7 Common Internet of Things (IoT) Attacks that Compromise Security

Technology is ever-evolving, and these days the Internet of Things or IoT phenomenon is expanding its presence swiftly. By the end of 2022, its market is anticipated to expand by 18% to 14.4 billion active connections

Although there’s a global supply chain issue (including chip shortages) due to COVID-19, the market is still expected to grow to 27 million active Internet of Things devices by 2025.

As much as this growth excites business owners and users, it’s also crucial to understand how these devices are vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Thus, this blog aims to educate you about 7 common Internet of Things attacks that compromise security. What does the Internet of Things mean? Read on for answers, examples, common IoT attacks, and ways to prevent them.

What is the Internet of Things?

So, how do we define the Internet of Things or IoT? It’s a technical phenomenon that refers to various everyday devices like thermostats, automobiles, refrigerators, door locks, cameras, fitness trackers, wifi routers etc. connecting to the internet or other wireless communication networks.

Basically, the IoT encompasses all physical devices or ‘things’ that connect and exchange data using sensors, software, networks, the internet, etc.

This wireless connectivity is how the Internet of Things helps businesses. With IoT applications, companies can streamline procedures in various operational areas, including manufacturing, supply chain, sales, marketing, etc.

Smart sensors can track assets, IoT apps can control machinery, and IoT smart devices can gather data—the use cases are endless, and help reduce wastage, optimize processes, and cut costs

Examples of the Internet of Things 

Here are a few real-life applications that will help you understand what the IoT is.

Smart Home

A smart home is a famous application of the Internet of Things as it’s relatively pocket-friendly. Amazon Echo, one of the best examples of the Internet of Things, is a compact smart speaker that plays news and music, answers questions via the internet, sets alarms, turns lights on/off, etc.

Smart Wearables

Smart wearables like a watch can do much more than just tell time. You can send messages, take phone calls, play music, count steps, view social interactions, and much more. Smart rings, smart helmets, and smart earphones are some more examples of devices working on IoT technology.

Smart Cities

The Internet of Things also solves issues related to traffic congestion, road safety, sanitization, street lighting, theft, pollution, etc.

Connected Vehicles

IoT vehicles can connect with devices over wireless networks. These cars offer onboard wifi connectivity in addition to functions like remotely locking/ unlocking the door, opening the sunroof, or starting/stopping the engine. The geo-fencing features alert the car owner if drivers have crossed a set boundary. This is also useful for taxi and commercial truck owners.

What Makes IoT Vulnerable?

A typical IoT device has no security features beyond a default password. This security oversight allows remote attackers to control an entire system by exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities. 

The more ways devices can connect, the more opportunities there are for cybercriminals to exploit. So, IoT vulnerabilities also include non-internet weaknesses, like those found among bluetooth devices.  

IoT devices are considered the weakest element in a wireless system, allowing hackers to enter a network, control computers, or even spread malware. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Lack of security software: The majority of IoT devices don’t have the capabilities to incorporate antivirus or firewall protection. So, they’re easily exploited.
  • Lack of cybersecurity awareness: The modern era has seen an ever-growing number of industries turn digital. But the reliance on inherently vulnerable IoT devices is in itself a major cybersecurity flaw that many companies ignore—and threat actors exploit.
  • Large attack surface: The wireless connections among IoT devices represent a wider attack surface, with countless entry points that hackers can access remotely.

Common IoT Attacks

Since most Internet of Things devices are built for simple tasks, no strong security procedures are used in them. Malicious actors take advantage of these weak security standards to attempt one of the following common Internet of Things attacks. 

Eavesdropping

Hackers monitor victims’ networks through IoT devices and covertly collect sensitive data, including bank details and login credentials. They can even hear a conversation going on in a room by sitting at a location in close proximity. 

For example, you may not realize that someone having coffee in a cafe near your house can spy on your conversations by exploiting an IoT-enabled smart device in your room. 

This happens by exploiting unsecured or weakly secured networks on which such devices run. 

Privilege Escalation Attack

Learning everything about the internet of things is essential as professional hackers can attack operating systems as well. They exploit unpatched weaknesses or zero-day vulnerabilities in IoT devices to escalate privileges to the admin level and take full control over the system. 

Brute Force Attack

Almost 84% of organizations use IoT devices, but only 50% have deployed proper security measures, including regularly changing passwords. Default, unchanged, and weak passwords allow cyberactors to attempt brute force attacks. They use the trial-and-error method to break passwords with all possible combinations and enter into systems, accounts, or networks. 

So, the weaker or older your password is, the easier it gets for attackers to crack it. 

Malicious Node Injection

Cybercriminals inject malicious scripts between legitimate nodes to access data exchanged between linked nodes. This is generally possible because nobody monitors IoT devices. 

Firmware Hijacking

With so many IoT devices, brands, and products firmware hijacking is a major concern. Bad actors send victims fake update notifications with corrupted links. These links redirect users to a malicious website, asking to submit personal details or infect systems with malware.

DDoS

Lately, the number of Distributed-Denial-of-Service or DDoS attacks has soared significantly. The goal is to hit a single server through multiple devices. Hackers use botnet malware to attempt a DDoS attack through infected or “zombified” IoT devices.

Physical Tampering

IoT devices like cars can be accessed from the outside because there’s no control over who can touch them in an open environment. So, attackers establish a foothold through physical tampering to execute a targeted attack.

Minimize the Risks for IoT Devices

After understanding what the Internet of Things or IoT is, companies should educate their employees about the preventive measures listed below.

Think about Security Early

IT companies designing and manufacturing Internet of Things devices should enhance security standards right from the development phase. Default security features protect operating systems and avert the entry of malware. 

Implement Public Key Infrastructure and Digital Certificates

Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) protects client-server connections installed between various devices. It encrypts and decrypts crucial data and interactions between networks using digital certificates used for cryptography. 

Implementing PKI and digital certificates protects users by hiding text information they directly enter into websites during confidential transactions. 

Password-Protect

Enable a password protector on all IoT devices. A strong password has at least 12 characters with a combination of upper and lower case numbers and special characters. 

Always use unique passwords for each device and account. Also, don’t set guessable passwords like your pet’s name, birth date, street address, favorite food joint, etc. 

Setup Physical Protection

Threat actors can steal devices and crack them open to manipulate circuits, ports, and chips. At times, stickers are pasted inside device cases with default passwords that allow them to breach systems easily. 

You can physically protect devices by placing them in a locked case. You must also use measures to cover their ports as they are most vulnerable to being a gateway for the Internet of Things attacks.

Harden the Network and API security

Network security is possible using anti-malware, antivirus, firewall, and other security software. You should disable port forwarding and ensure ports are closed when not in use. 

Application Programming Interface or API security also protects data exchanged between IoT devices and back-end systems. It allows only authorized entities to access it.

Final Thoughts

You can’t overlook the security of IoT devices as hackers can use them to attempt different types of cybercrimes like malware attacks, password breaching, DDoS attacks, etc. 

As more and more businesses rely on smart technology, the number of attack opportunities rises. Protect your organization, employees, vendors, and customers by implementing robust IoT security protocols and preventive measures.

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