Top Security Challenges in the Internet of Things

Top Security Challenges in the Internet of Things

Wednesday 6th March 2019

The term Internet of Things has been floating around technological circles for quite a while now. The IoT visualizes a world with interconnected smart devices that are accessible to users with the help of a simple internet connection. The idea is revolutionary and is considered to be a viable option for the future, but it also brings with itself a different breed of challenges.

In 2016, the Mirai botnet launched a cyber attack that crippled global communication and took out a huge part of the internet including Twitter, Netflix, CNN, the Guardian, and Reddit. Once inside a machine, the infamous botnet searched the internet for vulnerable IoT devices and infected them using default passwords. This incident raised serious questions regarding security in the Internet of Things.

Below are the top security issues in the Internet of Things that must be addressed before adopting it on a large scale:

Default and Weak Passwords

The reason the Mirai botnet was able to efficiently hack a number of devices was the existence of default passwords on devices. Default or weak passwords are a chink in the armor for any security system and can be used to infiltrate and immobilize them. IoT aims to transform simple household devices into smart ones. Therefore, they must consider that these household items are most likely to be hosts to default and generic credentials, which will make these devices extremely vulnerable to hacking.

Multiple Points of Failure

Currently, the number of total IoT devices is estimated to be 23 billion. An interconnected system that hosts several of these devices can also be a ground for multiple points of failure. Without proper security measures, any such device can be an opportunity for hackers.

Data Privacy and Integrity

Since IoT and other smart devices function through continuous data collection, it is essential that significant steps are taken to ensure data privacy. Enveloping every household item into an interconnected system of devices can result in a serious privacy concern. Smart devices already work and improve their functionality by collecting user data. If anyone is able to infiltrate any those interconnected devices, they can be used to monitor a person's habits, behaviour, and routine.

Managing Updates

Experts suggest updating security definitions in devices. They say this is vital to the safety of software. Applying updates across distributed environments that support interconnected heterogeneous devices (which may operate on varying communication protocols) can be extremely challenging. Not all devices support updates without downtime and not all users are keen to appreciate anything that affects the availability of their device. Any IoT system must manage all such complications if it is to be widely accepted.

Detecting Security Issues

Despite best efforts, it is inevitable that your system can be compromised some day or time. The best way to deal with this issue is to set up mechanisms that detect any anomalies and establish procedures to respond to them. This can be achieved by engaging in penetration testing, inviting ethical hackers to expose any vulnerability that a system has or by implementing security intelligence and analysis.