IoT Security Weaknesses: Networks, Development & Users

December 30, 2020

There are many threats to IoT security. But among the ugly attacks, there’s good news.

How do Hackers Access IoT?

Hackers target IoT with malicious attacks. These include but are not limited to:

  • Magnetic field attacks – electromagnetic interference that corrupts system memory.
  • Malware insertion – malicious software that is used to grant device access to the attacker.
  • Counterfeit tampering – products sold by third parties labelled and designed as legitimate but contain chips with malicious software that once utilized work as malware insertion.

While firewalls, anti-virus software and other defenses exist to protect against malicious attacks, Hackers can easily infiltrate IoT due to oversight.

Network Oversight

  • Lack of security updates – devices aren’t regularly updated and operate without the most robust security.
  • Lack of system monitoring – systems aren’t continuously monitored for security breaches, allowing an attack to go undetected.
  • Lack of robust authentication settings – logins without multiple barriers to hackers through multi-step authentication.
  • Lack of security evolution knowledge – devices are developed with outdated and vulnerable software protections.
  • Insecure data transfer and storage – data isn’t encrypted and is easy for hackers to access.

Development Oversight

  • Hardware exploitation – hardware that is easily dismantled to exploit the software inside it or contains unsecured device ports accessible to hackers.
  • Default authentication settings – products shipped with default authentication settings that users might not change and hackers can discover and exploit.
  • Debug interfaces – meant for internal use but improperly disabled and included in the final product design, which attackers can exploit.

User Oversight

  • User errors – device users and employees are uninformed about security risks and their role in prevention.
  • Weak, guessable or hardcoded passwords – login information that is easy for hackers to guess.

What Can Hackers Do with IoT?

While attacks and oversight are bad, things get even uglier once IoT has been infiltrated:

  • Data Theft – a hacker steals confidential or proprietary information or data.
  • Remote Recording – a hacker records from a device’s camera or microphone to obtain data or privacy information.
  • Ransomware – a hacker encrypts device data and requests a ransom to decrypt it.
  • Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks – a hacker overloads a system with too many requests, slowing down or disabling a service and harming a business’s reputation.
  • Man in the Middle – a hacker sends false communications between devices or systems, leading to malfunction.

Preventing Cyberattacks

No user of IoT should think themselves above an attack. Just recently, Advantech, an IoT chip manufacturer, reported data theft by ransomware. Nokia released a 2020 report revealing 33% of over 150 million monitored world-wide IoT devices have been infiltrated by hackers. And researchers predict increased DoS attacks on IoT in 2021.

Fortunately, there’s good news. Cybersecurity laws are expected to rise around the world, enforcing security standards across industries. Cybersecurity training for manufacturers and users can help reduce oversight and make access to IoT more difficult for hackers. As the world turns its eye toward cybersecurity and its weaknesses, the future of IoT holds promise in developing further security standards and techniques.