Chances are that you have been bombarded with the term “IoT (The Internet of Things)” for a numerous number of times if you have been surfing around the Internet or even watching videos on YouTube. Remember how convenient it was the last time you could turn down the volume of your favorite TV show just by your voice? Or do you like your smart watch that keeps you posted on every step you take and every beat your heart makes? If yes, you’re more than familiar with IoT and its applications already. 

Estimates suggest that there are a surprising number of over 20 billion IoT devices as we speak today, more than the number of humans on the planet. 

Most people are leveraging this cutting-edge technology every day without even knowing that they’re doing it. It is okay if people do not know that they use IoT more than they think they do, but the problem is what if these so-called “SMART DEVICES” took the data the customers entrust them with for granted? This blog talks about the pressing need of strong IoT security, and how it is at the bottom of most challenges and vulnerabilities encountered in the realm of IoT as you read this blog.  

The Expanding IoT Threat Landscape 

The Internet of Things (IoT) encapsulates a growing network of physical gadgets, automobiles, and appliances that are always linked to the Internet. As part of its mechanism, IoT gathers and shares data, creating new possibilities for individuals and businesses alike. Not matter how irresistible the benefits they bring to the table, IoT and industrial IoT still pose pressing security risks that every organization and individual should be aware of. Recently, we have seen notorious botnets such as Mirai and Meris made up of inadequately safeguarded IoT endpoints being used by attackers to carry out devastating assaults that shocked the world.  

Research conducted by one of the largest US multinational telecommunications conglomerates hints at a possibly major risk to enterprises, governments and public data due to exposed and poor cybersecurity in the world of IoT industry.  

We have also seen IoT being used as part of sensitive industrial control systems, putting people’s lives in jeopardy. Moreover, we have all heard stories of ominous IoT-embedded dolls and other kids toy that attackers have taken advantage of to eavesdrop and breach privacy. 

Most Common IoT Vulnerabilities 

IoT is transforming the manner in which companies move forward with their businesses and individuals make use of devices they are connected on. From smart thermostats to self-driving cars, IoT is making all aspects of life smarter and more efficient. As they say with opportunities come challenges, IoT brings potential threats and risks that organizations must be aware of. Here are some major challenges and risks most companies face that should not be overlooked: 

Insecure and susceptible communications 

A major concern with IoT is the lack of secure communication. Data sent between devices can be accessed by unauthorized third parties, thus allowing them to gain access to confidential information, like passwords or financial details. As the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes more widespread in several business sectors, so do cyber-attacks. For instance, let’s say there is a connected car with smart technology. Cyber-crooks could access it and turn off certain safety regulations and compliance. This could go wrong in so many ways. It is always a best practice to ensure your IoT devices are only paired and connected with trusted and reliable apps and third parties who can be held accountable for data they collect and store. 

Lack of IoT security updates 

Just like smartphones or any personal computer, IoT devices need updates for better performance, bug fix and enhanced security. However, most manufacturers often delay working on releasing security patches and updates. As a result, most common IoT devices such as voice assistants, smart home automation systems become easy targets for cyber-criminals and hackers to spy on the data these devices collect. There have been several cases in the past that remind us how paramount security and privacy is in the IoT industry.  

Here is one of the notorious cases that clearly have cast aspersions on the respective brands: In 2017, Spiral Toys Inc, a California-based smart toy manufacturer, was severely denigrated by media and public for making its database, which had over 2 million parents and kids leaked messages, accessible to hackers and cyber-criminals. What we see with Spiral Toys is nothing but a breach of trust with consumers of IoT, smart toys.  

Weak password policies 

According to DataProt, in 2019, 23 million online accounts were still using the password 123456, name@123 and passwords that are easy to crack using birthdays and last names. 

Setting up a strong password for any type of device or account on a social media platform is not many people’s forte. As we live in a digital era, passwords play an important role when it comes to security and confidentiality. It is the elder people who become victims of cyber-attacks, as they are most likely to set up passwords that are easy to guess for cyber-criminals. 

If you’re still using passwords like “ilovemymom” “guessmypassword” and your birth dates and family names, it is time you try random password generator on the Internet, which could be of better help if you cannot come up with strong passwords on your own. Moreover, if your lights and washing machines can share data and work with you being away from home, it is really a disgrace for humans to still rely on the above-mentioned passwords.  

Hacking your network and launching a ransomware attack  

Hacking any device needs internet, and IoT is completely relied on the internet. Most cyber-criminals are aware of the fact that most IoT users are not up-to-date with their security parameters, so it is most likely you that says “make yourself at home” to the unknown cyber-criminal who might live right next door to you or probably from Russia, sipping a hot cup of tea scanning through your data with a smirk on his face. Once they get access to any one of your IoT device, it becomes easier for cyber-criminals to bring your entire digital well-being to a halt. Ransomware attacks are the most common type of cyberattacks millions of businesses and individuals become victims to. 

With all of the benefits IoT offers, there are some challenges that need to be checked 

There is little to no question that IoT continues to be one of the dominant technologies that have created a paradigm shift in ways business and consumers interact with each other. Not only does it help create a convenient and effortless business and living environment but also a focal part of the digital transformation the entire world is vying for. Regardless of the number of ransomware attacks that affect millions of people and businesses across the world, many firms and consumers have still not considered the necessity of upgrading their IoT security systems. Now that you know how vulnerable IoT devices are, you should take the right steps to protect your data against cybercriminals and invest in strong security systems that can thwart cybercriminals.