There are over 8.4 billion internet-connected IoT devices across the world. Cisco predicts that every person will own 3.4 connected devices by 2020. With billions of connected devices in cyberspace, the concept of the internet of things has seen the light of the day. One of the biggest issues with the Internet of Things (IoT), though, is security and privacy, which is hindering its wider scale adoption.
To give you a better picture of how grave the circumstances are, here are some of the IoT statistics that will open your eyes. 90% of security professionals consider connected devices as the biggest security threat, 66% are not sure about how many connected devices there are in the environment, while 64% have reported a security breach in the last 12 months. All these stats point towards the dismal state of IoT in terms of security. However, things are about to take a turn for the better.
IoT Privacy and Security Issues
Before we go any further, let us take a moment to recap some of the biggest IoT security and privacy issues.
1. Data and Device Management
With billions of devices out there and tons of data being transmitted to and from devices, keeping all the data safe can be a daunting challenge for security professionals. Managing device addressing could pose another challenge, as it would entail acquiring a new protocol. The sheer number of devices will also render IPv6 obsolete. As a result, we will have to use different technologies for data and device management.
2. Vulnerability to Hackers
Security professionals are caught in a cat and mouse race with hackers. They are trying to get into the shoes of hackers and hack the IoT devices available in the market, just to cope with the hacker attacks. The best example, in this case, is of Microsoft. Microsoft researchers, in collaboration with the experts from the University of Michigan, recently found a number of security loopholes in the Samsung's SmartThings smart home platform. What is even more amazing is the fact that they managed to hack into the smart home platform by using simple techniques, which is enough to set alarm bells ringing.
Probably the most common security risk with IoT devices is of eavesdropping. Hackers can not only get access to your home but also invade it and do whatever they want simply by exploiting the vulnerabilities in a connected device. I am not talking about fantasy here, either. German researchers have successfully demonstrated that by intercepting unencrypted data from a smart meter device, they could leverage it to determine which TV show someone was currently watching. It is enough to send chills down anyone’s spine whose home is filled with connected devices.
Another common IoT security problem that has been affecting its widespread adoption is authentication. Authenticating billions of devices is not a piece of cake. Hackers are well aware of this fact, which is why they are always looking for opportunities to exploit authentication vulnerabilities in IoT devices. Although there is a lot of ongoing research to stop hackers from portraying themselves as genuine users and hijacking your IoT devices in tow, there is still a lot that needs to be done before this can become a reality.
How To Secure Your IoT Devices?
After highlighting the security issues with IoT devices, let us look at some ways to protect your IoT devices from attacks.
1. Keep Tabs On Connected Devices
First things first, before securing your IoT devices, it is important to know what is connected. An average home has five connected devices but we do not even realize it. Next, try to find out what information these connected devices have access to. This would be your first step towards securing your IoT devices. Do not keep all the devices connected at all times. Disconnect IoT devices that are idle.
2. Switch Off Universal Plug and Play (UPnP)
Although Universal Plug and Play is a very handy feature to have, it can also make your routers, printers, and cameras more vulnerable to attacks. It might save you from the cumbersome process of setting up and configuring devices but it poses bigger security risks. Hackers can easily discover and exploit the Universal Plug and Play vulnerability without even entering your network. It is better to turn it off from a security standpoint. A small compromise is always better than a big loss.
3. Keep Your Firmware Up to Date
Another effective way of minimizing the security risk of IoT devices is to keep the firmware installed on these devices updated. Additionally, install the latest security patches released by device manufacturers to prevent hackers from hacking into your IoT devices. Any delay in this regard opens up a window of opportunity for hackers to exploit, and this is what they have their eyes on. Some devices also come with an auto-update feature. If your device is equipped with one, turn it on and save yourself from the hassle of constantly updating firmware and installing security patches.
4. Use Separate and Strong Passwords For All Your Devices
You have received this advice many times. However, do you actually practice it regularly? Due to our careless attitude towards passwords, hackers find an easy access to our devices and accounts. Choose separate passwords for all your IoT devices and make sure you choose a strong password by following the standard guidelines. This will make it harder for hackers to guess your password and access your accounts and devices.
5. Create a Separate Network for IoT Devices
Instead of connecting all your IoT devices to the same network, it is better to create a separate network for it. Some routers let you set up a separate network. If your router has this feature, you should take advantage of it. Refer to the router manual and follow the instructions. The more you segment your networks, the more difficult it is for hackers to intrude into your network and get access to your data. You can also install a firewall. It can act as a gatekeeper and keep unwanted guests at bay.
Whether you are an Entrepreneur who is offering web design services or you are a digital agency, you need to be careful of the advancements of the IoT technology that is becoming increasingly necessary. To make sure that you stay on top of technology, you need to fix your issues starting right now.