Identifying IoT security issues and threats is the first step toward addressing them. Your protective measures will be effective only when you identify these issues and structure your preventive strategies accordingly.
One can categorize IoT security issues into technological challenges and security challenges. IoT devices’ heterogeneous and ubiquitous nature contributes to technical challenges primarily related to scalability, wireless technology, distributed nature, and energy. On the contrary, security challenges include authentication, confidentiality, integrity, and end-to-end security.
Security goals of confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA) apply to IoT devices, and achieving these goals poses a challenge, considering restrictions and limitations in terms of computational and power resources.
IoT devices or objects should identify and authenticate one another. However, when so many entities (devices, people, services, processing units, etc.) are involved, authentication becomes challenging.
Moreover, authentication gets tricky when objects in IoT interact with each other for the first time. You’ll need a proper mechanism that authenticates entities in every interaction to address this IoT security challenge.
IoT devices encounter several security challenges that pose a risk for organizations and enterprises using them.
Here are a few notable IoT security challenges:
- Improper handling of device-related security risks, which primarily emerges because these devices don’t get regular updates.
- Weak credentials and default passwords make devices vulnerable to brute force attacks or password hacking.
- Ongoing hybridization of both ransomware and malware strains makes devices vulnerable to different types of attacks.
- Use of IoT botnets for mining cryptocurrency risks the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data in IoT devices.
IoT security challenges are spread across different layers of IoT architecture - perception layer, network layer, and application layer.
The purpose of the perception (or sensors) layer is to collect data from the environment with the help of actuators and sensors.
Here are a few security challenges in the perception layer:
- Signals are transmitted between sensor nodes that use wireless technology. Its efficiency can be compromised using disturbing waves.
- Attackers can intercept IoT devices’ sensor nodes as they operate in outdoor environments. Attackers can tamper with the hardware of the device.
- Network topology is dynamic as nodes can be moved to different places.
- IoT perception layer mainly consists of radio-frequency identification devices (RFIDs) and sensors. Their computational power and storage capacity are limited, making them prone to IoT security threats.
- Replay attacks can exploit the confidentiality of the perception layer through spoofing or replaying an IoT device’s identity information.
These IoT security challenges can be addressed by adopting encryption, authentication, and access controls.
The network layer of IoT infrastructure enables data routing and transmission to various IoT hubs and devices connected to the Internet.
The security challenges associated with the network layers are as follows:
- Due to remote access mechanisms and data exchanges, confidentiality and privacy of data are at risk. Attackers can exploit them through traffic analysis, passive monitoring, or eavesdropping.
- If the keying material of the devices is exposed, it can compromise the secure communication channel.
- Heterogeneous network components make it challenging to use current network protocols.
These security challenges in the network layer can be addressed by adopting protocols and IoT security software to enable an object in IoT to respond to abnormal behaviors and situations.
The application layer achieves the purpose of IoT by creating a smart environment. This layer guarantees the authenticity, integrity, and confidentiality of the data.
The IoT security challenges in the application layer are as follows:
- It’s challenging to integrate different applications as they have different authentication mechanisms to ensure data privacy and identity authentication.
- Many connected devices cause large overheads on applications that analyze the data, impacting the availability of service.
- Improper identification of how different users will interact with the application, the amount of data safe to reveal, and people responsible for managing these applications.
You need proper tools to address security challenges in the application layer and control the amount of data safe to disclose, and how and when it’s being used, and by whom.
There are a few general protective measures that you can set to ensure IoT security. These include using authorized software in IoT devices. Also, when an IoT device is switched on, it should authenticate itself into the network before it collects or sends data.
It’s necessary to set up firewalls to filter packets sent to IoT endpoints, as they have limited computation capability and memory. You should also ensure that updates and patches are installed without consuming the additional bandwidth.
Apart from general security measures, you need to consider some unique security practices while planning the security of IoT devices. You need to ensure device security, network security, and make sure that the overall IoT infrastructure and system are secure.
You can adopt the following security practices to secure IoT devices:
- Ensure physical security: Keep IoT devices relatively isolated and protected from physical access.
- Deploy tamper-resistant devices: Deploy IoT devices that are tamper-resistant, where the device is disabled when tampered with.
- Update firmware and install patches: Be proactive in upgrading, updating firmware, and installing patches as soon as the manufacturer releases them.
- Perform dynamic testing: It exposes both code weaknesses and security vulnerabilities presented by the hardware.
- Protect data on device disposal: Specify procedures to discard IoT devices when they become obsolete. Improperly discarded devices can pose a threat to privacy and serve various malicious purposes.
- Use robust authentication: Avoid using default passwords as they introduce a threat of password hacking. Use sophisticated passwords for authentication and resist educated guessing.
- Encourage the use of adaptive authentication: Adaptive authentication or context-aware authentication (CAA) uses contextual information and machine learning algorithms to assess the risk of malice. If the risk is high, the user will be asked for a multi-factor token.
- Use strong encryption and protocols: Maintain secure data transmission by using strong encryption in various IoT protocols ( Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave, Thread, Wi-Fi, cellular, 6LoWPAN, NFC, etc.)
- Minimize device bandwidth: Restrict network capability and bandwidth to the least that is required for the device to function and avoid being targets of IoT-borne distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
- Segment the network: Divide networks into smaller local networks using virtual local area networks (VLANs), IP address ranges, and their combinations. This allows you to create different security zones and represent different segments controlled by firewalls.
- Protect sensitive information: Avoid leakages in sensitive personally identifiable information (PII) by restricting the discovery of these devices. You’d need proper service mechanisms and authentication protocols so that authorized clients can discover the IoT device.
Internet of things software solutions protect intelligent devices and IoT hubs from unwanted or unauthorized access. These software solutions minimize risks associated with connecting, managing, and drawing data from IoT devices by providing a secured data pipeline and constantly updated threat awareness and protection.
To qualify for inclusion in the IoT security software solutions list, a product must:
- Comply with the latest IoT devices and technologies
- Support security measures essential to safeguard inter-device communication and facilitate user access cases
- Verify device ownership and administrative license with extensive authentication
- Alert device owners when inter-device communication is intercepted, or other situations arise
- Assist with software updates as they are released.