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Internet of Things Security 101


Internet of Things (IoT) security is one of the contentious issues faced by the tech industry today, so much so that special attention on how it can be resolved is given to it by IT professionals and companies around the world. IoT security simply means all computing devices that are interconnected, or linked via software or hardware, in the network ecosystem, are protected and are secure. As data is channeled through the network, the information becomes exposed to hacking, and poor protection will eventually lead to damaging crash of systems and the devices. The vulnerability of IoT to hacking could be quite worrisome.

But then, IoT industry experts are working very hard to protect the devices and shield the entire network. Smart appliances, smart kitchen, smart bedroom? If people want IoT to be part of their lives, IoT security should be made part of their routine as well. Oftentimes, hacking only happens when the buyer fails to update software, change passwords constantly and make sure that the IoT device or phone is always within view. In other words, attacks happen because of human error. Denying the attacker any entry point should the best protection for any user. The utility and relevance of IoT far outweighs the effort, and probably some resources, that you’d have to commit to make IoT secure.

Know thy enemy – that’s that first rule if we want to defeat IoT security threats. Below is a list of some of the most potent threats that could destroy stability and security of networks.

1. BotNets

According to Techopedia, “A botnet is a group of computers connected is a coordinated fashion for malicious purposes.” It is a network of “bots”, and each bot is a compromised computer that is controlled by a third party, often an attacker. The bot is used to transmit malware or spam, or launch attacks. Another nefarious name for botnet is “zombie army”.

IoT security is often compromised when users utilize computers are not safeguarded with firewalls and anti-virus programs. Botnets are notoriously dangerous as it has become useful tools for hackers and organized crime for their illegal online activities. This kind of IoT security threat is often can be used for any type of digital attack. Among the most known incidents of botnet attacks involved IoT devices such as Mirai, Aidra and Linux/IRCTelnet.

2. Data and Identity Theft

Theft of one’s identity and valuable data is always the critical focus of hackers. Interconnecting smart devices require users to input personal data which, if firewall and sufficient security safeguards are not in place, can most likely be stolen using various tools. Apart from stealing personal data for money, social engineering is a common objective for identity theft, as well.

3. Man-In-The-Middle Attack

It might sound peculiar to call an online breach “Man-In-The-Middle” attack but it is a very accurate description of what this IoT security threat really does. The aim of the attacker is to interrupt communication within the network or between two systems. The parties communicating will not have any idea that the attacker has altered the data that’s going back and forth. It’s a very dangerous ruse that can actually break down an entire system. The case of the blackberry executive and electric tea kettle should give you an idea on why you must, at all cost, prevent this security breach from happening.

Standing up against IoT Security threats

Data Security in IoT is becoming ever relevant as more and more sensors are being utilized. (credits: IoT News Network)

Tech companies, big and small, are expectedly at the forefront of the fight to rid the world of IoT of any security threat. In fact, Google, IBM and Cisco have set their sights on adding security. Some startups like Rubicon, Argus and Mocana have opened new avenues to secure IoT devices. Cisco, Intel Corporation, Symantec, Infineon Technologies and IBM are cashing in on IoT security. With all these developments, it’s not at all surprising that the IoT security market continues to grow, ballooning to USD28.90 billion by year 2020.
Given the necessity of having a robust IoT security in the face of an equally robust wave of threats, there is now such a thing as internet of security solutions. Under this concept, experts suggest that users need to segment their own networks and put restrictions to each segment. This will facilitate better monitoring of threats through the traffic flow. Privacy policies as well as comprehensive data security need to be given more investment. This should be coupled with sufficient training and provision of recurring guidelines for users. In the final analysis, there is no better solution but to go back to the fundamentals of online security and apply that throughout the four corners of IoT.

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