Home » IT & Tech Blogs » Information Technology » IT Security » 6 Signs of Poor IoT Security Practices and How to Address Them

6 Signs of Poor IoT Security Practices and How to Address Them

The Internet of Things is steadily growing. There are already more than 15 billion IoT devices worldwide, and this number is projected to nearly double in 2030. There’s nothing to be surprised about the popularity of IoT devices, though, given how they have improved the way people live and work.

They perform various functions, from communication to automation. However, it is important to be aware of the risks the integration of IoT into everyday life brings.

In 2022, more than 100 million IoT attacks were recorded. These include botnet exploitation, firmware attacks, data interception, tampering, and attempts to use IoT devices in DDoS attacks. Aggravating the threat situation is the lack of awareness about IoT security among IoT users. The knowledge of good IoT security practices is a must, so here are six signs that indicate an organization’s poor security posture and higher predisposition to attacks.

Weak passwords and authentication

Robust access controls are among the key features of IoT security. Most embedded and IoT devices may be designed for plug-and-play use, but they must have unique and strong login credentials and proper authentication. As much as possible, each device should have a unique set of usernames and passwords different from the default. This means that it is important to have a comprehensive record of all login credentials that is convenient to access (for authorized users) but adequately secure.

On the other hand, organizations should also implement multi-factor authentication for all their devices. No device should become accessible with just a set of a username and a password alone, especially remotely. At least one additional password or a physical USB login device should be required to prevent threat actors from accessing IoT devices if they manage to sniff login credentials.

Having unique passwords for all devices in a network does not have to be tedious and complicated. Many tools can simplify the process. It is also possible to use RFID, NFC tags, or QR codes to facilitate secure access without requiring users to memorize their unique usernames and passwords.

Inadequate or lack of network segmentation

Network segmentation refers to the division of a network into multiple subnets or segments that can operate as independent smaller networks. It is one of the security measures recommended by the PCI Security Standards Council, which is responsible for the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.

Network segmentation is important because of three main reasons. First, it improves threat detection because it becomes easier to observe network activities and spot anomalies or irregular actions when the network is smaller. Secondly, segmentation helps isolate potential threats by automatically confining attacks in sub-networks because they need to go through more security controls if they were to spread to more subnets. This isolation results in another benefit: the restriction of lateral movement of attacks. Ransomware attacks like WannaCry (2017) succeeded because of the lack of or poor segmentation in networks.

Network segmentation is not a difficult process, although it requires the cooperation of all the stakeholders in a network to maximize the benefits while minimizing the inconveniences. It has to be implemented by experienced IT and cybersecurity professionals to integrate best practices and put in place the most efficient security controls.

Inappropriate encryption or the lack thereof

IoT devices may be designed to focus on simple functions or handle simple tasks, but the data they transmit to and receive from each other can be sensitive or useful to threat actors. The data can be intercepted by cybercriminals in various ways, so it is advisable to prepare for such contingency. That’s why it is important to enforce appropriate encryption. It can be AES, TLS, ECC, RSA, or SHA. The cybersecurity team will have to decide on the most efficient option to use depending on the devices and functions involved.

Encryption is not just about making data unreadable to unauthorized parties, though. It also requires an efficient way to decrypt the data to make them useful promptly. For this, organizations will have to learn to securely store and manage encryption keys and rotate these keys to maximize the protection afforded by encryption.

Failure to apply firmware updates or using devices that don’t get updated

Firmware updates may be a hassle, but they are crucial for IoT devices. It is uncommon for vulnerabilities to emerge in any kind of device, so manufacturers release security patches or firmware updates. Organizations that do not have a systematized system for updating their devices’ firmware will have a hard time getting firmware updates. It is important to have a way to keep track of all devices, including their software or firmware.

It is also worth emphasizing that organizations should be mindful of firmware concerns. Some IoT device sellers offer products with run-of-the-mill firmware that never gets updated. This is one big red flag device buyers should take into account. Before buying any smart or connected device, it is important to inquire about their history of software updates and their commitment to ensuring device security.

There are security solutions designed to make organizations less dependent on security patching to protect devices. They use AI to analyze activity patterns and spot anomalous or potentially hazardous activities that are not yet in threat intelligence databases (zero-day attacks). However, it would be much better to have the habit of regularly applying device firmware updates whenever they become available.

Lack or unreliability of security audits

Security audits are a must for all organizations. They check if there are enough security tools and measures in place to address all kinds of threats. They also evaluate if security controls are still working as they are intended, especially after changes have been implemented or new hardware and software are added to the network. These audits are particularly important when using a multitude of IoT devices since these devices come and go and may carry vulnerabilities in them that can compromise the entire network.

Security audits include vulnerability assessments and penetration testing. These can be automated and undertaken continuously with the help of AI to make sure that threat actors find no vulnerability they can exploit at any point in time. Organizations can perform security audits through comprehensive cybersecurity platforms that provide a unified dashboard for conducting various security functions

Disregard for physical security

Many tend to forget that IoT devices are usually small or portable objects that can be discreetly tampered with or taken out by insiders. That’s why organizations that use IoT devices must have stringent physical security systems to prevent attempts to physically access these devices or temporarily take them out and introduce malicious software to them or forcibly extract sensitive data that may be stored in the devices.

The cybersecurity teams or IT departments should work with the physical security group of their organization to make sure that IoT devices never leave the premises and do not become accessible to those who have no business inserting media devices into them or prying them open. Surveillance cameras and alarms are usually needed for this.

Ensuring IoT security

The indicators of bad IoT security practices listed here may sound like a no-brainer, but many continue to ignore them and downplay their importance. Other tech-savvy articles may present articles about IoT security that cite technical terms like discovery and risk analysis, zero-trust systems, and vulnerability patching, but they are all simplified and summed up in the list above.

Originally posted 2023-06-07 16:25:05. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Check Also

Protecting Your E-commerce Website from Hacking

When first coined, the term hacker meant a person who enjoyed exploring the details of …

Information Technology Blog

Accessibility Tools