The demand for IoT app development is taking a peak across the globe with the rapid fast technological innovations. As per Statista, the estimated global IoT spending will be $1.1 trillion (approx.). This will definitely create a surge in the usage of cutting edge IoT apps and solutions.
Manufacturers continue to compete on who would get the latest device in the hands of consumers first?
Very few of them are considering the security issues associated with data access & management as well as with that of the IoT devices themselves.
But what are the largest security and privacy challenges, currently plaguing the field of IoT-connected devices?
1. Insufficient testing and updating
Currently, there are over 23 billion IoT connected devices worldwide. This number will further rise up to reach 30 billion by 2020 and over 60 billion by the end of 2025. This massive wave of new gadgets doesn’t come without a cost.
In fact, one of the main problems with tech companies building these devices is that they are too careless when it comes to handling device-related security risks.
Most of these devices and IoT products don’t get enough updates while some don’t get critical security updates at all.
This means that a device that was once thought of as secure when the customers first bought it becomes insecure and eventually prone to hackers and other security concerns.
Early computer systems had this same problem, which was somewhat solved with automatic updates.
IoT manufacturers, however, are more eager to produce and deliver their devices as fast as they can, without giving security too much of a thought.
Unfortunately, most manufacturers offer firmware updates only for a short period of time, only to stop the moment they start working on the next headline-grabbing gadget. Even worse, they use unsupported legacy Linux kernels.
This leaves their trusted customers exposed to potential attacks as a result of outdated hardware and software.
To protect their customers against such attacks, each device needs proper testing before being launched into the public and companies need to update them regularly.
Failing to do so is bad for both the companies and their consumers, as it only takes a single large-scale breach in consumer data to completely ruin the company.
2. Brute-forcing and the issue of default passwords
The Mirai botnet, used in some of the largest and most disruptive DDoS attacks is perhaps one of the best examples of the issues that come with shipping devices with default passwords and not telling consumers to change them as soon as they receive them.
There are some government reports that advise manufacturers against selling IoT devices that come with poor security credentials such as using “admin” as username and/or passwords.
That said, these are nothing more than guidelines now, and there aren’t any legal repercussions to incentivize manufacturers to abandon this dangerous practice.
Weak passwords and login details leave nearly all IoT devices vulnerable to password hacking and brute-forcing in particular.
The only reason why Mirai malware was so successful is that it identified vulnerable IoT devices and used default passwords to log in and infect them.
Therefore, any company that used factory default credentials on their devices is placing both their business and its assets and the customers and their valuable information at risk of being susceptible to a brute-force attack.
To prevent brute force attacks, it is advisable to make the route user inaccessible by using different SSH security features. Avoid using weak passwords. Instead use a strong password or captcha to avoid sensitive privacy issues. You should also set the login limit for a specific IP Address or Range or you can create unique login URLs as a part of your security strategy.
3. Gap in IoT skills
In today’s time, many companies have claimed that there is a wide gap in the skills of IoT security professionals. This skill gap is preventing companies from utilising the employee potential to at fullest.
For this, training and skill up-gradation programs need to be in place. Insightful workshops, hands-on newsletters, and bulletins can make a tremendous difference. The more your team members are capable and prepared for the usage of IoT security solution, the more powerful your IoT will be.
4. Poor IoT device management
IoT and IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) enabled devices in healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and life sciences. It reveals a good amount of vulnerabilities across a stunningly diverse set of connected objects. Computed Tomography machines and Magnetic Resonance Imaging devices are mainly responsible for poor security issues of IoT devices.
The combination of traditional connected devices and legacy systems such as ventilators, patient monitors, light, infusion pumps, and thermostats with poor security features are prone to hacking attacks that include:
- Disruption of operations,
- Compromised customer data and safety,
- Financial losses,
- Reputational damage.
The abovementioned IoT security threats can be radically reduced by implementing IoT security solutions. They respond to end-to-end solution needs from customers and the essential device security challenges tackled with device management. These platforms can improve asset provisioning, firmware update, decrease security vulnerabilities, alert, and report on specific metrics associated with IoT assets.
5. IoT malware and ransomware
As the number of IoT connected devices continues to rise in the following years, so will the number of malware and ransomware used to exploit them.
While the traditional ransomware relies on encryption to completely lock out users out of different devices and platforms, there’s an ongoing hybridization of both malware and ransomware strains that aims to merge the different types of attack.
The ransomware attacks could potentially focus on limiting and/or disabling device functionality and stealing user data at the same time.
For example, a simple IP camera is ideal for capturing sensitive information using a wide range of locations, including your home, work office or even the local gas station.
The webcam can then be locked and footage funnelled to an infected web address which could extract sensitive data using the malware access point and demand ransom to unlock the device and return the data.
The ever-increasing number of IoT devices will give birth to unpredictability in regard to unauthorized access or theft in future.
6. IoT botnets aiming at cryptocurrency
The heated mining competition, coupled with the recent rise of cryptocurrency valuations is proving too enticing for hackers trying to cash in on the crypto-craze.
While most find blockchain resistant to hacking, the number of attacks in the blockchain sector seems to be increasing.
The main vulnerability isn’t the blockchain itself, but rather the blockchain app development running on it.
Social engineering is already being used to extract usernames, passwords, and the private keys and we’ll see it being used more often in the future to hack blockchain-based apps.
The open-source cryptocurrency Monero is one of the many digital currencies currently being mined with IoT devices. Some of the hackers have even repurposed IP and video cameras to mine crypto.
Blockchain breaches, IoT botnet miners and manipulation of data integrity pose a huge risk for flooding the open crypto-market and disrupting the already volatile value and structure of cryptocurrencies.
IoT applications, structures, and platforms relying on blockchain technology need to become regulated and constantly monitored and updated if it were to prevent any future cryptocurrency exploits.
7. Data security and privacy concerns (mobile, web, cloud)
Data privacy and security continues to be the single largest issues in today’s interconnected world.
Data is constantly being harnessed, transmitted, stored and processed by large companies using a wide array of IoT devices, such as smart TVs, speakers and lighting systems, connected printers, HVAC systems, and smart thermostats.
Commonly, all this user-data is shared between or even sold to various companies, violating our rights for privacy and Data security and further driving public distrust.
We need to set dedicated compliance and privacy rules that redact and anonymize sensitive data before storing and disassociating IoT data payloads from information that can be used to personally identify us.
Cached and no longer needed data should then be disposed of securely.
If the data is stored, then the largest challenge is in compliance with various legal and regulatory structures.
The same practice should be employed with mobile, web and cloud applications and services used to access, manage and process data associated with IoT devices.
Secure development of mobile app and web-based IoT applications can be quite difficult for small companies with limited budgets and manpower.
As we already mentioned, most manufacturers tend to focus solely on getting the app and device on the market fast to attract even more funding and start growing their user base.
Unless you want to risk a major breach of security and ruin your brand authority and trustworthiness, then you might want to consider going through a directory of mobile and web development companies and find the best one that can fulfil all your security requirements with multi-layered data management.
8. Security Problems In Device Update Management
Firmware or software can also be one of the greatest sources that affect software security. However, a manufacturer can offer the latest product updates with the devices he sells. Chances are there that some security breaches may occur because of these updates.
In addition to this, when any automatic update takes place, the device will send it back to the cloud. Due to this, the device will suffer a shorter downtime. Also, if the connection is unencrypted or the files are insecure then there is a strong possibility that the hacker will steal the sensitive information.
9. Insufficient data protection
Lack of proper data protection can be one of the critical IoT security concerns. This issue can occur because of hazardous communications or data storage. One of the significant vulnerabilities of IoT security is that compromised devices can be used to access confidential data. The importance of secure data storage and network segregation has never been more clear.
To address these data protection challenges, you can harness the potential of cryptography. By encrypting your sensitive data, you can prevent unofficial access or data thefts. Furthermore, data decryption can help you to safeguard the confidentiality and privacy of data.
Besides this, cryptography is also an effective solution to bash out the eavesdropping attacks that are used in industrial espionage or in sniffing attacks where the hacker can acquire passive access to data of industrial controls systems that is being received or sent over the network.
Moreover, cryptography is also used as the standard defence for Man In The Middle Attacks. In Man in The Middle Attacks, the hacker intercepts the important messages and injects the new ones.
10. Insecure interfaces
Every IoT device processes and communicates data. They need apps, services, and protocols for communication, and many IoT security patches originate from insecure interfaces. Lack of insufficient device authentication and weak encryption or no encryption are some of the most common interface issues.
Use device authentication to prevent unauthorized access to a connected device and data it generates, only to authorized people. Take help from digital certificates that enable a digital entity to transfer data securely. Implement strict standards, best practices, and guidelines available from authentic sources.
11. Highjacking IoT Devices
Ransomware is one of the most dangerous malware types. It blocks access to your sensitive files through encryption. Then, the fraudster will demand a ransom fee for decrypting the sensitive files. Wearables, smart homes, healthcare gadgets, and other ecosystems might be at risk in the future.
Sometimes malware locks down the entire functionality of the device. Just think that you are unable to start your vehicle unless you pay a ransom fee with the thermostat set to the maximum.
12. IoT Security Risks
Internet of Things-enabled devices have posed several security challenges for their users. Although IoT has brought amazing connectivity for devices, the common IoT security issues are not that new.
Apart from this, there are also many harmful Internet of Things risks such as minimal processing power, network access sharing, inconsistent security standards, shortage of firmware updates, etc.
Security is an imperative thing when it comes to IoT. If you are using a mobile then an eSIM can be soldered directly onto circuit boards which makes it harder for the intruders to create any damage.
13. Small IoT attacks that evade detection
The largest IoT-based botnet two years ago was the Mirai botnet. In 2017, it was the Reaper, a significantly more dangerous botnet than the famed Mirai.
As important as large-scale attacks can be, what we should be fearing in 2018 are the small-scale attacks that evade out detection.
We are guaranteed to see more and more micro-breaches slipping through the security net in the next couple of years.
Instead of using the big guns, hackers will most likely be using subtle attack small enough to let the information leak out instead of just grabbing millions and millions of records at once.
14. AI and automation
As IoT devices continue to invade our everyday lives, enterprises will eventually have to deal with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of IoT devices.
This amount of user-data can be quite difficult to manage from a data collection and networking perspective.
AI tools and automation are already being used to sift through massive amounts of data and could one day help IoT administrators and network security officers enforce data-specific rules and detect anomalous data and traffic patterns.
However, using autonomous systems to make autonomous decisions that affect millions of functions across large infrastructures such as healthcare, power and transportation might be too risky, especially once you consider that it only takes a single error in the code or a misbehaving algorithm to bring down the entire infrastructure.
As you can see, most of them revolve around two things, keeping IoT secure against attacks and keeping the user-data secure against theft.
Both of these challenges can be resolved with strict legal and regulatory frameworks aimed at manufacturers, with large fines and working constriction used for those who do not follow said frameworks.
15. Home Invasions
Perhaps one of the scariest threats that IoT can possess is of the home invasion. Nowadays, IoT devices are used in a large number at homes and offices which has given rise to the home automation.
The security of these IoT devices is a huge matter of concern as it can expose your IP address that can pinpoint your residential address.
This vital information can be sold by the hackers to the underground websites which are havens for criminal outfits.
Moreover, if you’re using IoT devices in your security systems, then there is a possibility that they might compromise as well as leave your house at a huge potential threat.
16. Remote vehicle access
Apart from home invasion, hijack of your car is also one of the threat possessed by the IoT.
Smart cars are on the verge of becoming reality with the help of connected IoT devices. However, due its IoT association, it also possesses a greater risk of a car hijack.
A skilled hacker might hijack by getting the access of your smart car through the remote access. This will be scary situation as anyone can have control over your car and it can leave you vulnerable to lethal crimes.
17. Untrustworthy communication
There are many IoT devices that send messages to the network without any encryption. This is one of the biggest IoT security problems which exists out there.
It’s high time that all the companies ensure encryption of the highest level among their cloud services and devices.
To avoid this security threat, the best way to do this is to use transport encryption and security standards like TLS. Another way is to use different networks that isolates different devices.
You can also use private communication which ensures that the data transmitted is secure and confidential.