The Internet of Things is one of the latest innovations in the digital transformation era, linking everything to the Internet. It’s the fundamental technology behind smart houses, self-driving vehicles, smart energy meters, and smart cities. According to IoT experts, there will be more than 26 billion connected devices worldwide by 2021, up from just 6 billion in 2016. But there are some security challenges for the future of the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming how we live and work. Using a single network, we can connect and control a wide range of devices, from smartphones and laptops to home appliances and industrial equipment.
IoT is the concept of connecting objects and devices of all kinds to the web. There is also a crucial need to protect the Internet of Things devices and the networks to which they are connected. For business environments, IoT devices include production equipment, smart grids, building automation, and other personal IoT devices workers carry to work.
IoT systems have not been designed with protection in mind. Let us look at the significant challenges of IoT cybersecurity.
- Outdated Hardware and Software
As IoT devices are increasingly being used, the manufacturers of these devices focus on building new ones and not paying enough attention to safety. Most of these devices don’t get enough updates, while some never get a single one, these items are safe at the time of purchase. Still, they are vulnerable to attacks when hackers find any vulnerabilities or security issues. Not having updates can lead to a breach of data not only on the part of customers but also on the companies that manufacture them.
- Data Privacy Threat
In this digital environment, data security has become very complicated as it can be shared within a few seconds between different devices. One moment, it’s stored on the mobile, the next minute it’s stored on the web, and then on the cloud. All of these data are transferred or transmitted over the Internet, which may lead to data leakage. When the data is leaked, hackers will sell it to other organizations that breach data privacy and protection rights. This could also lead to security incidents.
- Usage of Automated Data Management Systems
From the data collection and networking point of view, the amount of data generated from the connected devices is too high to handle. For this, IoT managers and network experts would need to set new guidelines such that traffic patterns can be easily identified. However, the use of these devices can be a little dangerous, since even the slightest mistake when configuring can cause an outage.
- Predicting and Preventing Attacks
Cybercriminals are preemptively discovering new techniques for security threats. In such a situation, there is a need not only to recognize and fix vulnerabilities when they arise but also to learn how to anticipate and avoid new threats. New cloud services use threat intelligence to predict security issues. Other such techniques include AI-powered monitoring and analytical tools. Nonetheless, it isn’t easy to implement these strategies in IoT since the connected devices need to process the data immediately.
- Challenging to Figure Out if the System is Being Affected
Although it’s impossible to guarantee 100% security from security threats and breaches, the IoT device thing is that most users don’t know if their device is hacked. When there is a massive range of IoT devices, it becomes difficult for service providers to monitor them. It’s because an IoT system requires connectivity software, infrastructure, and protocols.
As a result, many apps tend to run without users realizing that they have been compromised.
Here are some solutions that you may implement to increase the security of your IoT devices
- IoT Security Analysis
IoT-related vulnerabilities and protection problems can be significantly minimized by introducing data analytics. This includes gathering, correlating, and analyzing data from various sources to help IoT protection providers recognize possible threats and stop these threats in the bud. Malicious and suspicious irregularities can then be identified by correlated data from a wide range of domains. It helps security experts to fix these anomalies and avoid them from having a detrimental effect on the connected devices.
- Public Key Infrastructure
The PKI is a collection of policies, software/hardware, and procedures necessary for the development, management, and distribution of digital certificates. Over the years, this security process has proven to be an effective solution to IoT security issues. PKI guarantees data encryption by both asymmetric and symmetric encryption methods, raising the chances of data theft to a bare minimum. Cryptographic key and X509 digital certificates are two of the IoT PKI authentication mechanisms that can be used and public or private key management, distribution, and revocation.
- Securing Network
IoT devices are attached to back-end systems that are previously linked to the Internet via an IoT network. To ensure its smooth operation, the IoT network needs to be protected and secured. Using certain endpoint protection features such as anti-malware, anti-virus, intrusion prevention, and firewalls, you can effectively secure the network and defend it from attacks.
- Ensuring Communication Protection
The IoT concept is based on the interaction between the associated devices. But, when communication is compromised, there will be a communication malfunction that can make the devices useless. Many people don’t know that communication should always be encrypted to ensure smooth communication. The same idea applies to communication between connected devices and interfaces, such as web apps and smartphone apps. IoT developers recommend that many notable ciphers be implemented: AES 256, HTTP, AES 128, and a host of others. This layer of protection makes the interface impregnable for potential hackers.
Cybersecurity Threats And Vulnerabilities Faced by IOT Devices
IoT is now pervasive and often represents a security weak link in enterprises. It’s far past time for organizations to account for IoT as part of their core endpoint security and edge security strategies.
Now, let’s look at some of the top IoT security vulnerabilities and how to harden your devices to prevent or mitigate them.
1. Unsecure Communications
One of the biggest risks associated with IoT is insecure communications. Data transmissions between devices is susceptible to interception by third parties. This could allow threat actors to gain access to sensitive information, like user passwords or credit card numbers.
Security Controls: Leverage encryption to protect data in transit, whenever possible. If you are unable to encrypt data in transit, then try to isolate the network in which the device resides. Segmentation will help reduce the attack vector associated with the device. Organizations can use BeyondTrust’s Privileged Remote Access to consolidate access to these segmented networks in a secure and encrypted manner.
2. Lack of IoT Security Updates
Once a device is released, it’s up to the manufacturer to provide updates to address new security risks. However, many IoT / IIoT manufacturers do not release timely updates. Many manufacturers stop releasing updates altogether after a certain point. This leaves IoT devices vulnerable to attack from known security flaws.
Security Controls: To protect against this, businesses should only use devices from manufacturers who have a good track record of releasing timely updates. To offset this risk, it is important your vulnerability management system is capable of scanning IoT devices, so be sure to add them to your list of devices that are scanned.
If you are unable to automate device patching, then attempt to fingerprint the devices as best you can. If there are no facilities enabled for you to install the patch, then at least you will know the potential vulnerabilities associated with the device. Then, you can take other mitigating actions to protect it.
3. Insufficient Authentication and Password Hygiene
Insufficient authentication hygiene means the device lacks adequate measures to verify users are who they claim to be. This could allow external attackers, as well as insider threat actors, to access IoT endpoints and systems that should be off-limits.
Security Controls: To protect against this threat, businesses should use strong authentication methods, like two-factor authentication or biometrics. In addition, drive access to IoT devices through a secure centralized infrastructure access solution like Privileged Remote Access. Also, implement a method for:
a) discovering new IoT devices as they are added to your network, and
b) rotating the passwords associated with the accounts on the device.
Almost all devices have one or more privileged accounts that are part of the operating system. You can use a solution like BeyondTrust Password Safe to discover, onboard, and systematically manage these passwords. But since IoT devices usually have very lightweight operating systems, it’s not possible to install an agent on the device to enforce security policies for accounts. So, you need to take other steps, like network segmentation and good password hygiene, to protect your IoT devices.
IoT continues to revolutionize how businesses operate and how consumers live their lives. It is a key part of the digital transformation wave on which so many companies are now riding. However, many organizations have still not adequately considered how to protect IoT as part their overall cybersecurity planning.
Common Security Challenges Faced by IOT Devices
IoT security is an umbrella term that covers the strategies, tools, processes, systems, and methods used to protect all aspects of the internet of things. Included in IoT security is the protection of the physical components, applications, data, and network connections to ensure the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of IoT ecosystems.
Security challenges abound, because of the high volume of flaws regularly discovered in IoT systems. Robust IoT security includes all facets of protection, including hardening components, monitoring, keeping firmware updated, access management, threat response, and remediation of vulnerabilities. IoT security is critical as these systems are sprawling and vulnerable, making them a highly-targeted attack vector. Securing IoT devices from unauthorized access ensures that they do not become a gateway into other parts of the network or leak sensitive information.
IoT security vulnerabilities are found in everything from vehicles and smart grids to watches and smart home devices. For example, researchers found webcams that could be easily hacked to gain access to networks and smartwatches containing security vulnerabilities that allowed hackers to track the wearer’s location and eavesdrop on conversations.
IoT is widely believed to be one of the most significant security vulnerabilities that impact nearly everyone—consumers, organizations, and governments. For all of the convenience and value derived from IoT systems, the risks are unparalleled. The importance of IoT security cannot be overstated, as these devices provide cybercriminals with a vast and accessible attack surface.
IoT security provides the vital protections needed for these vulnerable devices. Developers of IoT systems are known to focus on the functionality of the devices and not on security. This amplifies the importance of IoT security and for users and IT teams to be responsible for implementing protections.
As noted above, IoT devices were not built with security in mind. This results in myriad IoT security challenges that can lead to disastrous situations. Unlike other technology solutions, few standards and rules are in place to direct IoT security. In addition, most people do not understand the inherent risks with IoT systems. Nor do they have any idea about the depth of IoT security challenges. Among the many IoT security issues are the following:
- Lack of visibility
Users often deploy IoT devices without the knowledge of IT departments, which makes it impossible to have an accurate inventory of what needs to be protected and monitored.
- Limited security integration
Because of the variety and scale of IoT devices, integrating them into security systems ranges from challenging to impossible.
- Open-source code vulnerabilities
Firmware developed for IoT devices often includes open-source software, which is prone to bugs and vulnerabilities.
- Overwhelming data volume
The amount of data generated by IoT devices make data oversight, management, and protection difficult.
- Poor testing
Because most IoT developers do not prioritize security, they fail to perform effective vulnerability testing to identify weaknesses in IoT systems.
- Unpatched vulnerabilities
Many IoT devices have unpatched vulnerabilities for many reasons, including patches not being available and difficulties accessing and installing patches.
- Vulnerable APIs
APIs are often used as entry points to command-and-control centers from which attacks are launched, such as SQL injection, distributed denial of service (DDoS), man-in-the-middle (MITM), and breaching networks
- Weak passwords
IoT devices are commonly shipped with default passwords that many users fail to change, giving cybercriminals easy access. In other cases, users create weak passwords that can be guessed.
How to Maintain The End-to-end Security of IoT Devices
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 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, and network security, and make sure that the overall IoT infrastructure and system are secure from IoT vulnerabilities.
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.
Emerging IoT Security Technologies
The advantages of IoT technology for businesses have introduced prolific improvements for owners and users. For example, emerging IoT technologies can help develop resilient supply chains. At the same time, businesses could leverage IoT applications to optimize asset usage and maintenance. Users could capitalize on the benefits of IoT for streamlining the use of internet-connected devices. However, IoT is still developing, and emerging technologies will play a crucial role in shaping its future. Here is an outline of the top technologies that would influence the IoT domain.
One of the prominent concerns in using IoT networks is the safety of user data. IoT networks are massive, and the exchange of sensitive user data among the devices in the network opens up more vulnerabilities. The answers to “What are the latest technologies in IoT?” would draw attention to blockchain technology. Blockchain is gradually becoming a vital technology supporting IoT as it can ensure data security. The immutable nature of records on the blockchain network can help safeguard user data and transaction details.
At the same time, the transparency of the distributed ledger in blockchain technology could help strengthen IoT security. On top of it, the element of decentralization with blockchain would ensure that different network nodes could interact seamlessly with each other. Therefore, blockchain technology will be one of the prominent technologies that will dominate IoT.
- Digital Twins
The outline of an IoT technologies list would also point to the concept of a digital twin. The term ‘digital twin’ was conceived in 2020 and has recently gained traction in the IoT ecosystem. Digital twins are virtual representations of a real process, system or object. You can think of them as virtual replicas of physical products, systems or processes. The virtual duplicates could replicate the functionalities of the physical counterpart.
As a result, digital twins qualify as innovative additions among IoT network technologies for unique use cases. Digital twins use sensors in the physical item for collecting real-time data, thereby ensuring coherence. The primary uses of digital twins are evident in optimization, modification and analysis for testing different scenarios without any risks. In addition, digital twins can also serve vital benefits in monitoring and control of asset usage and performance.
- 5G Connectivity
The next addition among the answers to “What are the latest technologies in IoT?” would point to 5G. Wireless connectivity is one of the basic requirements for creating and ensuring the functionality of IoT networks. 5G not only serves as a stage in the evolution of wireless technology but also offers the power to achieve the full potential of IoT.
Stronger connectivity will be essential for ensuring trustworthy and high-performance IoT devices. 5G wireless connectivity could offer the benefits of lower latency, extensive coverage, real-time data processing and network slicing. Most importantly, 5G connectivity can reduce the urban-rural divide by bringing robust networks to rural areas.
- IoT Security
The outline of significant technology trends in IoT would also include IoT security. The vulnerability of IoT networks is a crucial concern for developers and businesses. Security technologies will take the limelight in the IoT market with new developments in technology for securing IoT devices and platforms from physical and online attacks.
In addition, the Internet of Things emerging technologies in security would also resolve novel issues such as the impersonation of devices in IoT networks. IoT security technologies would also help tackle denial-of-sleep attacks, which can drain the batteries of IoT devices. Security technologies would also help in encrypting communications, thereby preventing attacks.
- IoT Hardware
The promising trends for IoT would also focus on introducing new and innovative developments in IoT hardware. One of the foremost highlights in IoT technologies examples is the need for efficient sensors and computer architecture. Interestingly, 2024 would bring relief for IoT manufacturers with a reduction in chip shortages with new production lines. The lower prices of different chips, such as NAND flash and dynamic RAM chips, could encourage lower pricing of end products.
Hardware developments in IoT technologies would also focus on modifications in computer architectures. Most of the attention on new computer architectures would revolve around modifications in memory and storage approaches. The new Internet of Things technologies would restrict data movement alongside ensuring data processing with low power consumption.
- IoT Data Analytics
Another promising entry among top IoT technologies would draw attention toward IoT data analytics. Data is one of the most significant strategic assets for every business. Quality insights from IoT data could help design productive business strategies and ensure supply chain integrity.
New Internet of Things analytics technologies could help incorporate new algorithms, architectures and data structures alongside machine learning functionalities. Decentralized analytics architecture can help design secure IoT networks without compromising knowledge-sharing functionalities.
- Low-Power Networks
Collecting emerging IoT technologies in 2024 would also include low-power IoT networks. As a matter of fact, many IoT experts believe that low-power networks can outperform IoT networks in various areas. Low-power, short-range IoT networks could dominate wireless connectivity with IoT networks by 2025. In addition, IoT applications for wide-area coverage could rely on low-power wide-area networks. The wide-area networks could offer the advantages of higher connection density, lower operating costs and bandwidth alongside improved battery life.
- IoT Device Management
The next big frontier in technological advancement within the IoT industry would reflect IoT device management. You can find answers to “What are the latest technologies in IoT?” with IoT device management technologies emerging now. The IoT device management technologies could help IoT devices become aware of their location, state and context. At the same time, they can maintain compliance with data taxonomies and extend beyond the limits of conventional data management.
- Mesh Sensors
The detailed description of an IoT technologies list would also highlight the importance of mesh sensors. Mesh sensors can serve as a vital component for designing wearables you would use in the future. They can help accurately track body movement and monitor other vital stats such as sleep quality, heart rate and exercise. Mesh sensors could open up new roads for integrating Internet of Things technologies in users’ clothing.
- Battery-free Sensors
The final addition among IoT technologies that would have a dominant influence in 2024 would point to battery-free sensors. Besides complementing IoT network technologies, battery-free sensors could introduce efficient IoT network designs. With the ability to generate their own power, battery-free sensors could avoid battery replacement and power consumption concerns. One example of a battery-free sensor manufacturer is Eversensor.
Cybersecurity Leadership Training Programs
The field of cyber security focuses on network and data protection at various levels. Whether looking for an accredited online program or a traditional on-campus program, students have many options when it comes to cyber security degrees.
Associate Degree in Cyber Security
An associate degree in cyber security is a two-year program appropriate for the following types of situations:
- Securing entry-level work as a computer support technician or a related position
- An additional qualification for those already working in the field
- A step on a path to a four-year cyber security degree
Associate degree coursework covers the vulnerabilities of various hardware and software systems, network technologies, and key cyber security concepts such as security administration and intrusion detection. Many programs also prepare students for certification exams often required for full-time employment, ranging from basic CompTIA Security+ to ISC2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
Bachelor’s Degree in Cyber Security
While there are plenty of bachelor’s degrees in cyber security, it is also possible to enter the field with a four-year degree in a related field such as computer science, computer engineering or even mathematics.
The curriculum in bachelor’s degree in cyber security program is similar to that of a computer science degree. It begins with a foundation in programming, database applications and statistics. Then students have the opportunity to delve into more advanced topics such as artificial intelligence, cryptography and ethical hacking.
Graduates are qualified for employment as cyber security analysts, information security analysts and computer forensic analysts.
Master’s Degree in Cyber Security
Master’s degree programs in cyber security teach students how to be sophisticated practitioners in the industry as they protect vital computer networks and electronic infrastructures from attack. Coursework in these two-year programs investigates key technologies such as digital forensics, cryptography and biometrics. Graduates are prepared for careers as security-application programmers, penetration testers, vulnerability analysts and security architects. Some students choose employment developing security products.
D.Sc. Degree in Cyber Security
For those with a solid foundation in computer science, the D.Sc. in cyber security is an opportunity to combine their computer science emphasis with applied research in IT security. Students learn the latest techniques in specialized cyber operations activities such as reverse engineering, data collection, analysis of malicious code, and software exploitation. Graduates can bring their knowledge to intelligence, military and law enforcement organizations as well as employers in data-driven industries.
The D.Sc. in cyber security program typically takes students 3-5 years to complete and includes a dissertation. Although there are online programs, students are usually required to complete annual on-site research seminars.