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What Is Internet of Things (IoT) Security?

Niall Condon
UX Writer

Statista estimates that global spending for IoT will reach US$1.1 trillion by 2023, with $247 billion going toward smart home systems and smart cities. However, the rapid growth of smart devices and interconnected systems could provide hackers with more ways to access data if your IoT device's security issues aren’t addressed. This blog post will look at IoT security and how to ward off cyberattacks.

What is IoT?

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the growing number of devices and appliances connected to a local network or the internet. IoT devices can include your smartphone, smart fridge, or other devices that communicate and work together across a network. Although the term itself was first coined in 1999, IoT has increasingly become a significant part of our day-to-day life.

What is IoT security?

IoT security is the safeguarding of connected devices and networks. IoT devices aren’t just restricted to personal use – a growing number of smart devices and systems are entering the workplace. For example, companies can install heat and temperature controls, smart blinds, and seating planners to help optimize resources in an office environment.

The benefit of these devices syncing and working together is they regularly share and communicate data to improve their functionality. However, if all your devices are interconnected, access to one device could allow bad actors to exploit and breach your entire network. IoT network security is paramount to prevent exploiting security vulnerabilities that could lead to cyberattacks.

Why is IoT security important?

The recent influx of IoT devices has provided another avenue for hackers to exploit in recent years. IoT devices can be particularly vulnerable to security breaches. Recently, a study concluded that up to 82% of healthcare organizations experienced an IoT cyberattack over 18 months. There are often security oversights regarding the IoT and its apps. For example, early this year, a German teenager hacked Tesla vehicles’ app component. While he couldn't access the driving functions like steering or brakes, he could still exploit other potentially dangerous features like unlocking doors, playing music at max volume, and flashing lights. The more IoT devices become common, the more widespread their security threats will become.

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IoT security issues and threats

While smart devices introduce plenty of opportunities and convenience to our lives, they also open up the possibility of cyberattacks. Industries such as healthcare and manufacturing increasingly rely on IoT devices, exposing unprepared organizations to cyberattacks. Here are some of the threats IoT devices are susceptible to:

  • Malware: Because cybersecurity isn’t the primary concern of many smart devices, hackers don’t require advanced malicious software to attack. Rudimentary malware can steal data and cause damage to networks and devices. Mirai is used to infect security cameras, scan the network for the IP address of IoT devices, and connect. This allows hackers to launch significant DDoS attacks.

  • Credential-based attacks: Using stolen login IDs and passwords is a popular method for hackers because many people’s logins are already floating around online thanks to massive data leaks such as Collection #1. Once a business’s smart device’s application layer is breached, hackers can access any device connected to the network.

  • Data theft and exposure: Adding IoT devices to your home or office will introduce more potential entry points for hackers to access data. This increases the risk of personal information being stolen and exposed on the internet. A recent example of this is when hackers used Amazon’s Alexa to issue self-commands allowing the attackers to control smart lights, buy items on Amazon, and tamper with calendars.

  • Incorrect device management and configuration: Similar to the above, the more devices and accounts you add, the greater the chance of reusing passwords and usernames. Companies often ship IoT devices with default logins that should be changed during their setup. However, a survey of CIOs and IT managers showed that almost 50% of them allowed IoT devices onto their corporate network without changing the default passwords.

  • Complex ecosystem and smart device diversity: An office’s IoT ecosystem can quickly become a juggernaut of interconnected devices. These devices have many moving parts that operate at different levels. Overseeing and managing your wide array of IoT devices will help you prevent IoT attacks.

  • Not following security by design: Cybersecurity is generally not the main focus of many IoT devices, often taking a backseat to its functionality. Your office’s IoT security could be at risk because specific devices may have cybersecurity weaknesses that need to receive software updates. There’s also the possibility that any security features may be obsolete if the product is discontinued and no longer supported by its developer.

How to secure IoT devices

The good news is that maintaining an overall good cybersecurity policy for your company will help safeguard your IoT devices. Training your staff with cybersecurity best practices and appointing specific admin roles to deal with the security of IoT devices in your organization are all methods for securing your business from IoT threats.

  • Regularly updating and checking IoT devices for patches: By staying up to date with your IoT devices’ firmware, you’re better equipped to protect your workplace from ever-evolving cyber threats. While people regularly update their computers and phones, they may forget to update their IoT devices.

  • Monitoring device behavior: By knowing your device’s base behavior and aspects such as its performance or regular network activity, you can recognize irregular behavior and intervene if you notice any deviations to your device’s performance.

  • Using strong and unique passwords: Using a password manager for your organization helps secure your IoT data security. NordPass Business creates unique, complex passwords. Additionally, it regularly reminds you to update passwords if they’re old, reused, or weak.

  • Checking app permissions for IoT devices: If an IoT device comes with an app, it is better to review the permissions it’s requesting before allowing access to your device or network. You shouldn’t grant apps more permissions than are strictly necessary.

  • Applying network segmentation and network security: Your workplace should have a way to monitor network activity and any devices connected to it. Tracking this information will help you recognize irregular internet traffic and act as an additional layer of security. This means that if one device is affected by an attack, it won’t be passed on to your other devices.

  • Considering additional security solutions and tools: To secure the app component of IoT devices, consider only accessing the app via a VPN. Doing so will encrypt the data transferred and give your network an extra layer of security.

How NordPass Business boosts your IoT security

The surge of IoT devices in private and professional settings provides more potential routes for hackers to steal valuable data and information. These devices and networks are more intertwined than ever, meaning cybersecurity for IoT shouldn’t be ignored. For companies working with large amounts of data, NordPass Business is the cybersecurity solution you’re looking for. With NordPass, you can securely store and share login credentials for all your accounts and generate strong, unique logins in no time. NordPass allows you and your colleagues to quickly access important office notes (alarm PINs, WiFi passwords, and recovery codes) in one place.

Try NordPass Business’ free 30-day trial and discover how a business password manager can make corporate data security a smooth experience.

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