IoT: Internet of Things
The term Internet of Things (IoT) refers to environments where objects, sensors, and everyday items that are not generally considered computers are embedded with network connectivity and computing capability, allowing them to generate, exchange, and consume data with minimal human intervention.
IoT may include consumer products, durable goods, cars and trucks, industrial components and utilities, sensors, and many other things. It offers a new way for users to interact with the network using devices other than conventional computers or smartphones.
Due to its open nature, the Internet makes it possible for devices, applications, and services to connect at a scale that revolutionizes the way we interact with the environment and society.
Globally, with the development of the 5G communication technology, we can expect an exponential growth of IoT-related services, which will interconnect millions of new devices and create a great opportunity for all participants of this emerging ecosystem to expand their offer of services and increase their client base.
However, given the billions of IoT devices, applications, and services in use, as well as the growing number of connected users, IoT security is vitally important. Insecure IoT devices or services can become entry points for cyberattacks, which can compromise sensitive data and the security of individual users.
Security issues stand in the way of the deployment of multiple new IoT services. At the same time, the spread of connectivity across an ever growing number of geographical locations contributes to the exposure of IoT services to fraud and malicious attacks.
With the IoT services on the rise, this environment is increasingly becoming the focus of cybercriminals, and on many occasions the accelerated development of new devices exposes certain security vulnerabilities which are then quickly exploited by attackers to access data, use the device to attack others, or cause a disruption of service of the compromised device.
IoT Security Considerations
There is a number of factors to consider when addressing IoT security, such as:
- The evolving IoT area is changing rapidly, with new capabilities being added and new vulnerabilities being discovered all the time. At the same time, best practices and standards are being developed to ensure its security, which is why it is also an increasingly popular topic for numerous organizations.
- IoT is more than just devices, IoT systems are interconnected and complex, they include software, devices, sensors, platforms, data transmission over the Internet, as well as data analysis and storage in the cloud. Since all components must be protected, it calls for a continuous and layered security approach.
- Although internal security is different from external security, both are equally important. It makes sense because an IoT system can be attacked internally, compromising the user’s privacy and security (for example: exposing video footage or controlling smart home systems). On the other hand, an externally compromised IoT system can be used to attack third parties (for example: using the system as part of a botnet in a denial of service attack on networks, users, or infrastructures). Security of IoT systems must be implemented considering the risks to third-party networks and users (external security), as well as their own users and assets (internal security).
- IoT security is a global concern. Indeed, the security of one network on the Internet can affect the security of any other network, as vulnerable IoT systems could be compromised from anywhere and used to attack any target.
- It is essential that security comes from the design of IoT systems or devices. It is more effective when it is implemented in the project from the very start and made part of all its phases up to the deployment and support of devices rather than added at the last minute.
- The security of IoT systems is a continuous process, meaning that it requires maintenance over time, which is now mainly the responsibility of manufacturers and service providers. A critical aspect is verifiable and effective updates and security patches, where the life cycles of products and services are a fundamental component.
- It is important to investigate and report vulnerabilities: those who investigate security issues play an important part by testing the security of devices and notifying manufacturers and service providers about the discovered vulnerabilities.
- IoT device integration platforms have a major impact on the market by making it possible to control numerous terminals using the same protocol and exchange data to make decisions using cohesive designs, facilitating interaction with compatible devices and streamlining the user experience by hiding the complexity and scale of automation. Their design with high security requirements encourages manufacturers and suppliers to improve the security of their devices and associated services accordingly.
There are multiple challenges facing the implementation of IoT security, such as:
Economics stand in the way of security. The pressure to compete for faster time-to-market and cheaper products force many designers and manufacturers of IoT systems, including devices, applications, and services, to spend less time and resources on security.
- Security requires specific expertise. Providers of devices and services who are new to the IoT ecosystem may have little or no prior experience in Internet security (for example, while knowing how to make a refrigerator safe for its primary function by using the right electrical wiring design and chemicals, a manufacturer may lack understanding of the potential impact of a compromised smart refrigerator).
- IoT systems are complex and all their components must be secure. Different components may be controlled by different actors in different locations, making it difficult to cooperate to resolve security issues. The complexity of supply chains makes security assessment challenging and requires that systems be secured as a whole, ensuring coordination between different actors and parts of the system.
- There must be support for security issues. IoT-related devices, applications, and services generally require security patches and updates for protection against known vulnerabilities. Providing IoT support in the long term is expensive and requires a lot of resources from vendors and developers, so it is not always the highest priority.
- Consumers know little about IoT security. Users tend to have limited knowledge of IoT, which affects their ability to factor in security when making a purchase or to configure their systems to keep them secure. Therefore, raising awareness and educating consumers are particularly important challenges.
- Existing legal liability mechanisms lack clarity. This creates uncertainty among victims when it comes to establishing liability or obtaining compensation for the damages incurred. Clarity in terms of liability could contribute to greater security. Without robust liability mechanisms in place, it is the users who pay the ultimate price for security breaches.
IoT Security Tips
Here are some tips that can help you mitigate the risk of your IoT devices being compromised:
- Change the default credentials of IoT devices and use secure passwords.
- Install updates for your IoT device applications as soon as they become available, and update their firmware to the most recent version.
- If you don’t use certain features of your IoT devices, disable them.
- Disable or secure remote access to IoT devices when you don’t need it because this function allows potential attackers to control them remotely.
- Learn about and take advantage of the security features offered by a specific IoT device.
To safeguard the future of the Internet, it is crucial to understand the growing impact of IoT security on its users. IoT device manufacturers, service providers, users, standardization organizations, legislators, and regulators must take measures to counter threats to the Internet infrastructure.
An urgent and fundamental task, which must be prioritized by all stakeholders, is to build a secure IoT ecosystem that will mitigate risks and protect against threats while unlocking the great potential that IoT has to offer to the society.
As part of its cybersecurity ecosystem, Protelion develops specialized equipment and solutions for security of industrial systems that are designed to withstand severe environmental conditions, such as high dust content, extreme temperatures, vibrations, humidity, etc.
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