Top 5 IoT Security Threats and Risks to Prioritize

The IoT industry does not have a clear set of security standards for developers and manufacturers to build consistent security into, but security best practices do exist. IT administrators can find it difficult to track and update devices, which can remain in the field for many years.

Hackers scan networks for devices and known vulnerabilities and are increasingly using non-standard ports to gain network access. Once they have access to the device, it is easier to avoid detection via fileless malware or software memory on the device.

What is the IoT attack surface?

At its basic level, an attack surface is the total number of entry points for unauthorized access to the system. An IoT attack surface goes beyond entry points and includes all potential security vulnerabilities for IoT devices, connected software, and network connections.

The growing concern around the security of IoT devices includes the fact that threat actors can not only harm the network and software that support IoT devices, but also the devices themselves. Furthermore, the adoption of IoT devices is advancing at a faster rate than the processes and protocols that can provide secure and reliable connections.

There are steps organizations can take to protect the IoT attack surface, but these require the staff and technical expertise to establish policies that can proactively detect threats and also reactively apply measures to reduce the size of the attack surface. stroke.

Suggestions for reducing the attack surface and potential security risks

Top 5 IoT Security Threats Organizations Must Address

1. IoT botnets

After the big botnet attacks like Mirai in 2016, IoT developers, administrators and security officers will not forget to take steps to prevent this type of attack. Botnet orchestrators find IoT devices an attractive target due to weak security configurations and the number of devices that can be locked into a botnet used to attack organizations.

An attacker can infect an IoT device with malware via an unprotected port or phishing scams and co-opt it into an IoT botnet used to launch massive cyberattacks. Hackers can easily find malicious code on the Internet that detects susceptible machines or hides the code from detection before another code module signals devices to launch an attack or steal information. IoT botnets are frequently used for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks to overwhelm a target’s network traffic.

Detecting botnet attacks isn’t easy, but IT administrators can take several steps to protect devices, such as keeping an inventory of each device. Organizations must follow basic cybersecurity measures, such as authentication, regular updates and patches, and confirmation that IoT devices comply with security standards and protocols before administrators add them to the network. Network segmentation can isolate IoT devices to protect the network from a compromised device. IT administrators can monitor network activity for botnets and should not forget to plan for the entire device lifecycle, including end of life.

2. DNS threats

Many organizations use IoT to collect data from older machines that weren’t always designed with the latest security standards. When organizations mix legacy devices with IoT, they can expose the network to vulnerabilities from older devices. IoT device connections often rely on DNS, a decentralized naming system from the 1980s, which might not handle the scale of IoT deployments that can grow to thousands of devices. Hackers can use DNS vulnerabilities in DDoS attacks and DNS tunnels to obtain data or introduce malware.

IT administrators can ensure that DNS vulnerabilities do not become an IoT security threat with Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC). These specifications protect the DNS through digital signatures that ensure data is accurate and unmodified.

When an IoT device connects to the network for a software update, DNSSEC verifies that the update goes where it’s supposed to go without a malicious redirect. Organizations should update protocol standards, including MQ Telemetry Transport, and verify compatibility of protocol updates with the entire network. IT administrators can use multiple DNS services for continuity and an additional layer of security.

3.IoT ransomware

As the number of unsecured devices connected to corporate networks increases, so do IoT ransomware attacks. Hackers infect devices with malware to turn them into botnets that probe access points or look for valid credentials in the device’s firmware that they can use to enter the network.

With network access through an IoT device, attackers can leak data to the cloud and threaten to keep, delete, or make the data public unless a ransom is paid. Sometimes payment is not enough for an organization to get all of its data back, and ransomware automatically deletes the files anyway. Ransomware can affect essential businesses or organizations, such as government services or food suppliers.

4. IoT physical security

While it may seem unlikely that an IoT device will be physically accessed by attackers, IT administrators should not overlook this possibility when planning an IoT security strategy. Hackers can steal devices, open them and access internal circuits and ports to access the network. IT administrators should only deploy authenticated devices and only allow access to authorized and authenticated devices.

5. Shadow IoT

IT administrators can’t always control which devices connect to their network, creating an IoT security threat called shadow IoT. Devices with an IP address, such as fitness trackers, digital assistants, or wireless printers, can add personal convenience or help employees with work, but they don’t necessarily meet an organization’s security standards.

Without visibility into shadow IoT devices, IT administrators cannot ensure hardware and software have basic security capabilities or monitor devices for malicious traffic. When hackers gain access to these devices, they can use privilege escalation to access sensitive information on the corporate network or co-opt the devices for a botnet or DDoS attack.

IT administrators can implement policies to limit the threat of shadow IoT when employees add devices to the network. It is also important for administrators to have an inventory of all connected devices. They can then use IP address management tools or device discovery tools to track new connections, apply policies, and isolate or block unknown devices.

How to defend against IoT security risks

IT teams must take a multi-layered approach to IoT security risk mitigation. There are best practices and broader strategies that organizations can implement, but administrators must also have specific defenses in place for the different types of IoT attacks.

IoT security is a combination of policy enforcement and software to detect and address any threat. IT teams monitoring IoT devices must have strong password policies for any device on the network and use threat detection software to anticipate any potential attacks. The more visibility an IT team has into what data is on IoT devices, the easier it is to proactively spot security risks and threats.

Basic strategies IT administrators can use to prevent security attacks include device vulnerability assessments, disabling unnecessary services, regular data backups, disaster recovery procedures, network segmentation and network monitoring tools.

Data protection strategies are another way to boost IoT security. Although IoT implementations can be difficult to implement due to their decentralized nature, it helps to have an extra layer of security. IT teams can keep data safe with visibility tools, data classification systems, data encryption measures, data privacy measures, and records management systems.

For physical security measures, organizations must place devices in a tamper-evident case and remove any device information that manufacturers may include on parts, such as model numbers or passwords. IoT designers must bury conductors on the multilayer circuit board to prevent easy access by hackers. If a device is tampered with by a hacker, it must have a disabling function, such as a short circuit when it is opened.

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