Internet of Things: Major IoT Security Threats and Challenges You Didn’t Already Know.
When a technology’s market is projected to surpass the $1.3 trillion mark in a period of five years, there’s nothing that can object to its highly-progressive innovation disruption.
Juniper Research predicts that the Internet of Things (IoT) would constitute about 83 billion connections by 2024. Now, this is some growth. IoT has come a long way from sufficing the research papers to actually impacting lives.
Its applications have been widespread, from education to transportation and communication to business development. What’s noteworthy is the fact that this technology bridges the gap between a wired and wireless system and promises to make the integration as seamless as one would ideally like it to be.
However, with such rapid growth as its driver, IoT has, at times, come under the scanner of cybersecurity professionals. This is quite understandable since technology’s operations are deeply connected to human lives.
The problem with IoT is that the threats can be exponentiated in a matter of seconds, for there is so much data at stake and at such close proximity to a human’s life. Yes, organizations worldwide are already investing billions in IoT security (Around $13.48 billion in 2021); the threat still looms large, something that puts both individuals and businesses at considerable risk.
With that being said, it is essential that you’re aware of the biggest vulnerabilities of the technology and the associated threats so that you can make an informed decision about your business as well as personal use.
Major IoT Security Threats
The Ever-Looming Danger of DDoS Attacks
DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service has been troubling organizations from the early Internet days. The fact that IoT facilitates a sophisticated connection of (many) devices paves different ways for cybercriminals to leverage the opportunity and compromise the entire system.
What further escalates the problem is the use of cheap equipment for connecting the IoT devices, something that cybercriminals are very well aware of — this also inhibits the capability of devices being tracked by security professionals.
Why do attackers commit to a DDoS Attack?
Well, a variety of ideas and scenarios motivate attackers to leverage the IoT loopholes. These can be associated with the probing of an individual’s life or perhaps garnering monetary benefits — every such motive is targeted at destroying the configuration of the components in the network and any denying access to the same.
Since the IoT devices are deployed across a wide spectrum of applications, their security flaws put the entire sector at risk. For instance, attackers can stop a nuclear plant’s cooling system, which can be immensely consequential.
Although solutions exist to counter such attacks, the growth of IoT is directly proportional to the DoS and DDoS threats it would face. A recent report suggests that the upcoming 5G technology will also complement the growing nature of attacks on IoT devices.
The Invasion of Privacy
As previously mentioned, IoT devices are in close proximity to humans. This means that they are employed, in some or the other way, for the direct usage by humans for ease and comfort, of course.
However, this longing for ease and comfort comes with a great risk of IoT devices being used for eavesdropping. Consider this; you have a camera installed in your apartment. The attacker might gain access to this camera and watch over your daily activities.
And this is just one of the many examples since people use a variety of smart equipment which are capable of storing data — from healthcare-related instruments to wearables, etc.
In 2017, the German authorities banned “My Friend Cayla Dolls” that were considered to be espionage devices compromised easily by third parties. While the makers objected to the same, the authorities didn’t take a chance, and understandably so.
The Threat from Malware – A Case for Botnets
A botnet consists of several internet-connected devices or systems, and the network that connects them is used to control a target system and distribute malware.
Just to shed light on the gravity of this threat, I’d like to share the reference of Mirai malware that was used for attacking several websites in 2016, including the web host OVH and sites like Twitter, GitHub, Airbnb, etc.
It was later found out that Mirai botnet has been regularly employed for gaining illegal access to organizational databases — a popular example being the failure of the Central Authentication Service of Rutgers University.
The threat of botnets, especially looms large when considering the cryptocurrency domain where hackers use botnets through Command-and-Control Servers to access very confidential data to execute the cyber-attack.
Major IoT Challenges
Concerns with Scalability, Privacy, and Data security
This is a no-brainer. Ever since IoT has surfaced, discussions around its immense capability to scale have put forth various considerations.
Simply put, with the increase in the number of cloud users, the number of devices being deployed is increasing, and so is the demand for high-data bandwidth and a more profound and seamless transactional process.
Besides, in 2021, valuable data is being processed and stored in a comprehensive IoT device network. This makes it possible for the data to be shared or sold without the owners’ consent putting rights to privacy at risk and causing major public trust issues.
Gap Between Innovation and Compliance
IoT is at the helm, and tech firms are driving the innovation and development of IoT devices at scale; however, the same cannot be said about the consideration regarding the security loopholes of these devices.
In other words, tech firms devote little time and resources to address the compliance issues of these devices — precisely why IoT security threats are widespread.
The Determinism of the Network
This IoT application area allows devices to operate in security manufacturing, transport, control application etc. It creates a challenge when cloud services impose a delay of about two hundred milliseconds or more.
However, it is a problem to the security applications requiring rapid and immediate response since a monitoring system to receive a trigger after 5 seconds could be too late and reduce its efficiency.
Lack of dense and durable off-grid power sources
For example, Bluetooth, WIFI, Ethernet, and 4G solve the connectivity issues where they accommodate various form factors of devices. Still, the challenge arises from the meagre battery life of the devices.
Sensors and mobile phones need to be charged frequently. It would be better if power could be broadcasted wirelessly or if the power sources could last for at least a year or more.
In a Nutshell
No doubt, IoT is the future; however, to make it a sustained future, it is essential that organizations as well as manufacturers significantly stress the security issues and work in favor of mitigating them for secure public use.
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