How secure are IoT devices? Considering just how many of them are out there, you might expect security to be at a high level. Users are not informed enough on the topic of IoT safety and security, however, and IoT product manufacturers aren’t putting enough emphasis on this aspect of their business. Devices aren’t as secure as they should be.
That’s why the field of IoT security will boom over the next few years. Billions of devices are being interconnected across the globe, and most of them are vulnerable to a large list of IoT security concerns.
With a projected 50 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020, the security of the data they share is a large and growing concern. IoT security risks are a big deal.
We’ve cleared up What is the IoT? We’ve estimated How many IoT devices are there? We’ve researched IoT growth and market size. The time has come to discuss the biggest concern of all regarding IoT technology.
Main IoT Security Concerns
Here are some of the main concerns that keep IoT security engineers awake at night:
Experts agree that insecure devices pose a threat to the IoT. Bringing just one insecure device into your home or work environment can jeopardize the safety of your family or lead to a significant business loss. Someone could gain access to your home security system or your bank account because you thought it would be cool to start your morning coffee brewing by pressing a couple of buttons on your smartphone. If your new coffee machine isn’t secure, your home network could be compromised.
Distributed denial of service attacks can run an online business into the ground. It has never been easier for a competitor (or a bored kid with too much time on her hands) to gain access to your network and prevent customers from accessing the services your business provides. Securing your devices is the first step in preventing these attacks. You should also develop a Plan B in case you lose access to the key components of your business despite hardening your security profile with Plan A.
A network is only a secure as the weakest link, and for many homes and businesses, that weak link is the smartphone. Using a secure password on your phone is increasingly important. Apps should be downloaded only from official stores – and even then, caution is required. Pay attention to the permissions that a new app requires. If anything seems suspicious, don’t install it.
Lack of Updates
As time passes, hackers get more sophisticated and more software vulnerabilities are discovered. Internet of Things safety and security erodes over time. That’s why it is essential to install manufacturer updates regularly – preferably automatically. Vendors who are alerted to security vulnerabilities patch them in updates, so your devices should always be running the latest version of their operating software.
Sometimes the flow of updates stops. If a product doesn’t sell in large numbers, the vendor may not find it worthwhile to assign technicians to security updates. The manufacturer could be acquired or go out of business. If your IoT network relies upon devices that are no longer being updated, consider replacing the devices with newer ones that will pose less of a security risk.
Raw Data Storage
Developers would rather save the data they gather in raw form than take the time and trouble to encrypt it. When this lack of care is combined with a lack of scruples, users can find their data being sold to advertisers and others. But that is a minor concern. You certainly don’t want your network to store sensitive health, political, or financial information in unencrypted form.
When the data collected by the IoT devices is stored or transmitted with concern for security, breaches become likely – and potentially devastating. With petabytes upon petabytes of data gathered from our security systems, phones, Fitbits, and other devices, hackers have never had a higher incentive to steal data and sell it for a profit. Data breaches are significant IoT security problems.
IoT Security Protocols
IoT protection protocols haven’t kept pace with the explosive growth of the installed base and the number of hackers who are targeting IoT devices. IoT security issues are among the industry’s top priorities, and several promising technologies are under development. Significant progress has already been made, and some of today’s protocols could serve as solid foundations for upgrades that meet emerging needs.
Five major safety protocols currently work together to keep IoT data security intact:
This security protocol is considered solid, a model to be emulated by security specialists. It is used primarily in wireless networks of industrial sensors. WirelessHART requires all the devices that want to join a network to be verified with a secret Join key as well as a Network ID.
6LowPAN addresses Internet of Things security concerns by dealing with confidentiality, authentication, data protection, and data integrity. The protocol is designed to allow access only to authorized users. This ensures that data enters the network only from trusted sources and that the data remains unchanged during transmission.
3. IEEE 802.15.4
Defined in 2003, IEEE 802.15.4 protects communication among IoT devices. In practice, it provides a single shared key for all of the parties involved. This means that if device or workstation is compromised by an attack, the attacker can easily gain access to the entire network, according to an Internet of Things security report published by Washington University in St. Louis.
Internet Protocol Security, or IPSec, supports two security services. The first is called Authentication Header. It allows authentication of the sender of data. The second is named Encapsulating Security Payload, or ESP. It supports both authentication of the sender and encryption of data.