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Internet Of Things: Are These Devices an Internal Threat to our Security?

The Internet of Things (IoT) has brought about a new level of connectivity to our daily lives, but with this increased connectivity comes a greater risk of cyber security breaches. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the growing network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings, and other items that are embedded with sensors, software, and connectivity, allowing them to collect and exchange data. These devices can be found in a wide range of industries, from manufacturing and transportation to healthcare and home automation. 

Some examples of common IoT devices include:

  • Smart thermostats that can be controlled remotely and learn your preference over time
  • Home security systems that can be accessed and controlled through a smartphone app
  • Smart appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines that can be controlled remotely 
  • Wearable devices such as fitness trackers and smartwatches that can track activity and health data. 
  • Industrial IoT devices such as sensors in manufacturing plants that monitor equipment and production processes 
  • IoT devices can also be more standard devices such as printers and mobile phones

IoT devices rely on a variety of technologies to function, such as wireless communication protocols e.g. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or cellular, cloud computing and data analytics. They also require a network infrastructure to connect to the internet and communicate with other devices, The data generated by these devices can be used to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance the user experience. 

The following are some common vulnerabilities of IoT devices and ways to mitigate against them:

  • Unsecured Network Connections

IoT devices are often connected to a home or office network, and if that network is not properly secured, it can leave the devices open to attack.

  • Unpatched Software 

IoT devices are often not updated regularly, leaving them vulnerable to known security exploits.

  • Insecure Web Interfaces 

Many IoT devices have web interfaces that can be accessed from anywhere, which can be vulnerable to hacking if not properly secured.

  • Lack of Encryption 

IoT devices often transmit data over the internet, and if that data is not properly encrypted, it can be intercepted and read by hackers, breaching the CIA (Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability) Triad that is a pillar in cyber security. An article by NIST discusses the fundamental guidelines of cyber security, covering the CIA Triad in greater detail. You can read this article here.

How can you protect you IoT devices from cyber-attacks?

  • Secure Network 

Use secure protocols (e.g. HTTPS, SSL/TLS) for communication between IoT devices and backend systems and ensure that all devices are behind a firewall.

  • Strong Passwords 

Use strong and unique passwords for all IoT devices and change them regularly. 

  • Regular Updates

Keep all IoT devices, including the firmware and software, up to date with the latest security patches and updates. 

  • Disable Unused Features 

Disable any features that are not being used, as they can be potential entry points for hackers. 

  • Device Management 

Implement a device management system that can remotely monitor, update and control IoT devices. 

  • Use a VPN

Using a virtual private network (VPN) can add an extra layer of security when connecting to the internet.

  • Use of intrusion detection system

Use of intrusion detection system can help you identify and unusual activity on the network.

  • Segmentation

Segmenting the network can help you limit the potential damage of a security breach. 

  • Conduct regular security audits 

Regularly conduct security audits to identify and fix vulnerabilities.

One example of a cyber-attack through IoT devices is the Mirai botnet attack, in 2016. The Mirai botnet infected many IoT devices, such as routers, camera, and DVRs, by exploiting their weak security. The botnet was then used to launch a massive DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack on the DNS provider Dyn. This resulted in major websites, such as Twitter, Netflix, and Reddit becoming inaccessible to users. This attack highlighted the vulnerability of IoT devices and the potential dangers they pose to the security of the internet. 

In conclusion, the Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionised the way we live and work by connecting a vast array of devices to the internet. However, with the increased connectivity comes an increased risk of security breaches and data breaches. It is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with IoT devices and take steps to mitigate them. This includes keeping devices and software updated, using strong passwords, and being cautious about the information we share online. Additionally, it is important to be aware of the privacy policies of the companies that produce the devices we use and to make sure that we are comfortable with the way our data is being used. By taking these steps, we can better protect ourselves and our devices from cyber threats and enjoy the many benefits of IoT technology.

Organisations should consider IoT monitoring for their devices, this helps to create visibility of potential attacks or threats in real time. Microsoft Defender for IoT enables you to secure your entire OT and Enterprise IoT environment, whether you need to protect existing devices or build security into new innovations.

If you are worried about the threat that you IoT devices could pose, or you are unsure on where to start contacting a cyber security specialist could be your first step in helping to ensure that your organisation is safer and better protected. At CyberCrowd we believe that cyber security is a journey that both individuals and organisations go on, the threat landscape is continually evolving which means that we must be too. If you have any questions or would like to know more about how you or your organisation could be doing more to protect your operations, please contact us today