Forecasters have predicted that 30.9 billion devices will be connected to the Internet of things (IoT) by 2025, as published by statista.com reports. While COVID-19 affected many businesses adversely, it proved to be a boon for IoT devices. The 2020 Microsoft IoT Signals Report reveals that COVID-19 accelerated the growth of IoT. The low cost of storing and computing data on the cloud, the falling price of sensors and chipset, internet connectivity and 5G, and increased adoption of smartphone and apps platforms ensure that we adopt embedded technology faster than ever. It won’t be long before IoT is integrated into all households and every basic application you see.
There is a rapid development of IoT-based devices, and companies are looking for ways to benefit from the advantages of IoT. However, like the advancement of any technology, IoT also brings an array of drawbacks.
IoT security is the act of securing and safeguarding the Internet of Things to prevent hackers from gaining access to sensitive information or ultimately compromise the network. Let us find out why there is an immediate need for IoT security.
Why Is IoT Security Important?
The IoT industry is poised to be at 1.1 trillion dollars by 2026, as published by statista.com reports; this large magnitude of growth in IoT also attracts cyberattacks. According to NETSCOUT’s Threat Intelligence Report from the second half of 2018, IoT devices are attacked within 5 minutes of being connected to the web. We are moving toward an era where everything in our life is being automated, and we depend more upon intelligent applications. Therefore, smart devices must be made safe and secure.
It’s not a lie that soon autonomous vehicles will make the road journey safer and lessen the risk of accidents caused by human error and that your smart fridge will automatically book your groceries from your favourite vendor when on sale. The bitter truth is that autonomous cars can save lives, and smart fridges can save money only when they are safe and secure from hackers, which appears unlikely without strict IoT security measures.
IoT Security in the Healthcare Industry
Not only in household appliances and autonomous vehicles, but IoT in healthcare is shaping every part of our life for the better; one such field is the healthcare industry. Healthcare equipment like a pacemaker connected to IoT could provide a real-time update on the patient’s health to the doctor; this would revolutionize the medical industry as we see it. The real problem is people are scared to wear these devices, as they fear that cyber criminals may gain access to it. This problem could be solved with robust security measures in place. IoT security would help bring the revolutionizing technology of smart and autonomous devices faster to the market. Therefore, IoT security is essential.
If cyber criminals gained access to your IoT devices, they could steal sensitive information like credit card details, name, address, etc. With this information, they could then steal money, commit a crime in your name, or worse. IoT devices connected to the organization’s network create a risk of cyber criminals gaining access to the network and compromising it. Thus, causing business disruption and loss to the company. Paolo Alto, in its 2020 Unit 42 IoT Threat Report shares, “98% of all IoT device traffic is unencrypted, exposing personal and confidential data on the network.“. 98% of unencrypted data is a feast for hackers to exploit. Companies must start to see how vital IoT security is and begin implementing rigorous steps to secure IoT devices.
5 Reasons Why You Need IoT Security
It is clear by now why it is necessary to take bold steps against cybercriminals to secure IoT devices. Some of the reasons why IoT security is important are:
To secure user data:
IoT devices generate a large amount of data that need to be protected and kept away from cyber criminals’ malicious intents.
To increase device protection:
Cyber criminals could manipulate IoT devices to cause physical harm to the consumer. This gets more dangerous with cyber criminals toying with smart power grids and industrial machines to cause physical harm in the business world. Robust IoT security measures will ensure this does not happen.
To maintain privacy:
The biggest concern is privacy. IoT devices have various sensitive data of the user, which cyber criminals can exploit and cause harm to the consumer.
To increase network security:
IoT devices are connected to the Internet. An infected IoT device connected to the company’s network could leverage the vulnerability to compromise other systems connected to the network. This exploitation is very dangerous for a company. This could leak sensitive information of the company and cause business disruption.
To increase trust:
IoT security will increase the trust of consumers in the new technology. More trust would mean easy adoption of the technology by the consumer. This will benefit companies to sell their product and increase their profit.
What Are the Risks Associated with IoT Security?
- Your IoT devices, in most cases, will be connected to your phone or laptop devices. Low-security measures in the IoT devices will result in cyber criminals gaining access to your sensitive data sent to the IoT device from your phone or laptop.
- Suppose the vulnerability of IoT devices connected to the consumer network is left unchecked. In that case, a cyber criminal could gain access to the IoT device and enter the network, thus compromising other systems in the network.
- IoT devices don’t have a regular security update like a computer has; hence the old software with vulnerability is breached. The compromised IoT device is turned into botnet zombies by attackers. This IoT botnet attack came to the limelight after the Mirai Botnet Attack of 2016, where almost the whole Internet was brought down with insecure IoT devices.
- Cyber criminals gaining access to the IoT device may cause the machine to malfunction and cause physical harm. This is very dangerous in a business setting with the industrial machine, smart power grids, etc., being hacked. It could cause the company to close or the government to fall.
IoT Privacy Issues
IoT data is predicted to grow to a large number of 73.1 ZB by IDC reports. From a privacy point of view, this is very dangerous. Loads of data, if unprotected, only mean cyber criminals have more data like your name, credit card number, address, etc., to steal. Unprotected IoT devices generating tons of data will only result in consumer network compromise causing harm to the company and individuals.
The cyber-criminal could infiltrate your privacy with the infected IoT devices. A compromised baby camera could monitor the camera feed. An infected smart wearable could send abrupt data to your doctor. An infected smart fridge could even compromise your home network. The danger of exploitation is unbound, and the need for IoT security is visible.
This privacy issue creates a fear in the customer’s mind. If customers fear the technology, they won’t adopt it. Therefore, companies need to bolster their IoT security programs to prevent security risks and strengthen consumer’s trust.
How Can We Improve Our IoT Security?
As much as 74% of global consumers are concerned that “small privacy invasions may eventually lead to a loss of civil rights,” reported in an EIU survey of consumers. It is concerning and rings an alarm bell for strict measures against data breaches and privacy risks. Some ways to secure the IoT devices to safeguard yourself from cyber criminals’ malicious intent are:
- Implementing software protection into IoT devices to safeguard the system from unauthorized access. Setting up password protection for the IoT device. Keeping the IoT devices packed with the latest updates and patches will protect IoT devices from cyber criminals.
- Creating a different network for IoT devices. It will keep the cyber criminals away from the leading network and safeguard sensitive information in the primary grid even if the IoT device is compromised.
- Hiring an Ethical Hacker to safeguard your organization. An Ethical Hacker is trained in setting up a firewall against cyber criminals trying to get access to the IoT device. Ethical Hackers know the latest vulnerability and loopholes in an IoT device that a cyber-criminal can exploit. They can identify the vulnerability and correct those in time.
With the advancement of technology, we have come to a future where autonomous and self-managing smart technology is becoming a reality. For example, Tesla’s autonomous cars are taking new leaps and making road journeys safer by minimizing human error. It is not far we would see IoT devices in all households. Every electronic device will communicate with each other make your life easier. Your car will drive you to your desired destination, and your fridge would order groceries for you from the Internet, smart factory equipment, smart home security system, etc. have already become a reality.
Yet, the vast amount of data IoT devices generates becomes a target for cybercriminals to exploit. These are the consumer’s credential like name, address, credit card detail, etc., in the IoT devices. Suppose the cyber-criminal hacks the IoT device. In that case, the consumer’s sensitive information will go into the cyber criminals’ hands, which will further be exploited to steal the consumer’s money and identity. Therefore, we need IoT security so cyber criminals do not compromise the network and IoT devices. To implement IoT securities, we need a trained, ethical hacker to oversee it. Ethical with the knowledge of the latest vulnerability that cyber criminals could exploit. An ethical hacker should also know the way to protect the organization against any such threat.