What To Know About Security for IoT

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What To Know About Security for IoTThe Internet of Things (IoT) — which enables connected devices to communicate and transfer data with an IP — is becoming increasingly vital with critical applications in several fields by improving service capabilities, output, connections and communications. The increased prevalence of IoT devices makes security for IoT a vital area that needs more attention.


An IoT system continuously sends, receives, and analyzes data in a feedback loop. Typical consumer use cases range from smartphones, smartwatches, smart homes, and even self-driving cars. IoT devices also have critical applications in healthcare, supply chain management, and industrial use cases like energy and manufacturing, where it’s known as Industrial IoT or IIoT.


In this article, we look into some of the challenges when it comes to security for IOT and list a few best practices to ensure security when you deploy IoT devices.


Why Is IoT Security Essential?

The vast number of IoT-based applications that span several fields such as healthcare, smart homes, agriculture, supply chain, transportation and governmental applications make it all the more imperative to prioritize security. Despite all the advantages and breakthroughs of the Internet of Things (IoT) technology, there is a significant challenge to businesses in terms of serious security concerns.


The biggest reason why security for IoT is vital is because an IoT device can be used to gain unauthorized access into your systems. Regular users think that IoT devices can’t be hacked into, but this is not true. Every IoT device on your network is a potential target for attack that could cause immense damage to the security of the individual and the organization’s data.


Businesses are increasingly using IoT to boost efficiency and provide transparency in their operations. As a result, several devices on the business network have access to sensitive information and important systems. Customer IoT devices do not have strong security and might not have been built with security in mind. This leaves them vulnerable to attack when they are connected to the network, putting the business as a whole in danger. 


As businesses continue to integrate these devices into their networks, they must consider the benefits they offer against the dangers they represent to the integrity of data, availability and confidentiality. Devices installed on the business network increase the chances of a corporate digital attack due to potential error codes, access control problems and other flaws. IoT security is essential for reducing the threats that these devices represent to the enterprise. 


For instance, to obtain access to a company’s network, cyber attackers frequently target unprotected printers, smart lights, IP cameras and other network devices.They can then travel widely through the network to gain access to more important hardware and private information, develop ransomware and/or double extortion campaigns and ultimately destroy a company’s network.


Challenges of IoT Security

When creating IoT systems, you must not undervalue the significance of cybersecurity. Thus, before creating secure IoT systems you first need to understand the potential cybersecurity concerns. Here is a list of some typical IoT security challenges:

1. Lack of Inbuilt Security Features

Most IoT devices are built without prioritizing security or even giving it an afterthought. Once these vulnerabilities are exposed, they remain so for months on end without any protection. For example, many IoT devices ship with default passwords which don’t need to be changed during installation. Another example is when device manufacturers deliver IoT devices containing malware in the firmware. This typically occurs when these manufacturers don’t scan the source code used during development.


2. IoT Devices Always Have Remote Access On

The “always reachable” feature of IoT devices is a double-edged sword. While IoT devices give out data 24×7, this very fact makes them an ideal target for those with ill intentions. Many hackers use automation to identify devices with publicly available IP addresses and default passwords as a starting point for their attack.


3. Software and Firmware Flaws

IoT security is hard to maintain, primarily because of resource limitations and low processing power of many smart devices. As a result, they are less likely to conduct robust, resource-intensive security operations and are more vulnerable than non-IoT devices. Many IoT systems have security flaws for the below reasons:

  • Poor access control
  • Lack of upgrades due to technical limitations and budget constraints
  • The inability of the system to efficiently process built-in security
  • Users may forget to upgrade their devices, which would stop risks from being eliminated
  • Older devices might eventually not be able to receive software upgrades


4. Uncertain Communications

Conventional security solutions are less effective when it comes to safeguarding the communication of IoT devices. The potential for a man-in-the-middle (MitM) assault is one of the most harmful dangers brought on by uncertain communications. If your device does not include secure encryption and authentication, hackers can easily take control of your device and can even install malware or change the functionality of the device. For example, if hackers access just one device on a home network, they can quickly compromise all connected devices on the network.


5. IoT System Data Breaches

The data that is transferred through and kept in the cloud is equally vulnerable to external threats. As a result, both the device itself and the cloud environment that it’s linked to could leak data. This might include sensitive data like bank account details, health records and location. 


6. Other Cyberattacks 

Apart from malware and MitM attacks, IoT devices are also open to various cyberattacks. Some of them are:

  • Denial-of-service (DoS) – A device’s capacity to react to real requests is compromised by overwhelming it with fraudulent traffic.
  • Denial-of-sleep (DoSL) – This kind of attack makes the sensor ineffective and depletes the battery. 
  • Device spoofing – Hackers mislead the network device and confuse the IoT installations.
  • App-based attacks – These attacks are possible when the device programming, cloud servers or the backend apps have security flaws.


Best Practices for IoT Security

Keeping the above challenges in mind you need to increase the protection of the IoT system components. Blockchain, when combined with IoT, can help in fighting IoT related security lapses. Below are some best practices to secure smart devices. 

1. Secure Networks

  • Use distinct and unusual default credentials
  • Use the most recent guidelines when identifying your products
  • Use specialized protocols like IPsec and Secure Sockets Layer
  • Only allow necessary network traffic to flow through
  • Program the device to reveal suspicious activity and reboot when malware is detected
  • Implement modern firewall protection by dividing large networks into many smaller ones


2. Secure Data 

  • When using the device for the first time, initiate an immediate password update.
  • Ensure only valid users have access to the data by ensuring a strong authentication.
  • In case a user wants to return or resell the product, include a reset feature that enables the elimination of personal information.
  • Ensure your IoT product only gathers information that is required for it to function. This reduces data leakage, eliminates risks and protects privacy.
  • Limit needless communication with other IoT networks.
  • Use encryption methods like Advanced Encryption Standard, Triple DES and Digital Signature Algorithm.


3. Secure Smart Devices

  • Make your product tamper-proof by using camera covers or port locks or by applying strong passwords.
  • Establish automatic and mandatory security updates.
  • Constantly check for any vulnerabilities and create updates as necessary.
  • Ensure that rewritable device memory is used to store cryptographic keys.
  • Discard used products carefully so that you do not expose any sensitive data. 


It is crucial to start considering the security of IoT devices during the research and development phases. While it is challenging to ensure strong cybersecurity of devices, networks and data because of repeated cyberattacks, early detection and application of the recommended best practices help guard against, prevent and discourage cyber threats.

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