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A Comprehensive Guide on IoT Security

The smartwatch you are wearing, the smart fans that run on your voice command, or the smart thermostats that control your AC systems even when you are not in your home are all parts of IoT. The Internet of Things (IoT) has been transforming the way we live, work, and interact with the world. These devices have been deeply integrated into our daily chores making our lives highly convenient but have also given rise to huge security concerns making cybersecurity in IoT important.

The number of interconnected devices is exploding. As per Statista, there will be around 32.1 billion IoT devices connected by 2030. That forms a huge attack surface for the attackers to exploit. So, if there are weakly secured devices then they can serve as the perfect entry point for malicious hackers to breach the networks and steal sensitive data.

But you do not need to worry as there is good news for you. You can simply follow a few things to secure your connected world. In this article, we will discuss what is IoT Security and what are its best practices.

Understanding the looming threats

First, let us understand the threats associated with IoT devices so that we can be well-prepared to mitigate any kind of threats looming over us. The rapid growth of IoT devices that we discussed above is one reason for increasing cybersecurity threats. As per a report by Verizon, it was found that 43% of all data breaches were because of compromised IoT devices.

These security breaches can be in the form of stealing personal data from smart home devices to manipulating industrial control systems plant’s infrastructure.

Here are the common types of vulnerabilities in IoT devices:

  1. Weak passwords

Almost all IoT devices come with pre-configured passwords that are not only easy to guess but crack also. You might have also seen them as 12345, Admin@123, companyname123, etc. Also, they do not have proper encryption and thus they are more vulnerable to interception.

  1. Outdated firmware

Like all other software, even IoT devices’ firmware also needs to be updated regularly to address vulnerabilities. Many manufacturers and IoT developers do not pay attention to this and lack a robust update process that leads the devices exposed to attacks.

  1. Botnet attacks

Hackers can use your compromised devices to build botnets and a network of such compromised devices can be used to launch DoS attacks on a large scale.

  1. Insecure Networks

IoT devices are mostly connected over insecure networks which makes them even more vulnerable to interception and unauthorized access by hackers.

  1. Physical tampering

Hackers can also access some devices physically enabling them to steal data, install malware, and misuse devices.

Looking at these threats we can understand how important it is to have a proper security measure in place to protect our devices and data.

Best Practices for IoT Users

Although the manufacturers have the responsibility to build secure devices, we also have a huge share in protecting our devices and data. We can minimize and even alleviate several kinds of cybersecurity threats by following the best IoT practices such as:

  • Choose devices with strong security features. Look at device that offer secure boot, encryption and can receive regular firmware updates.
  • Always change the default passwords. Set your own unique, strong, and hard-to-crack password for all your IoT devices.
  • Always enable Multifactor Authentication (MFA) as it adds extra layer of security. In this method a secure code is sent either to your mobile or email in addition to the secure passwords for authentication.
  • As mentioned in the above section, keep the firmware in your IoT devices updated to patch the security vulnerabilities.
  • Creating separate network for your IoT devices can also be a great way to isolate them from main network that might contain sensitive data.
  • Consider disabling unused features in your devices. For example, turn off location in TVs or thermostats as they are of no use.

What does the future look like?

The number of interconnected IoT devices is going to explode without any doubt. So, proactive approach needs to be taken to secure all the devices at manufacturer, IoT developer, and user levels. In future, we can see following trends:

  • Standardization and regulations

Governments and industry groups need to work together and develop a security standards and regulations for IoT devices.

  • Security by Design

Also, manufacturers might be seen incorporating security features into their device design right from the ground up.

  • Increase in consumer awareness

We might also see increase in consumer awareness through mass awareness and training programs.

Hone your cybersecurity skills

Well, you don’t actually need to be highly technical or enroll in some university programs to protect your IoT devices. However, if you want to contribute to making this world a secure place and want to minimize the cyberthreats, then getting into cybersecurity career can be a great option. You can enroll in cybersecurity courses or earn cybersecurity certifications to master the cybersecurity skills needed to protect not just IoT devices but all devices, networks, and systems.

Conclusion

Government, manufacturers, users, and all stakeholders need to work together to maximize the security of IoT devices. Such devices are the favorite entry points for all the hackers and increase in devices means increase in attack surface. But you can follow the discussed best practices and minimize the security risks in all your IoT devices.

Alex

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