The Internet of Things (IoT) is an emerging technology that involves physical objects with sensors, software, and technologies to connect and exchange data with one other through the internet or any other communication network. Though this technology is creating waves across the world, it is giving rise to many technical risks and threats. Novel strategies need to be devised to secure the massive amounts of data generated.

IT professionals report that 60 percent of the IoT devices are vulnerable to medium and high-level cyber attacks.1 As the IoT devices are interconnected to several other smart devices with sensors to collect, share and store data, hackers can exploit the system and hack the backend to access vital data across entire businesses.

To avoid this, organizations must implement security-by-design as they deploy IoT devices. Implementation of security designs in IoT products involves incorporating cybersecurity practices into product design as well as the environment in which the device is meant to be implemented.

IoT thus acts as a double-edged sword; it may be a boon but can also pose increased risks to businesses. The following top five are security risks that IoT poses;

1. Lack of proper security controls:

Even though most IoT devices are built with smart technology and sensors, there will be a lack of proper security controls. This may be because of the lack of capability of the device to patch up with the latest security updates automatically.

Most IoT devices lack basic encryption systems; even 95 percent of the IoT device’s data transactions are unencrypted.2 The lack of proper security on IoT devices creates a more significant threat to your business.

2. Threat to protection of sensitive data:

The sensors on IoT devices collect data without the knowledge of users. For example, the devices collect the data basis what users say around them or buy through their home or business networks. The user doesn’t need to be an expert to imagine how devastating it would be if any of this data were compromised through industrial espionage or eavesdropping.

Reports state that 71 percent of IoT devices at home networks are less secure than those used in business networks.3 The employees who work from home thus pose significant risks to their business through the usage of IoT devices on home networks.

3. Usage of default passwords:

Using default passwords and same credentials for all websites and devices proves to be an open invitation for hackers. Tricky passwords and high-end encryption is the only way to keep cyber threats away.

Cybercriminals easily exploit business networks by cracking default passwords, posing a big threat to businesses.

4. Lack of security training for the users:

The users working with IoT devices must be properly trained to ensure the reduction of threats and attacks. However, businesses need more tools to educate the users, and provisions should be made to provide a 360-degree level view on IoT devices.

Without adequate knowledge and training, users may lose vital data and credentials to hackers.

5. Ease of initiating and causing cyber attacks:

Most cybercriminals hack data without any difficulties, due to weakly encrypted data. About 72 percent of the businesses face attacks in endpoint and IoT originated attacks. Following are the most common routes through which a hacker may damage your business:

Botnet attacks: Hackers initiate botnets infected with malware to carry out acts such as credential leaks, unauthorized access, data theft, and DDoS attacks.

Denial-of-Service/Distributed Denial-of-Service (DoS and DDoS): The hackers during DoS and DDoS may initiate several requests, causing a system to slow down or at times to even shut down.

Malware: Malware is the more hazardous part of a cyber attack, that causes all IoT devices to malfunction. The hacker can exfiltrate data or turn the machines into botnets, and use them according to their commands.

Passive wiretapping/Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks: MITM attacks happen when an malicious actor intercepts the communication between the user and the application, transferring false data. This attack may put businesses into grave danger.

Structured Query Language injection (SQL injection): Inserting Malicious code through SQL commands to destroy database and alter user data on the device.

Wardriving attacks: The hackers analyze the unsecured wireless devices around them while on the move and use hardware or software to attack user data on the devices

Zero Day Vulnerabilities/Exploits: A zero-day vulnerability is a security software flaw that’s unknown to someone interested in mitigating the flaw ex: developer. A zero-day exploit is when hackers take advantage of a zero-day vulnerability to gain unauthorised access to data or system.

Strategies to curb cyber attacks:

IoT devices can ease your business, but using devices with accurate information and implementation secures your data from hackers and mitigates the possibility of a cyber-attack. The mentioned risks are a serious threat to businesses using IoT devices.

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