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Safeguarding the Connected World: 5 Serious Hazards of IoT Devices and Tips to Secure Them

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    April 21, 2023
Safeguarding the Connected World: 5 Serious Hazards of IoT Devices and Tips to  Secure Them

From improving operational efficiency to enhancing customer experiences, IoT devices have become an integral part of the infrastructure for many B2B businesses. However, with the increased connectivity and data exchange, the security of IoT devices has become a big concern. The risks associated with these devices have surged in recent years, posing potential threats to sensitive data, intellectual property, and overall business operations.

Statistics at a glance:

• 98% of traffic generated on these IoT devices is not encrypted.

• 48% of businesses fail to detect IoT security breaches on their network.

• 66% of businesses have experienced targeted attacks.

• 61% of businesses have faced smishing attacks, 54% of vishing attacks, and 54% of attacks via USB media.

[Statistics Source: Webinarcare]

These statistics indicate the magnitude of the risks associated with IoT devices. In this blog, we will discuss those risks, understand the reasons behind them, and explore security solutions that businesses can implement.

What Are the Risks Associated with IoT?

Data Breaches: With the large amount of sensitive data that IoT devices collect and transmit, data breaches are a major concern. Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in IoT devices to gain unauthorized access to critical business data, resulting in significant financial and reputational damage. These vulnerabilities could be weak authentication ( e.g., east-to-guess passwords), lack of encryption (i.e., data transmitted in plain text), and inadequate security protocols (e.g., outdated software or firmware).

Physical security risks: IoT devices installed in remote or uncontrolled environments may be at risk of physical tampering or theft, leading to disruption of operations or loss of valuable assets. This could occur in scenarios where devices are not adequately secured or monitored, making them vulnerable to theft or unauthorized manipulation.

Risk of misconfiguration and neglect of security updates: Misconfiguration of IoT devices, such as using default settings or not applying security updates, can leave them vulnerable to exploitation. Additionally, neglecting to apply timely IoT device security updates could expose devices to known vulnerabilities, increasing the risk of security breaches.

Compromised devices: Compromised IoT devices serve as a launching pad for malware propagation within a business's network. Hackers can manipulate or disrupt these devices, causing them to malfunction, perform unintended actions, or shut down completely. This can disrupt business operations, impact productivity, and result in financial losses. Hackers can also use these devices to form botnets to perform various malicious activities, such as launching DDoS attacks, spreading malware, or conducting other cyber-attacks.

Lack of Standard Protocols: From industrial equipment such as machinery, motors, and generators to Point-of-Sale devices to sensors, everything can be connected with IoT. Each device has its own protocol that it follows to connect to the internet. As a result, there are chances of compatibility and interoperability issues, which in turn put your device at risk.

What Businesses Can Do to Ensure the Security of IoT Devices?

Keep Firmware and Software Updated: These updates help businesses address known vulnerabilities, protect against emerging threats, and ensure device performance and reliability. They also help businesses comply with industry regulations, manage vendor support and warranties, and prevent the exploitation of known vulnerabilities by cyber criminals. By proactively applying updates, businesses can minimize the risk of security breaches, demonstrate their commitment to cybersecurity best practices, and ensure the continued functionality and security of their IoT infrastructure.

Set a Strong Authentication Mechanism: Strong authentication mechanisms, such as multi-factor authentication and certificate-based authentication, are essential to ensure the security of IoT devices.

Encryption: Whether the data is at rest (i.e., stored on the device) or in transit (i.e., transmitted over the network), ensure that sensitive information remains confidential and untouched by hackers. HTTPS, SSL, or TLS are popular encryption methods to encrypt data transmitted between IoT devices and other devices or servers.

Utilize security tools: Firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion detection systems (IDS), are a few must-have security tools in the bucket of every business. These tools add an extra layer of protection to IoT devices and networks.

Implement physical security measures: The security of IoT devices is not only impacted by cyberattacks but also physical attacks since these devices are easy to conceal. Implement physical security measures, such as tamper-evident seals, security cameras, and access control to reduce the risk of physical tampering or theft of these devices.

Segment your network: Segregate your IoT devices from your main network by creating a separate guest network or VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network). This can prevent unauthorized access to your main network in case of a security breach in an IoT device.

Cybersecurity is a must: Raising awareness among employees about the importance of cybersecurity and providing regular training can help prevent human error-related security breaches. Educating employees about best practices, such as not sharing passwords or clicking on suspicious links, can mitigate the risk of security incidents.

Conclusion

No doubt, IoT devices offer numerous benefits, but they also come with inherent risks which if not mitigated at the right time will cost money and data loss. By following the security solutions for protecting the IoT devices installed on-premises, businesses can effectively minimize the risk of hacking or other threats. Remember to always stay vigilant and proactive in protecting your IoT infrastructure.

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