Introduction to IoT Security Challenges
With the advancements of technologies, almost infinite bandwidth and cheap data rates the IoT use cases are growing rapidly across domains. It is estimated that the IoT budget of Europe for 2020 will cross the mark of 240K Euros. Along with the increasing use cases the carriers also want to connect IoT suits with fast ready to market capabilities. These things altogether leave the major security loopholes behind. In this article, we will go through the major security challenges for IoT use cases.
Factors of IoT Security Challenges
As per the statistics, there are over 25 billion connected devices are active currently and the number may cross 100 billion in the upcoming decade. The major security loopholes of IoT systems are factors of the below variables.
1. Use of Default Password or Same Password for a Long Time
A lot of IoT devices are configured with an initial common password that is generic to the vendors. When these devices are hooked with an existing ecosystem, users sometimes leave the password unchanged. Alternatively without proper maintenance policy users set an initial password and forget. These practices make the whole system vulnerable to malware and other harmful software. Using a default username and password does not only compromise the IoT system, but also opens gates for a hacker to access the whole business network.
2. Improper Testing and Faster Ready to Market
IoT components and manufacturers are always interested to deliver their products as soon as possible (Ready to market). Traditional business leaders are more interested in solid proof of results and actionable insights as fast as possible. To cope up with the market needs in many cases vendors ignore proper testing and finding security loopholes in their systems. This may lead to compromise the security needs. These are the main reasons for which traditional sectors like Insurance and BFS which deal with sensitive data are still far away from using these systems.
3. Reusing Legacy Systems for IoT
The initial cost of setting and maintaining IoT infrastructure is too high. Also, there are sectors like telecom where the cost of legacy infrastructure is too high to completely replace with newer ecosystems. To maintain a balance between them, many times carriers go for reusing the legacy infrastructure for newer purposes. Though these legacy systems serve the purpose, they were not designed to cope up with modern security threats. This may lead the ill practitioners to gain illegal backdoor access to the organizational system.
4. Use of Multi-Device Systems and Cross-Platform Architectures
Industry grade IoT systems use various cross-platform technologies and tools in the technology stack. These multi vendors systems deal with dependency on security measures.
For example in a use case sensors data are used to capture the analog signals, these are converted to a digital signal by vendor system A, these data may be preprocessed by vendor system B and can be accessed the results via multiple systems like mobile, desktops, smart wearables, etc. These interdependencies can create vulnerability for the whole ecosystem.
Effects of IoT Security Breach
The loopholes of the IoT ecosystem may lead to the following problems for the business:
1. Losing Sensitive Information
IoT devices are incorporated in sectors like medical, Insurance, Banking, etc. Compromising these systems may leak the client’s medical information, banking or financial details to the black hat hackers.
2. Business Disruption
Due to the vulnerability of any node of the IoT ecosystem, hackers may obtain backdoor access to the whole business servers. Due to the dot net revolution, every business is now almost digitized. Partially compromised nodes can also lead to disruption of the whole business process.
3. Manipulating Information on the Go
As we discussed earlier, sensitive user information flow over the IoT nodes and connected hubs. Hackers can manipulate the information on the go which may lead to long-term effects. Suppose in a medical use case if the back door accessed application changes the health information, the actions also changed. Without proper supervision, which may lead to life-threatening challenges. Almost every IoT use case nowadays is integrated with machine learning compute engines. Feeding or manipulating wrong data to these systems also changes the actionable insights, which ultimately leads to loss of business.
Recommended Security Measures for IoT Systems
Now let’s discuss some recommendations for designing security layers for IoT applications:
- Encrypted Communication: In an IoT ecosystem, lower-level data are captured using sensors and other IoT endpoints that are connected to the gateways and compute engines. Vendors and middleware service providers need to provide end to end encryption while data is flowing through these layers. For example, Microsoft is working on deploying BitLocker encryption systems in their IoT platforms.
- State of the Art Firewalls and Malware Database: IoT vendors and carriers should engage the proper state-of-the-art firewall and anti-malware systems at various nodes and computation points.
- Periodic Upgrades and Authentications: In general IoT devices are connected to the network using one-time authentication. It is advisable that the periodic authentication policy is enforced instead of this.
In this article, we discussed the various security challenges and threats of an IoT use case. We have also gone through various measures that need to enforce in a stable ecosystem to minimize the risks. IoT ecosystems are still an active area of research and there is no standard framework that fits all of the IoT use cases.
This is a guide to IoT Security Challenges. Here we discuss the factors, effects, and recommended security measures for IoT. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –
- What is IoT Security?
- Classification of IoT Boards
- Classification of IoT Boards
- Firewall vs Antivirus