Remote telemetry & IoT

12 IoT cyber security threats to avoid


As IoT (Internet of Things) devices weave into the fabric of our daily lives, from smart thermostats to connected cars, the need for robust IoT cyber security measures has never been more pressing. Let’s dive into 12 IoT cyber security threats that pose significant risks and offer guidance on navigating these digital waters safely.

What is IoT cyber security?

IoT cyber security encompasses the strategies, technologies, and practices to protect internet-connected devices and their networks from digital threats. With the advent of smart devices infiltrating every aspect of our lives—from home appliances to industrial sensors—securing these devices extends beyond traditional cyber security measures. It involves safeguarding a vast and diverse array of devices that not only store and process data but also interact with the physical world in ways conventional computers do not. This complexity introduces unique challenges such as device diversity, scalability issues, and the direct physical implications of security breaches, making IoT cyber security a critical field.

The essence of IoT cyber security lies in ensuring data confidentiality, integrity, and availability within the IoT ecosystem. This is achieved through a combination of secure device design, robust data encryption, strict access control, and continuous monitoring and updating to mitigate emerging threats. As IoT devices increasingly become embedded in our daily routines and the broader economic infrastructure, the role of IoT cyber security becomes paramount. It ensures that we can leverage the benefits of connected technologies while protecting against the vulnerabilities they introduce.

1. Weak passwords

The most fundamental yet often overlooked vulnerability in IoT cyber security is using weak passwords. Devices shipped with default passwords or those easily guessable open the doors wide to unauthorised access.

Always customise device passwords using a complex combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Changing any default configurations should be your first step to become more secure.

2. Insecure network services

IoT devices often communicate over networks that lack secure encryption, making them prime targets for eavesdropping and data breaches.

Ensure your IoT devices use encryption for data transmission and are connected securely to your network. Using a mesh-overlay software are a great way to resolve this issue, whilst also being easy to deploy.

3. Shadow IoT

Shadow IoT refers to devices connected to the network without IT’s knowledge or approval. These unauthorised devices significantly expand the attack surface, offering cyber criminals easy entry points into the network.

Some tips to resolve shadow IoT issues are:

  • Implement strict network access controls
  • Regularly conduct audits to detect and manage unauthorised devices
  • Educate employees about the risks of connecting personal or unauthorised devices to the corporate network.

4. Insecure ecosystem interfaces

Web, mobile, and cloud interfaces form the ecosystem around IoT devices, each presenting its own set of vulnerabilities. These interfaces act as gateways for users to interact with their devices, from configuration settings to data access, making them attractive targets for cyber attacks.

Ensure your business/organisation implements strong, unique passwords for each interface and enable two-factor authentication where possible. This adds an extra layer of security, making it significantly harder for attackers to gain unauthorised access.

5. Insufficient privacy protection

IoT devices often collect vast amounts of personal data, which can be a goldmine for cyber criminals if they are not adequately protected. Often privacy policies are not read carefully nor are device settings adjusted to limit the amount of data shared.

6. Insecure data transfer and storage

Transferring and storing data without robust encryption can lead to data theft and manipulation, exposing sensitive information and potentially leading to financial loss or privacy breaches. In the IoT ecosystem, where devices often collect and transmit vast amounts of personal or critical data, the security of this data during transfer and storage is paramount.

Ensure data is encrypted both in transit and at rest. Utilising robust encryption protocols such as TLS (Transport Layer Security) for data in transit and AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) for data at rest can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorised access and data breaches.

7. Lack of device management

Without proper oversight, an infected device can become a gateway for attacking other devices on the same network, exacerbating the spread of malware and increasing the potential for widespread system compromise. Effective device management is critical, as it allows for the monitoring, updating, and securing devices throughout their lifecycle.

A centralised IoT device management system to monitor and manage device security is a great place to start. Such systems provide a comprehensive view of all IoT devices, enabling administrators to enforce security policies, conduct regular software updates, and swiftly address vulnerabilities or breaches.

8. Malware and ransomware

IoT devices can be infected with malware or ransomware, which can turn them into bots for DDoS attacks or lock them until a ransom is paid. Without installing professional security software specifically designed for IoT devices it can be hard to prevent this sort of cyber attack.

9. DNS threats

DNS (Domain Name System) threats, such as DNS hijacking, can redirect traffic from legitimate IoT devices to malicious sites without the user’s knowledge. This manipulation exposes sensitive information and can lead to further network infiltration. Companies need to regularly monitor network traffic for unusual patterns to detect DNS threats before they become a major issue.

10. IoT botnets

IoT devices can be hijacked to form botnets, networks of infected devices that launch massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. These attacks can cripple infrastructure and services, causing widespread disruption.

It’s important to consider:

  • Securing IoT devices with strong, unique passwords and keep them updated
  • Install security solutions specifically designed to protect against malware and botnet participation

11. Unsecured APIs

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are crucial for IoT functionality, as they allow different software applications to communicate. However, unsecured APIs can expose devices to cyber attacks by providing attackers with a gateway to inject malicious code or extract data. If not properly secured, these interfaces can become critical vulnerabilities within the IoT ecosystem.

Ensure APIs used by your IoT devices are secure and regularly updated. Implement robust authentication mechanisms, encrypt data in transit, and regularly audit API access and usage to detect and mitigate potential security risks.

12. Lack of consumer awareness

Finally, the lack of consumer awareness about IoT cyber security practices contributes significantly to the vulnerability landscape. Many users are unaware of the potential risks associated with IoT devices or how their actions can affect device security. This gap in knowledge can lead to unsafe practices, such as neglecting software updates, using default passwords, or unknowingly adding insecure devices to their networks. Educating consumers on the importance of cyber security measures is crucial to enhancing the overall security of the IoT ecosystem.

Secure your digital future with IoT cyber security

Vast networks of IoT devices are a likely picture of our future, and so it is important that we secure this future. Whilst the importance of awareness and proactive measures cannot be stressed enough, we must also understand the need for secure software.

At CyberHive we’re proud to offer our mesh-overlay product ‘CyberHive Connect’, for free. Sign up here and start securing your devices.

Contact us to start securing your IoT devices.

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