The internet is no longer just a network of traditional computing devices like servers, desktops, and smartphones. In fact, the number of internet-connected gadgets is increasing so quickly that they’re already well on their way to overtaking conventional devices. By 2025, the number of connected devices is expected to near 40 million, or over five times the world’s population.
While the Internet of Things (IoT) is a driving force behind what many are calling the fourth industrial revolution, there is also cause for alarm. That’s because every new device connected to a network is another potential entry point to hackers. One of the most poignant examples of recent years was when hackers accessed the high roller database of a Las Vegas casino via a connected fish tank!
Here are some of the challenges and security threats you need to be ready for:
1. Vulnerable devices
Manufacturers are already releasing a vast number of new IoT devices every day as they scramble to keep up with soaring demand. Especially since there aren’t many widely followed universal standards for securing IoT devices, many manufacturers release devices with glaring firmware vulnerabilities.
Businesses must be extremely careful about which devices they buy, and only work with highly reputable vendors that promise enterprise-grade security and support.
2. Physical security
One of the biggest benefits of IoT is also one of the greatest security risks. Connected devices are meant to run with little or no human intervention, which also means they’re often installed in remote locations that aren’t readily accessible. Sometimes, they can go for months without anyone physically checking up on them. Naturally, this isolation leaves them at an increased threat of theft or tampering.
Every IoT device must be protected against these physical threats. If they store data locally, then that data must be encrypted, and physical access to the device must be locked behind two levels of authentication. All data transmitted between the device and the wider network should also be encrypted.
3. Update management
It’s virtually an inevitability that any software-bearing device will develop vulnerabilities at some point after its release. Just like your desktop operating system needs regular security updates, an IoT device will need firmware updates to address potential vulnerabilities or fix any bugs discovered after its release.
Some IoT devices are physically isolated and spread over vast areas, while others include essential industrial control systems that can’t easily be taken offline without causing major disruption. That’s why it’s essential to have a centralized and straightforward way to push any updates remotely and in a way that doesn’t cause unnecessary disruption.
4. Botnet infections
The appearance of the Mirai botnet malware in 2016 demonstrated just how vulnerable most IOT devices can be. While a single device might not pose a significant threat by itself, botnets may be programmed to spread across thousands of IoT devices connected to a single network to cause widespread disruption or data theft.
With botnets targeting IoT networks, it’s even possible to bring down entire electricity grids or bring public transportation systems to a standstill. Businesses must be extremely careful to protect their entire network and maintain complete visibility over all their connected assets.
5. Privacy concerns
By now, most of us have heard the stories about connected smart speaker systems or smart TVs spying on people. It might sound like something from dystopian science fiction, but it’s a fact that many IoT devices have vulnerabilities that can record conversations, take over security cameras, and much more.
Security, privacy, and regulatory compliance should be absolutely central to your adoption of IoT devices. It’s imperative that you properly manage access controls and be extremely careful when using IoT devices to collect, store, or transmit potentially sensitive information.
HERO Managed Services provides unlimited IT support and services to help you innovate fast without adding risk to your company. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.