We live in the era of technology, Artificial Intelligence, and the Internet of Things. In today’s digital times, IoT devices have become widely popular. Smart voice assistants like Alexa or Siri have become an important part of our lives. From smart TVs to smartwatches, IoT devices have made our personal and professional lives more efficient and convenient.
A unique thing about IoT devices is that you don’t need to be in their proximity to control them. You can control your home security system from miles away. You can ask Alexa to play your favorite music while you continue with your daily workout session.
Businesses are also having a wonderful time with IoT devices. The Internet of Things enables companies to collect and manage their customers’ data better and more efficiently. IoT has also helped businesses interpret and analyze behavior more effectively. Not only that, but it has also enhanced workplace security and employee efficiency.
While the Internet of Things has provided businesses with exceptional opportunities for growth and innovation, it has also opened the door to several vulnerabilities and online threats. As the connectivity of our devices increases, so do the cybersecurity risks.
This article will walk you through the major security threats to IoT devices and how you can protect yourself against them. Read on to learn more.
What Are the Major IoT Security Threats?
IoT devices have become an attractive target for cybercriminals. After all, IoT devices are a gold mine of data for hackers. From your fitness and health-related data to your home security settings, IoT devices store a lot of sensitive data. This is why cyberattacks against them are soaring today.
Here are some of the major IoT security concerns that you should be aware of:
Absence of Encryption
Most IoT attacks happen due to the lack of encryption. A study conducted by Palo Alto revealed that almost 98% of the global IoT device traffic is unencrypted. This makes it extremely easy for cybercriminals to intercept confidential data and use it for their benefit.
Increasing Use of Malware
Malware attacks have become the biggest cause of concern for IoT device owners all around the world. Cyberattackers are leveraging sophisticated malware to carry out attacks on IoT devices.
Since most IoT devices lack strong security, they become an easy target for hackers. Cyber attacks like Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are carried out with brute force using IoT malware.
Use of Weak or Default Password
Another prevalent threat to IoT device security is the usage of weak or default passwords. Almost all IoT devices come with a default password set by the manufacturer.
One of the biggest mistakes most users make is that they don’t bother changing this password. Or even if they do, they set it to something very common and weak. Cybercriminals make the most of this opportunity and easily break into the device. A majority of the brute force attacks result from nothing but weak passwords!
Most IoT devices use third-party services to provide users with various features. While this definitely enhances the user experience, it also puts the user’s online security at tremendous risk.
How? For starters, the lack of encryption means any scammer can place themselves in the middle of your online conversation and intercept your data. Furthermore, these third-party services in your IoT devices can also become a possible source of customer data leaks.
Most third-party service providers are notorious for sharing their user’s data with tech giants like Google or Facebook without the consent of their customers. For example, it was found that Ring, a company providing smart home security appliances like smart doorbells, was selling their customers’ sensitive data to Google and Facebook without their customers’ knowledge or permission.
Protecting Your IoT Devices in 5 Easy Steps
Now that we have talked about the most common IoT security threats, let’s discuss the measures you can take to safeguard your IoT devices from the clutches of cybercriminals.
Closely Monitor all of Your Connected Devices
Actively monitoring and analyzing your connected devices can go a long way in ensuring your IoT device’s safety. Doing so can help you stay aware of everything and everyone connected to your network. You will also be in a better position to track the activities of each connected device and spot any suspicious activity before it can cause major damage.
Business organizations can implement real-time monitoring solutions and safety architectures to strengthen IoT security. This also helps them flag down and remove suspicious and unauthorized devices from their network.
Never Ignore the Power of a Strong Password
Weak device passwords continue to be one of the biggest reasons for IoT device attacks and data breaches. It is essential not to ignore the importance of a strong and unique password.
As soon as you set up your IoT device, change its default password to something strong and complex. Try to use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Never use your name, birth date, or worse, “1234567” as your device password.
Additionally, never use the same password for all of your devices. Keep changing the passwords at regular intervals to enhance your IoT device security.
Download and Install the Latest Updates and Security Patches
Unlike your smartphones, laptop, and other IT devices, IoT devices don’t receive frequent updates. Thus, most people often forget about updating their IoT devices altogether. And this is where they go wrong.
IoT devices that are not updated or lack the latest security patches are cybercriminals’ favorite. After all, it is effortless for them to break into and gain unauthorized control of such devices. To avoid this, regularly visit the vendor’s website and download the latest security patches and updates to patch up your online vulnerabilities and strengthen your privacy.
Disable the Universal Plug-and-Play Feature
It is a smart idea to never enable the universal plug-and-play feature on your IoT device. This feature allows for the available devices to connect automatically, without the need for manual configuration.
The UPnP feature makes you vulnerable to potential security risks. After all, you never know what kind of devices are available outside your trusted network, right? There can be cybercriminals waiting to gain access to your devices.
Because of this, we recommend you disable this feature and only connect devices after proper configuration.
Strengthen your Wi-Fi Security
This can help you to minimize the risk of potential cyberattacks. There are several ways to scale up your Wi-Fi security.
For starters, you should always use the WPA2 security protocol instead of WPS. You should also enable your router firewall and secure router settings. Setting up a complex password for Wi-Fi access also goes a long way in enhancing your Wi-Fi security.
Additionally, as much as possible, try to avoid connecting your IoT devices to public Wi-Fi to avoid potential security risks.
It is estimated that by the end of 2030, there will be close to 25.4 billion active IoT devices all around the globe. This will result in tremendous growth in the IoT device industry. However, it also means we will have to be prepared for even more IoT threats and security issues.
Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and creative with their techniques. If you want to beat them at their own game, you must stay updated with recent security developments in the IoT industry, implement all safety protocols and practices, and continuously monitor the activities of your IoT devices.
Tech Masters helps small businesses owners succeed by providing industry-leading data and network security and IT solutions. Contact us today with questions and get a free IT assessment for your business.
To learn more about protecting your IoT devices, check out our frequently asked questions and answers below
What are your top five security concerns with IoT
The top five security concerns with IoT or the Internet of Things include:
Lack of encryption
Lack of proper updates
Absence of the latest security patches
Poor password hygiene
How do I protect my connected devices?
There are various ways to protect your connected devices and safeguard your online security. Most of them are simpler than you might believe them to be.
Here are some common ways to protect your connected devices:
Always keep your devices up-to-date
Enable multi-factor authentication
Keep a unique and strong password for your Wi-Fi networks and make sure you change it occasionally
Disable all the features in your IoT devices that you don’t use.
Make sure to set up a guest network for guests, visitors, and friends.
What steps can an organization take to protect IoT systems and devices?
Organizations can use the following safety tips to protect their IoT systems and devices:
Only allow the most trusted vendors to access the enterprise’s IoT devices remotely
Prevent the IoT devices from communicating with an external or unknown network
Keep the corporate network separate from the ones managed by the vendors
Invest in a high-quality firmware
Encrypt end-to-end communications
Encrypt all the network endpoints
Educate their employees about the latest IoT security threats and how to deal with them effectively.
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