by guest blogger Ralph Goodman, United Locksmith
The Internet of Things, or the IoT for short, is no longer just a developmental idea meant to bridge the gap between users and their various devices. It is now operating and functional in many different industries, which has led to the recent concern in security. Security is a big factor when it comes to the IoT, and this is mainly because of how much data and information is at stake if the Internet of Things is compromised.
The IoT is based on the unique concept that everyday devices can communicate and exchange data with one another. This makes complex actions much simpler and streamlines the hassle of managing so many electronic devices. This concept can already be seen taking shape in the form of smart homes, automation, smart grids, etc. They all deal with various devices and vast amounts of data being shared constantly on several different networks.
However, this treasure trove of data is not as secure as most people would like to think, and it is really easy to see why. The one thing that people never want to give burglars, hackers, and criminals, is an access point. The IoT isn’t a single organism, with one entry and one exit. There are so many different components that come together to make it, which automatically increases the chances of it being vulnerable at some point.
In order to properly address the security vulnerabilities of the IoT, one needs to take a look at what makes it vulnerable and then gradually tackle all its weak points. Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which the security flaws of the IoT can be addressed:
Security Vulnerabilities of the IoT
- Web/Mobile Interface Insecurities – The interface that consumers use to interact with the IoT and IoT devices plays a major role in security. If any of these interfaces is insecure, unauthorized parties will have easy access to your network. These interfaces are meant to screen what is given access to the network. However, in most cases, they offer minimal amounts of security and they can be easily bypassed. This is often done by means of username enumeration, exploiting weak credentials, and capitalizing on the lack of lockout protocols. A majority of IoT interfaces do not have any measures in place to prevent these.
- Lack of Authentication and Authorization Methods – Another major vulnerability the IoT has to deal with stems from the lack of proper authentication and authorization between devices on a network. If there are no adequate authorization methods in place, it is relatively easy for unauthorized users to exploit a device and make their way into an IoT network. Unauthorized access poses much more danger when it comes to IoT than anything else. This is due to the number of devices that are normally connected to an IoT network. If someone is able to successfully gain access to one of these devices, it increases the possibility that they can gain access to another.
- Privacy Concerns – Many users of the IoT have raised concerns about privacy issues, and this is mostly because of the vast amount of information that is relayed through the IoT. It is completely understandable that people might be skeptical about concerns for privacy, especially when there have already been concerns raised about the security of the IoT in general. IoT devices collect a vast amount of data on their users. This data ranges from users’ passwords to correspondence to habits and traits. The IoT is borderline intuitive and in order for it to be that way it relies on collecting a lot of data.
- Insecure Software – It is important that the software powering integral parts of the IoT is as secure as possible. If the software is not performing in optimal conditions, it increases the chance of someone taking advantage of it. In most cases, the software is vulnerable on two fronts. First, if the software does not have the ability to update automatically or remotely, it will pose a major problem for whichever IoT network it is on. Also, the software that powers some of these devices tends to have hard coded data on hand (passwords etc.), which will then become easily accessible by unauthorized users.
- Poor Physical Security – Physical security also impacts the IoT in a huge way. The physical security of IoT devices is meant to ensure that your device is not a liability because it is easy for someone to gain access to the device and compromise security protocols. Cybersecurity and physical security are meant to go hand in hand in order to provide a complete security package. Although, it is often the case that the physical security measures that IoT devices employ are not really up to par with how valuable they are.
Addressing Security Vulnerabilities
If any of these vulnerabilities are left untreated, there is always the possibility that it will lead to IoT networks being compromised. Here are some of the ways in which they can be addressed:
- In order to mitigate the insecurities of the web and mobile interfaces, it is important to ensure that passwords and usernames are changed on a regular basis. In addition to this, it is also best to have protocols in place that will prevent your credentials from being accessed or viewed by unauthorized parties. It also helps to have a web/mobile interface that prompts you when you use a password that is susceptible to being bypassed.
- The flaws of authentication and authorization methods are usually remedied by stringent end-to-end or two-factor encryption protocols. It is also important to make sure that there are different levels and tiers of authentication set in place to decrease the chance of anyone exploiting the network. This can be done by requesting authentication at the application level (where the user engages with it), the server level and the device itself. There are many users who choose to use stronger firewalls and other security methods to ensure that the data being sent and received are properly vetted.
- To ensure that the IoT does not make your privacy a liability, it is important to pay close attention to the kind of settings that you grant and give to your IoT devices. It is crucial to make sure that your devices are only storing and exchanging data that is necessary for their core functionality. It is also important to make sure that the data stored is properly encrypted and that only authorized users will have access to it. This goes hand in hand with the point mentioned above.
- The software should be updated on a regular basis to make sure that it is utilizing the necessary security protocols and to also make sure that any software/firmware patches have been properly applied. The IoT industry should also look into making sure that the update servers are secure so that hackers do not use this as a point of access with which they can then exploit several IoT devices.
- In order to ensure that physical security is not a vulnerability, it is best to make sure that no one can tamper with the device. This means employing stringent security around your device so that the storage cannot be accessed. Also, it is best to make sure that no one can use USB devices to compromise your storage medium and also ensuring that no one can easily take it apart. If your device does not have the adequate security capabilities, then make sure that you talk with a professional locksmith or security advisor to see which other methods you can employ.
The IoT is definitely something that we will continue to hear more about for years to come, but in order to ensure its continued success, issues of its security need to be put to rest. If the proper security measures are followed the IoT will be much more effective than it is now, and many more users will have faith in the way it works and executes commands. The biggest mistake the IoT industry can make is to pay no mind to the security of this ingenious idea. In order for the IoT to reach its full potential, its security flaws have to be recognized and corrected. I hope that these points listed above help IoT users understand what they can do to help keep their Internet of Things networks more secure.