Concerns regarding cloud security are not new but the growing influence of the Internet of Things (IoT) surely is playing a huge role in enhancing the attack surface of businesses compared to traditional IT deployment thus imposing huge risks.
2021 witnessed the launching of one of the biggest DDoS attacks launched by Mris Botnet. The breach contained 200,000 malicious endpoints and as per reports, the attack strength was measured as of 21.8 M requests per second. The incident brought down many popular websites. What makes this attack even more special is that this was the second major attack after the 2016 Mirai botnet around IoT devices. Around 100,000 compromised smart routers, cameras, and other devices here enslaved into one single boned, highly focused on a single target.
Well, IoT botnets are not the only type of threat we are expecting. Simplicity and ease of use are the two crucial elements of the IoT industry and many times some IoT products simply avoid giving security too much priority thinking customers might find it too bulky. Some of the bad practices that are giving rise to the IoT security concerns are:
- Poor authentication policies
- Unencrypted communication
- Insecure user interface
- Poor privacy policies
Together with huge opportunities, the complexity of IoT implementation also imposes a huge risk for organizations. The main thing about IoT is that it changes the traditional data and cloud security measurements into ways that need to be addressed before the implementation part.
Below are some of the major security concerns with the adoption of IoT:
1. Public Safety
Since IoT is based on real-life devices, it has the capability to cause real-world damage to life and limb. Guess what can happen in case of failure of a telematics system that directs your autonomous vehicle or the electric grid or firmware operating life-sustaining medical devices.
2. Business disruption
Unlike previous times when a balky software update would mean a headache for in-house users, with IoT grounding an entire fleet of cars or trucks is also not a big deal. Even a small failure at cloud provider hosting IoT service can cause regional and sometimes global disruptions too.
3. Product liability
Now when you talk about traditional IT technologies, product liability law is quite clear but when you talk about IoT-based software and cloud-based providers, they are more likely to get failures that can lead to liability or other legal claims involving connected products.
5 Ways to address IoT security vulnerabilities
The process of IoT security is actually an extension of the basic security measurements every brand is taking since the past few years including data encryption, application firewalls, etc. These techniques hold a great place in providing important security protection for overall security. However, if you are implementing IoT, you need a better plan when you are dealing with the IoT that includes new endpoints, data feeds, applications, and the cloud-based services that lie in an IoT ecosystem. Here I am going to share some effective ways to minimize IoT security risks.
Best practice #1. Secure cloud infrastructure
When you talk about a cloud infrastructure that deals with IoT, you need higher security at various security layers. These security measurements must contain a three-pronged approach that is highly focused on three factors i.e. integrity, confidentiality, and availability. Moreover, the communication between cloud management servers, endpoints, and IoT hubs must be encrypted in order to avoid snooping while also sanitizing the back-end databases and IoT application server inputs to prevent application-based attacks.
Additionally, access to the IoT application data and servers must be secured with the “least privilege” policies to limit the access to the sensitive data only to the right people. Adopting an adaptive two-factor authentication solution can also make a huge difference here. It will prevent unauthorized access by stepping up security measurements if the request is coming from a malicious resource, IP or location. Lastly, the physical access to data centers must be strictly controlled keeping international standards in mind.
Best practice #2. Design for security
A well-analyzed security planning is the basis of the IoT design and development process to ensure they connect and communicate securely while also preventing unauthorized attempts that are risked to compromise their identity. Adding secure design principles in the early stage of the design and development of IoT devices makes sure your product doesn’t become an easy target for cybercriminals.
Additionally performing static and dynamic testing before making a product go-live can help you better identify security vulnerabilities like cross-site scripting, SQL injection, etc. When kept as a software manifest, IoT producers can easily identify and measure the impact of any security vulnerabilities while also taking necessary measurements to update shared and open-source libraries.
Best practice #3. Secure IoT devices
Do you know IoT endpoints that are deployed in the field can’t get benefitted from the physical security protections that are offered to most IoT assets making it a very easy target to discover security weak points? Businesses that are planning to add new IoT products must take necessary measurements to secure their IoT devices from smart hackers. Below are some best practices to do that:
- Enforce strong authentication for local users as well as admins
- Enforms strong encryption for data at rest, device authentication, etc
- Avoid backdoor entries for admin accounts
Best practice #4. Secure IoT device connections
Businesses must ensure to secure IoT device, applications, and back-end services communication using SSL/TLS encryption. Moreover, IoT applications and management interfaces should be designed in such a way that they can raise the bar for users and admins to make trivial data compromise impossible while also fighting with attacks like brute force. Lastly, logging changes and activities on endpoints must be analyzed thoroughly to clearly identify any weak points.
Best practice #5. Secure IoT services and applications
Improperly designed cloud services and IoT applications are highly vulnerable to data breaches both from internal as well as external users. Hacks like cross-site scripting or SQL injection can be easily used to gain privileged access to management interfaces and perform denial-of-service attacks. Insecure Web UI can also be used to gain account credentials. Therefore leaving IoT services and applications without any proper security measures can cause serious threats to your IoT products.
Finally, IoT has undoubtedly brought us thousands of opportunities, but without proper security measurements, it will ruin your business and its reputation. It’s high time, we should ask this question: Are we doing enough to address IoT security vulnerabilities?