We stand at an age where smart technologies like IoT have almost become a part of our daily lives.
The Internet along with IoT technology has certainly reshaped the way we live in many parts of the world. However, it doesn’t come without its own set of drawbacks. Security is getting compromised. Since, there are still some gaping loopholes. It can be exploited to commit cybercrimes.
Cybercrimes have been the cause of vast damage to companies and their assets in the past, as well as their customers. Even though security protocols are in place inside the IoT ecosystem. However, it still leaves room for security breaches that could ultimately aid cyber criminals with their goals.
The emergence of IoT and problems faced
Smart technologies such as Internet of Things has grown exponentially over the last few years. And they have made their presence felt in our lives. Besides using it in office spaces, IoT appliances are becoming a part of the health and medical industry, as well as in fields of finance, management and other sectors.
However, the technology has faced many security challenges since its widespread adoption, including the emergence of powerful cyber-attacks. Past instances of cyber-attacks include the “WannaCry” ransomware. It almost crippled the entire IT network of a hospital, putting the lives of patients at risk.
As more and more devices are being included in its ecology, it is becoming more crucial than ever to focus more on preventing such security breaches for the safety of its users.
Some Common Cyber Attack Instances on IoT Technology
Cyber Attacks are not something new to the IoT universe. However, with a growing user base, the scale and relative simplicity of the attacks have made thousands of devices a potential victim for such an attack. Apart from the major security breaches, there have been some common cyber-attacks on IoT devices in the past as well. Some of them are explained in brief below.
One of the most well-known form of cyber-attacks known to experts are with the use of botnets. In layman’s terms, a botnet refers to a network of systems. They are combined for use of spreading malware and taking control remotely of an affected device. Criminals have used botnets for compromising private information, exploiting online banking data, and for conducting DDos Attacks. Recent findings by researchers at Princeton University have found out that a high wattage botnet attack could leave any appliance vulnerable.
Data and Identity theft
Another strategy of a cybercriminal is to amass data. It is a real threat especially in this age of interconnected appliances. By collecting and combining strands of data from a variety of sources including the internet, social media information, data from appliances such as smart watches, fitness trackers, smart meters. And even smart fridges can be used to conduct widespread data and identity theft.
How to Mitigate the Risk
Major Cyber-attacks have brought small scale, medium scale and even large conglomerates to their knees by conducting security breaches through IoT devices.
Some major events linked to IoT Cyber-attacks include the December 28th incident of a transformer explosion in New York. Power outages in the Las Vegas airport on June 18th, 2018 has made the task of mitigating the risk more crucial than ever. Princeton Research paper aimed to study the 28th December blackout of LaGuardia airport. There are several steps that can be taken to tighten up security.
- In systems which have a rather large customer base and experiences demand in millions, it becomes extremely difficult to detect, disconnect and isolate an affected device. This makes it impossible for removing the affected device used as a point of entry by the hackers.
- Simply disconnecting the power from the system isn’t a concrete solution. Adversaries can instantly repeat the attack once the power is restarted.
Some other key considerations that can be performed to increase IoT Security include,
- Encryption. In case of attacks on other IoT based networks such as connected healthcare of financial sectors, it becomes increasingly important to prevent data invasion by any third party. Critical and delicate information may be protected by using proper firewall software. Data can be encrypted by translating it into codes and other languages that cannot be readily encoded by the hackers, preventing a large-scale attack.
- Other considerations: Other small but important measures that can be undertaken by the users themselves, include setting strong passwords. Passwords should be set using a combination of letters, numbers, words or special characters where allowed.
With the growing usage of IoT based appliances in the world, the threat associated with cyber-attacks have become too great to ignore. Security recommendations from top security experts such as the IOT Security Foundation should be adopted on a wider scale to eliminate this worldwide threat.