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The Biggest Cybersecurity Challenges for the Internet of Things

by | Oct 31, 2022 | BLOG

The Internet of Things is now a part of our reality, making it possible to connect items used in everyday life with minimal human intervention and optimize the performance of equipment through connectivity.

This concept is present in the video surveillance cameras we access from our mobile phones and in the smart TVs we connect to the internet.

However, despite making our lives easier, IoT devices bring a number of challenges when it comes to cybersecurity, as we will discuss in this article. To facilitate your reading, we divided our text into the following topics:

  • After All, What Is the Internet of Things?
  • What Is the Importance of IoT?
  • Cybersecurity Challenges Faced by the Internet of Things
  • Three Measures to Increase Cybersecurity on IoT Devices
  • Other Challenges Created by IoT Beyond Cybersecurity
  • About senhasegura
  • Conclusion

Enjoy the reading!

After All, What Is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a concept referring to the connection and interaction between the internet and different items we use daily.

In this context, objects have several purposes and can be used in numerous ways. This is the case with a video surveillance camera, which can be monitored remotely from online tools, as well as with smart TVs connected to streaming services.

IoT has the potential to make people’s lives easier by optimizing equipment performance through connectivity. 

Applied in traffic, IoT enables the interaction between vehicles, informing about the existence of traffic jams or preventing accidents. In the home environment, it can be applied in a refrigerator, which would inform about the lack of any product.

What Is the Importance of IoT?

IoT makes it possible to connect items used in our routines to the internet, with minimal human intervention for several processes. This is possible using low-cost computing, big data, cloud solutions, mobile technologies, and advanced analytics.

With the Internet of Things, we can improve the performance of objects used in our routines, such as automobiles, baby monitors, and household appliances in general.

IoT can also be applied in the industrial context, generating more efficiency and productivity.

Cybersecurity Challenges Faced by the Internet of Things

The development and application of IoT can bring numerous benefits, but it also represents major challenges related to information security. Some of them are:

  • Lack of Encryption

Encryption is an efficient feature to prevent malicious agents from accessing data. However, in the context of IoT, traditional processing and storage tools are used, which results in an attack increase in which malicious agents are able to change algorithms used for protection.

  • Increased Attack Surface

IoT devices increase the risk of cyberattacks by malicious users, as many have vulnerabilities such as unpatched software and unchanged default password.

In 2021, a case of considerable repercussion happened. An English couple installed a baby monitor in their 15-month-old son’s room and the device was invaded by a stranger, who was talking to the baby. In 2018, hackers accessed the network of a casino in the United States, using the IoT thermometer of a local fish tank.

One of the causes of vulnerabilities when it comes to the Internet of Things is that most people do not act as if their devices present risks and should be protected as computers and mobile phones.

  • Insufficient Tests that Cause Security Issues

With the demand increase for IoT devices, manufacturers of these products started to produce a lot in a short time, which hinders the performance of tests and updates to identify and correct possible security vulnerabilities.

  • Weak Passwords

Due to the difficulty of remembering passwords, many people still use weak passwords for various purposes, including accessing their IoT devices.

As a result, information security is compromised and devices are vulnerable to intrusion.

  • Malware and Ransomware

With the increase in the number of devices, this type of attack tends to increase as well. In the case of ransomware, encryption is used to block users’ access to devices and also steal data to demand ransom payments.

Moreover, a study performed by Zscaler identified that decoders, smart TVs, and smartwatches are the devices with the highest chance of being invaded by a malware attack, which allows for collecting data and changing their capabilities. 

Another problem is that the devices can be infected with viruses. Therefore, manufacturers must ensure the security of the software. 

  • Risk to the Crypto Market

Hackers can interfere with the value and creation of cryptocurrency codes due to vulnerabilities in the application development process, generating a huge risk for this market. 

  • Limited Security Features

Many IoT devices have limited security features. Thus, they present poor access control, lack of patches and regular updates, and technical limitations. Thus, they do not perform fundamental functions to ensure cybersecurity. 

Also, many manufacturers do not take the security aspect into account in the development of their products. This is what we call security by design.

  • Unsecure Communication Networks

Much of the security mechanisms have been developed for computers and mobile phones and are unlikely to be deployed on IoT devices with the required efficiency, as they rely on limited resources. 

In this context, one of the biggest threats consists of man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks, which are performed by hackers to control a device that does not feature effective authentication and encryption tools. 

With this, malicious agents can change the functionality of the device and install malware. 

Devices connected to other devices may also have their information captured if it works by sending text messages. In addition, connected devices can be impacted by attacks on other devices. 

  • Access to Confidential Data

When a hacker captures unencrypted messages from an IoT device, they can access sensitive information such as banking data, health records, and location. 

Moreover, it is not just the data from the devices that are vulnerable, but everything inserted in the environment in which they are connected, whether it is their own infrastructure or a cloud.

Another possible cause of data leaks is related to third-party services, such as when a company makes information from its users available to other companies. 

  • Cyberattacks

 IoT devices can be targeted by cyberattacks, such as:

  • Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks

The processing capacity of IoT devices is limited. Therefore, they are susceptible to denial-of-service attacks. This is done through a high volume of fake traffic, which compromises your ability to respond to legitimate requests. 

  • Denial-of-Sleep (DoSL) Attacks

To continuously monitor the environment, sensors connected to a wireless network are often powered by batteries that do not require constant charging.  To preserve its energy, simply keep the device in sleep or standby mode, depending on the need for use.

However, hackers can exploit the vulnerabilities of access control to the environment (MAC), undermining the power of batteries, in order to deactivate these sensors. 

  • Falsification of Devices

Incorrect implementation of digital signatures and encryption on a device allows for falsification. This is what happens when a bad public key is used by malicious agents to disrupt Internet of Things deployments. 

  • App-based Attacks

Security flaws in the firmware or software of the device used in embedded systems or vulnerabilities in cloud servers or back-end applications generate this type of attack. 

  • Physical Intrusion

Most attacks occur remotely. However, the theft of a device may facilitate tampering with its components. 

  • Lack of Management and Training

Finally, other cybersecurity challenges related to the Internet of Things are: the lack of proper device management, the lack of training of the teams that operate them, and the lack of proper access management to change settings, since devices do not even have access control mechanisms most of the time.

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Three Measures to Increase Cybersecurity on IoT Devices

Here are some steps you can take to protect your IoT devices:

  • Count on Up-to-Date Data Analysis Processes

Maintaining the security of your company’s IoT devices requires investing in data analysis processes capable of identifying network security issues and failures. 

These analysis and monitoring tools should be used in a preventive manner and not only after the attack has occurred.

With optimal resources, your IT team can establish security criteria that prevent cyberattacks through real-time information. 

  • Use Solutions Based on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

One of the capabilities of artificial intelligence is to provide security to IoT devices. Combining this feature with machine learning, one can detect security flaws and threats and anticipate cyberattacks.

With these solutions, you can obtain information from all connected devices, cross-reference data, identify behavioral patterns, and make predictions based on the information collected. 

  • Create Efficient Action Plans

It is possible to use data collection and analysis tools in order to develop assertive action plans, which make it possible to prevent and respond to cyberattacks. 

With this information, managers have visibility into all operations and can make the best decisions when investing in information security.

However, systems must be kept up to date, and it is critical to monitor IoT devices so that they do not become security flaws. 

Other Challenges Created by IoT Beyond Cybersecurity

In addition to cybersecurity, the Internet of Things has other challenges. These are:

  • Lack of Regulation

Government regulation takes time to keep up with advances in technology. In the case of IoT, the lack of regulation poses a security risk, which may worsen as more internet-connected devices emerge.

For this reason, many experts are requesting strong and universal security standards for IoT devices.

  • Compatibility Issues

New technologies often present numerous competitors competing in the market, and with IoT, it is no different. With this, consumers have more options, but compatibility issues are also generated.  

One of the compatibility standards for IoT devices is Bluetooth, but in home MESH networks, protocols such as Zigbee and Z-Wave are also used.

One of the factors that ensure continued compatibility for IoT devices is their update and fix, which is not always accomplished, causing performance issues and security vulnerabilities when these devices need to communicate. 

  • Limited Bandwidth

As the IoT market grows, experts are concerned about bandwidth-intensive usage, as with more devices connected, they will soon struggle to support the load.

Therefore, IoT companies should examine their IoT connectivity providers and choose one that offers good service and innovation. 

  • Failures on IoT Devices

When it comes to IoT devices, manufacturers need to deal with customer expectations, who will not hesitate to switch suppliers if they are frustrated. For this reason, these companies must be prepared to avoid failures and offer the best experience to users.

About senhasegura

Our goal is to provide digital sovereignty to our customers. For this, among other technologies, we use the senhasegura PAM Core solution, which protects IoT devices by managing their credentials. 

Thus, we discover credentials on IoT devices, allowing their automatic rotation. Moreover, its remote session capabilities allow the recording of all actions performed on these devices.

Conclusion

By reading this article, you saw that:

  • IoT is a term referring to the connection and interaction between the internet and different items we use in our daily lives;
  • IoT makes people’s lives easier by optimizing equipment performance through connectivity;
  • The development and implementation of IoT represent major challenges related to information security, such as lack of encryption, increased attack surface, insufficient tests that generate security problems, weak passwords, and limited security resources, among others;
  • Up-to-date data analysis processes can be used to increase cybersecurity on IoT devices;
  • Another important measure is the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning;
  • The Internet of Things also brings challenges such as lack of regulation, compatibility issues, limited bandwidth, and failures in IoT devices, which can frustrate customer expectations.

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