of possibilities, but it also offers potential risks. In case you don’t know, we are talking about “smart” devices. These are devices ranging from baby monitors to digital signs that are able to access the internet. As such, they are able to update themselves and perform certain other automated tasks. We are sure you can see the wide range of conveniences involved here. Unfortunately, that same convenience can turn into a liability if the smart device is hacked.
How Great Is The Danger?
There isn’t really an easy answer to this question. IoT hacking incidents have occurred in the past, but none of them have been all that high-profile. In fact, many of them amounted to nothing more than simple spying or some cruel pranks. However, it has been amply demonstrated that most IoT devices can potentially be exploited.
This is why we call IoT security “the coming threat,” rather than “the present threat.” It isn’t a huge problem right now, simply because there haven’t been all that many major attacks involving IoT. We also need to consider the fact that IoT devices are not that widely used by the general population. While a lot of enterprises are using them, the average person is not.
As this technology becomes cheaper and more widely available, you can bet that more hackers will become interested in its vulnerabilities. As it stands now, hackers usually target computers and mobile phones because everyone uses them. So, it stands to reason that IoT hacking will become a much bigger problem in the future.
Will IoT Devices Become More Commonplace In The Near Future?
This is the million-dollar question. If IoT devices do not become common and widespread, then there wouldn’t be a need to think about IoT security. However, IoT does seem to be more than a current trend, if these numbers are correct.
In 2020, the total worth of the global IoT industry was about 308 billion dollars. By the time 2021 is over, that number is expected to reach 381 billion. Further, it is projected that this particular industry will grow to a size of roughly 1,854 billion dollars, which is a pretty ridiculous number. Obviously, people are buying these things, and there is every reason to think that the trend will continue. Therefore, IoT security needs to be considered before they start becoming ubiquitous.
IoT Security Threats
There are many ways in which malicious actors can utilize hijacked IoT devices. For those who are simply acting out of pure malice or hate, it presents a near-infinite number of ways to annoy people. For more serious criminals, they can use it to conduct illegal surveillance on a wide variety of targets. From there, they just need to catch a glimpse at something sensitive like a password written on a piece of paper. Then, of course, you have perverts who will use it to spy on people’s private lives.
Identity theft is another potential risk. If someone is able to spy on you for a protracted period of time, it will then become much easier for them to impersonate you. Any specific information that they notice is likely to aid their deception.
In some cases, your IoT device might even be hijacked and used to attack someone else. The Mirai botnet attack is a great example of this fact. A botnet is basically a mini-network of hijacked computers, all of whom dedicate their computing resources to the accomplishment of specific tasks. Hackers often use them to carry out complex tasks from afar, and it’s very hard to trace a botnet to its controller.
Botnets can also be used for DDOS attacks. These are website attacks that are aimed at shutting down a particular server. They do this by overloading the server with a huge amount of connection requests. So, if you have a botnet consisting of 500 hijacked machines, you can make 500 connection requests at once. The Mirai botnet attack that we mentioned earlier is the largest DDOS attack to date, and it was apparently carried out by a group of teenagers.
What Can Be Done?
In many cases, people have been able to hack these IoT devices because their manufacturers paid little (if any) attention to security. This is a blind spot, and that makes it easy for people to exploit. However, there are a lot of ways in which IoT technology can be secured. While it is never possible to have perfect security, we could get a lot closer.
First of all, network segmentation is a great idea here. You should not have your IoT devices on the same network as your end-user devices (like computers, tablets, phones, etc.). If you do this, the IoT device will give someone an easy point of entry, and they can compromise everything with little effort. Instead, keep them on a separate network using a separate router if possible.
That brings us to the security of the network itself. You definitely want to make sure you enable strong encryption and firewall protection on your network. Disabling WPS is also a good idea, as it can be a vulnerability. These things are normally done at the router level (on a settings page that you open with your browser). However, these things can also be used at the device level.
IoT security might not be a gigantic concern right now, but it should be. The best medicine is preventive medicine, and this is the cybersecurity equivalent thereof. We need to get a grip on this threat before it gets any bigger.
Just think: if people had anticipated just how much of a problem that ransomware would become, it probably wouldn’t have gotten so out of hand. As it stands, the problem was not fully appreciated until it was too late, and these types of attacks are now dreadfully out of hand. We hope that, at the very least, a few intelligent people will read this article and take the threat seriously. If you would like to know more, you can contact PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.