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How to ensure cybersecurity in the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical objects (things) embedded with software, sensors and other technology for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data. Without proper security, every connected device may be accessible to hackers putting our personal and professional networks at risk. This means that confidential data may be manipulated or stolen. The IoT poses a huge challenge for cybersecurity. So, how can you ensure cybersecurity in the Internet of Things? 

Important Internet of Things statistics you need to know

It’s crucial to have an idea of key IoT market and security threat statistics to help you with security issues.

  • In 2017, the global market for IoT attained $100 billion in revenue for the first time. There are claims that this figure may rise to $1.6 trillion by 2025. 
  • The total number of devices connected to IoT will reach 31 billion globally by 2025. This number includes active gateways or devices that concentrate the end-sensors. However, it does not include consumer devices such as computers and smartphones.
  • The rate of IoT adoption has increased due to the coronavirus pandemic with a special focus on the healthcare sector.
  • SonicWall, a cybersecurity company that prevents an average of 26 million cyberattacks every day worldwide, recorded a 40% increase in ransomware attacks during the third quarter of 2020 compared to 152 million cyberattacks all over the world during the first three quarters of 2019. 
  • The 2020 Unit 42 IoT malware report indicates that 98% of all IoT device traffic is not encrypted, which exposes private and personal information on the network. 
  • The same report also shows that 57% of IoT devices are prone to medium and high severity ransomware attacks. Additionally, 41% of cyberattacks exploit the vulnerabilities that reveal Internet of Things security challenges. 

Microsoft’s 2020 IoT signals report shows that while 41% of the decision-makers will not change their current IoT investments, while the remaining decision-makers plan to boost their investments. 

Internet of things security challenges and vulnerabilities

IoT devices lack inbuilt security, making them a perfect target for cybercriminals. Most IoT devices are also interconnected and can comprise the security of different devices if one device is hacked.  Other IoT security challenges include:

  1. Lack of constant testing and updating 

Most companies rarely pay attention to the security issues while developing IoT devices unless a major problem arises. Such companies only ensure a device is secure when IoT manufacturers launch it. 

However, over time it becomes vulnerable to cybercriminals and other security issues because of insufficient testing and updating. Thus, opening the door to Internet of Things security challenges.

  1. Non-compliant IoT manufacturers 

Allow me to explain this with common examples. If you have a smart refrigerator, you may have noticed that it can expose your Gmail credentials while Bluetooth on fitness trackers remains visible after the initial pairing. 

These are some of the biggest IoT cybersecurity threats. Security issues from manufacturers in IoT devices include:

  • Unprotected and insecure transfer/storage of data
  • Using outdated software and operating systems
  • Technical problems in the hardware
  • Using weak passwords
  1. Botnet attacks

These attacks can easily cause security threats for manufacturing plants, electrical grids, transportation systems plus water treatment facilities, and threaten large groups of people. 

For instance, a hacker can trigger a cooling and heating system to create spikes on the power grid and cause a nationwide power outage if planned on a big scale. Cybercriminals usually create several bots and infect them with malware to perform botnet attacks.

  1. Financial frauds 

Electronic payment companies that use IoT may experience multiple financial frauds, making it difficult to detect fraud immediately. Also, unless financial companies improve their risk management and project lifestyle strategies that comprise a rising threat of Internet of Things security breaches, they may find it challenging to launch new workflow models due to operational and compliance issues.

  1. Smart home invasions 

Smart homes make cybersecurity for IoT crucial when it comes to home automation. If you have poor defense mechanisms and unsafe addresses, hackers can easily track your IP address and identify the address of your device. 

  1. Access to remote smart car 

Hijacking your smart car is another IoT security issue that’s close to home invasions. This can cause car and personal data theft, as well as manipulation of critical safety systems. Remote car access can also lead to ransomware since hackers can ask for a hefty ransom to start the engine or unlock the vehicle. These intrusions can cause accidents as they’re a big threat to public security. 

Let’s now discuss the cybersecurity strategies you can implement to overcome these challenges and vulnerabilities.

How to make IoT connections secure

Below are the measures you can take to secure your IoT connections:

  1. Adopt public key infrastructure (PKI) strategy 

PKI allows users to communicate and exchange money or data securely using private and public cryptographic key pairs. PKI encrypts information through two processes; asymmetric and symmetric encryption. In asymmetric, you need two keys (private and public keys). 

However, if you encrypt data using the public key, decryption can only be done using the private key and vice-versa. In symmetric, you can encrypt and decrypt data using the same key. Encryption and decryption of data ensure data privacy is maintained to prevent data theft.

  1. Authenticate IoT devices

Device authentication features for your Internet of Things devices are great cybersecurity solutions. Features such as biometric systems and multi-factor authentication prevent unauthorized persons from accessing your devices. 

It’s important to secure your devices to minimize the chances of your information landing in the wrong hands. Your IoT devices will be well secured if you implement the recommended security measures. In turn, you’ll enjoy the benefits of using IoT devices everywhere including in your vehicle, in the office, and at home.

  1. Implement IoT security analytics

Implementing security analytics can also help you minimize the security challenges you’re facing. This involves collecting, comparing, and evaluating information from different sources to identify potential threats.

  1. Secure your network

It’s essential to secure the network that connects your back-end systems and IoT devices by installing security solutions such as firewalls, antimalware, antivirus, as well as prevention and intrusion detection systems.

Cybersecurity for IoT devices is important because the devices are vulnerable to malware attacks. Cisco Switches, Routers & Firewalls minimize cyberattacks and update your network with the latest security patches. You can also fix any potential exploits or vulnerabilities and secure your IoT devices.  

Sources

Maclean Odiesa
Maclean Odiesa
Maclean is a tech freelance writer with 7+ years in content strategy and development. She is also a pillar pages specialist and SEO expert.

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