With the exponential growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), it is crucial to understand security solutions for the threats associated with these devices like malware and botnets and how to protect ourselves. In this article, we will explore the common threats that arise with IoT devices and provide practical and effective measures to safeguard against them.

What Is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the network of interconnected physical devices, vehicles, appliances, and other objects embedded with sensors, software, and connectivity capabilities that enable them to collect and exchange data over the Internet. In simpler terms, it is the concept of connecting everyday objects to the internet to facilitate communication and data sharing between them.

The IoT ecosystem consists of various components:

1. Devices: These are physical objects or “things” embedded with sensors, actuators, and communication capabilities. Examples include smart thermostats, wearables, home appliances, industrial machinery, and even vehicles.

2. Sensors and Actuators: Sensors collect data from the environment or device itself, measuring parameters such as temperature, humidity, motion, or light. Actuators, on the other hand, enable devices to perform actions based on data inputs.

3. Connectivity: IoT devices connect to the internet through various communication technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, cellular networks, or even satellite connections. This connectivity allows devices to share data with other devices, servers, or cloud platforms.

4. Data Processing: IoT devices generate vast amounts of data. To make sense of this data and extract valuable insights, it is processed using cloud computing, edge computing, or distributed computing technologies.

5. Cloud Services: Cloud platforms provide storage, processing power, and analytical capabilities for IoT data. They enable the aggregation, analysis, and visualization of data, facilitating real-time monitoring and decision-making.

6. Applications and Services: IoT applications and services utilize the collected data to provide useful functionalities, automate processes, and enhance user experiences. Examples include smart home systems, industrial automation, healthcare monitoring, and environmental monitoring.

The potential of IoT lies in its ability to connect and integrate diverse devices and systems, enabling new possibilities in various domains such as smart homes, healthcare, agriculture, transportation, and more. By leveraging IoT technology, businesses can optimize operations, improve efficiency, enhance user experiences, and drive innovation.

However, it is important to note that the increasing adoption of IoT devices also raises concerns related to privacy, security, and data protection. Safeguarding IoT devices and data is crucial to mitigate potential risks and ensure a secure and trustworthy IoT environment.

What Are IoT Devices?

IoT devices encompass a wide range of interconnected devices that communicate and share data. From smart home appliances to wearables and industrial systems, they offer convenience and automation in various aspects of our lives. These devices collect and transmit data, making them vulnerable to potential threats.

Smart devices, also known as connected devices or Internet of Things (IoT) devices, are physical objects or appliances that are embedded with sensors, software, and connectivity features to enable them to connect and interact with the Internet or other devices. These devices are designed to enhance convenience, automation, and connectivity in various aspects of our lives.

Smart devices come in various forms and serve different purposes. They can include smartphones, tablets, smart speakers, smart thermostats, smart TVs, smart home security systems, wearable devices, smart appliances (such as refrigerators, washing machines, and ovens), smart lighting systems, and more. Essentially, any device that can connect to the internet and communicate with other devices or systems falls under the category of smart devices.

These devices typically collect and exchange data through sensors, communicate with other devices or servers using wireless technologies (such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or Zigbee), and can be remotely controlled or monitored through dedicated applications or voice assistants.

Smart devices offer numerous benefits, including increased convenience, energy efficiency, improved home automation, enhanced security, and personalized experiences. However, they also bring potential security and privacy risks, as they are susceptible to vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers or malicious actors. Thus, it is essential for users to be aware of these risks and take appropriate measures to protect their personal information and the devices on their network.

iot security threats

Top 4 IoT Security Threats

1. Malware

The security of IoT devices is especially weak, making them easy targets for malware. In the first half of 2018, malware made to target IoT devices grew three-fold. This is an especially dangerous trend, resembling a snowball going down a long slope.

Infected IoT devices can be used for various illegal activities: from spying on you and your home to extracting sensitive information and causing you financial damage. Your devices can even be used in DDoS attacks – that’s when your device, along with thousands of other infected devices, floods a server with fraudulent requests. If your favorite website crashes – that may be a result of a DDoS attack of infected IoT devices.

2. Weak Passwords

Usually, an IoT device does not get a unique password and login, but a default one, which is shared among many other devices. In addition, these passwords and logins are not especially complex – they can be as simple as password: user123 / login: userQWERTY.

From the manufacturer’s standpoint, it’s a practice that saves time and money. From a cyber-security standpoint, it’s a hacker’s dream. Finding out the default passwords and logins or brute-forcing them is frighteningly easy.

Even though most IoT devices include instructions on how to change the default password, this hardly helps – users tend to ignore this as optional.

3. Cybersecurity is Costly

IoT manufacturers are not negligent, they simply do not possess infinite resources. On a rush to sell against technical limitations and time constraints, corners are cut.

An IoT device is a much simpler gadget than your laptop or phone, so programming it is no easy task. With limited computing power to work with, manufacturers run out of the road before implementing encryption and other security measures.

4. Tracking

Finally, your devices may be secure and still compromise your privacy, and do it by design. A lot of IoT gadgets track your activity (for example, smart TVs can track what you are watching) and send it to the manufacturers, who then sell your data to advertisers. The next time you see an internet ad that is eerily specific to your needs, tracking might be the answer.

These leaks can also happen by accident. For example, Alexa accidentally recorded private conversations and sent them to other users.

How to Secure IoT Devices

  • Change the IoT device password from the factory default to a more secure one.
  • Don’t buy and allow smart devices on your network you don’t actually need.
  • Always update your devices with verified security patches.
  • Get a VPN provider. It will encrypt your traffic, and make your private data truly private. In addition, it will block incoming unauthorized connections.
  • Secure your VPN network on the router level. If you have a router with VPN Integration, you can turn your router into a VPN hub. With this, any device connected to the router will be encrypted by the VPN.

Check out some of our most popular providers:

$3.19
PER MONTH
SIGN UP HERE!
  • Access 5000+ servers worldwide
  • No logs policy
$6.67
PER MONTH
SIGN UP HERE!
  • 3,000+ VPN servers in 90+ countries
  • 5-Star Customer Support
$2.29
PER MONTH
SIGN UP HERE!
  • Servers in 70+ countries
  • Port Forwarding, DDoS protection, and Dedicated IP Available as Add-ons

What Are the Best VPNs for Protecting My Smart Devices From Security Threats?

AX3000 WiFi 6 VPN FlashRouter

AX3000 WiFi 6 VPN FlashRouter
$119.99
$149.99
BUY NOW
  • Perfect for Medium Homes
  • Perfect for 20-30 Devices

Asus AX1800S FlashRouter

Asus AX1800S FlashRouter - Front View
$139.99
$249.99
BUY NOW
  • Easy Router Setup via Asus App
  • Blazing-fast Wi-Fi 6 (Wireless-AX) Speeds

Flint Wi-Fi 6 VPN Router by FlashRouters

Flint WiFi 6 AX1800 VPN Router by FlashRouters – Front View
$164.99
$229.99
BUY NOW
  • Supports WiFi 6 (Wireless-AX) speeds
  • Includes WireGuard Fast VPN Protocol Support

What Are Some Common Devices and Uses of IoT Systems and Devices?

Internet of Things (IoT) devices have a wide range of applications across various industries and sectors that need security standards to provide basic security from network attacks. Here are some common applications of IoT devices:

Smart Home

It enables the automation and control of various aspects of a home, such as lighting, thermostats, security systems, appliances, and entertainment systems. Users can remotely monitor and control these devices through smartphone apps or voice assistants.

Industrial Automation

They play a crucial role in industrial settings, enabling automation, data collection, and real-time monitoring. They are used for asset tracking, predictive maintenance, energy management, inventory management, and optimizing production processes.

Healthcare

They are used in healthcare to monitor patients remotely, track vital signs, manage medication adherence, and enable telemedicine services. These devices can improve patient care, enhance health monitoring, and provide early detection of health issues.

Agriculture

They are employed in precision farming to monitor soil moisture levels, weather conditions, crop growth, and automated irrigation systems. They help optimize resource utilization, improve crop yield, and enable smart farming practices.

 Smart Cities

They contribute to creating smart and sustainable cities. They are used for traffic management, waste management, smart lighting, environmental monitoring, public safety, and infrastructure optimization.

Logistics and Supply Chain

IoT devices enable real-time tracking and monitoring of assets, shipments, and inventory in logistics and supply chain operations. This helps improve efficiency, reduce losses, and enhance visibility throughout the supply chain.

Energy Management

IoT devices are employed in smart grid systems and energy management to monitor and control energy usage in homes, buildings, and industries. They enable intelligent energy consumption, optimize energy distribution, and support renewable energy integration.

Transportation and Fleet Management:

IoT devices are used in vehicles and transportation systems to collect data on performance, monitor fuel consumption, track location, and enable predictive maintenance. They improve safety, optimize routes, and enhance logistics operations.

Retail and Customer Experience

IoT devices are utilized in retail environments to track inventory, monitor customer behavior, enable personalized marketing, and provide seamless checkout experiences. They enhance customer engagement and optimize store operations.

Environmental Monitoring

IoT devices are deployed for environmental monitoring purposes, including air quality monitoring, water quality monitoring, and weather forecasting. They help in the early detection of environmental risks and enable data-driven decision-making.

What Are The Top IoT Security Vulnerabilities? What Are Some of the Threats And Risks To Be Aware Of When Purchasing IoT Devices?

IoT devices are vulnerable to outside attacks. Let’s explore some of the common issues and security threats associated with them.

Inadequate device security

One of the primary concerns with IoT devices is inadequate threat and security measures, making them vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Many IoT devices lack robust security features, leaving them susceptible to unauthorized access.

Manufacturers often don’t include the necessary internet of things security to counter even basic attacks from threats and vulnerabilities. Attackers can exploit these vulnerabilities to gain control of the device, steal sensitive information, or launch malicious activities. Moreover, the sheer number of IoT devices available in the market and their potential to connect to multiple networks and devices makes it even harder to secure them all. This creates a significant challenge for manufacturers, who often prioritize functionality and cost-effectiveness over security, especially when competing with other brands.

Additionally, many IoT continue have weak default passwords or are not updated regularly, leaving them vulnerable to attack from cyber criminals and hackers or even detect threats that allow access to the Iot. Even a minor flaw in the software or firmware can lead to significant vulnerabilities, as attackers can exploit the weaknesses to connect to IoT devices and gain access to the IoT.

The consequences of IoT device security breaches can be severe, especially in critical sectors such as healthcare, transportation, and energy. They can lead to physical harm, data breaches, financial loss, and reputational damage. It is essential to address the security concerns associated with IoT devices to ensure their safe and secure use. This includes implementing stronger encryption protocols, making sure your devices are updated, and regular vulnerability assessments.

Data privacy breaches

IoT devices often collect and transmit vast amounts of personal data, raising concerns about privacy breaches. Unauthorized access to this data can lead to identity theft, invasion of privacy, or misuse of personal information. Protecting the privacy of your data is crucial in an increasingly connected world.

Network vulnerabilities

The interconnected nature of devices introduces vulnerabilities in IoT devices. Weak or unprotected communication channels can be exploited by attackers to intercept or manipulate data. Additionally, vulnerabilities in one IoT device can potentially compromise the entire network, allowing unauthorized access to other devices or systems.

Secure your network

Mitigate the risk using security to set up a secure Wi-Fi network with strong encryption, such as WPA2 or WPA3, and a unique password.

Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for IoT device communications, as they can be vulnerable to interception. Segment your network to isolate IoT devices from critical systems, such as personal computers or servers, to minimize potential damage if a device is compromised.

Regularly monitor network traffic for any suspicious activity, unauthorized connections, or unusual data transfers.

Insecure Authentication and Weak Passwords

One of the most prevalent IoT security vulnerabilities is the use of default or weak passwords. Attackers can easily exploit such passwords to gain unauthorized access to IoT devices to access the IoT for sensitive data. To protect yourself, it is essential to change default passwords immediately upon device setup.

Opt for strong, unique passwords that incorporate a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Additionally, enable two-factor authentication whenever possible, as it adds an extra layer of security by requiring an additional verification step beyond a password.

Vulnerabilities in the Device Firmware

IoT devices rely on firmware to function, and outdated firmware can contain known vulnerabilities. Manufacturers regularly release firmware updates to address these vulnerabilities and enhance device security.

Users should check for firmware updates from the device manufacturer regularly and install them promptly. Enabling automatic updates whenever available ensures that devices receive the latest security patches and protection against emerging threats.

Inadequate Encryption

Inadequate encryption during data transmission makes IoT devices susceptible to interception and unauthorized access. To safeguard your data, ensure that your IoT devices utilize strong encryption protocols, such as SSL/TLS, when communicating with other devices or servers. Avoid using IoT devices that lack encryption or rely on weak encryption methods, as they expose your data to potential exploitation.

Lack of Device Authentication

Without robust device authentication mechanisms, malicious actors can impersonate IoT devices on the network and gain unauthorized access. Users should choose IoT devices that support secure authentication methods, such as digital certificates or secure key exchanges. These methods verify the identity of devices before allowing communication within the network, ensuring that only authorized devices can interact with each other.

Insecure or Unverified Third-Party Applications

Third-party applications are often used to extend the functionality of IoT devices. However, using insecure or unverified applications can introduce security risks. Users should download applications only from reputable sources, such as official app stores, and carefully review user ratings and reviews. Before installation, check the permissions required by the application and consider whether they are necessary for its intended purpose. Keeping applications updated with the latest versions and security patches is crucial to minimize potential vulnerabilities.

Weak Physical Security

Physical access to IoT devices can lead to unauthorized control, tampering, or data theft. Users should take precautions to ensure physical security. This includes placing IoT devices in secure locations, especially those that control critical systems. For remote access to devices, employing secure remote management protocols and utilizing strong passwords or two-factor authentication provides an additional layer of protection.

Inadequate Network Segmentation

Failure to properly segment IoT devices from other network resources can expose sensitive systems to potential attacks. Network segmentation involves creating separate network segments for IoT devices and critical systems. This can be achieved by implementing firewalls or VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks) to isolate IoT devices from critical resources. By isolating IoT devices, even if one device is compromised, the potential impact on the rest of the network is minimized.

Lack of Regular Security Audits

Regular security audits are essential for identifying vulnerabilities and detecting unauthorized access attempts in IoT devices and networks. Users should conduct periodic security audits to assess the overall security posture. Employ vulnerability scanning tools to identify potential weaknesses in IoT devices. Review access logs and device configurations regularly to identify any anomalies or suspicious activities. By actively monitoring and auditing IoT devices, users can proactively address vulnerabilities and prevent potential security breaches.

Inadequate Privacy Protections

IoT devices often collect and transmit personal data, making privacy protection crucial. Users should carefully review the privacy policies of IoT devices before purchasing or using them. Understand what data is collected, how it is stored, and whether it is shared with third parties. Opt for devices that offer granular control over data collection and sharing, allowing you to limit the collection of unnecessary data. Regularly deleting unnecessary data stored on IoT devices helps minimize potential privacy risks.

Lack of User Awareness

User awareness plays a vital role in mitigating IoT security risks. Staying informed about the latest IoT security practices and emerging threats is crucial. Users should follow reputable cybersecurity news sources, blogs, and forums to stay updated. By regularly updating their knowledge about security best practices for IoT devices, users can make informed decisions and take proactive measures to protect their devices and data.

Protecting Yourself from Attacks on IoT Devices

If you are looking to protect your IoT network from cybercriminals, learn some of the ways you can reduce your cyber attack surface.

Conduct thorough research before purchasing

Prioritize devices from reputable manufacturers known for their commitment to security. Research the manufacturer’s track record in providing regular security updates and addressing vulnerabilities promptly. Read user reviews and check for any reported security issues or concerns.

Strengthen device security

Change default passwords immediately upon device setup. Default passwords are often publicly available or easily guessable, making them a common entry point for attackers. Use strong, unique passwords for each device, incorporating a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. Regularly update firmware and software to ensure the latest security patches are installed, addressing known vulnerabilities. Enable two-factor authentication where available for an added layer of security.

Safeguard data privacy

Review the privacy policies of IoT devices before purchasing or using them. Understand how they handle and process data, including what data is collected, how it is stored, and whether it is shared with third parties. Limit data collection and sharing to necessary information only. Be cautious about granting unnecessary permissions to access personal data. Use encryption protocols (such as SSL/TLS) to secure data transmissions between devices and servers.

How Can I Protect Myself from IoT Vulnerabilities?

Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the best way to ensure IoT device security on items like Wi-Fi Security cameras, Smart Thermostats, and more are prevented. A VPN encrypts connections by tunneling user traffic through a remote server and back. By doing so, no prying eyes can read your private data!

How Do I Connect My IoT Device to a VPN?

In order to use a smart device or IoT device through a VPN, you will have to use a FlashRouter that offers full VPN coverage. IoT devices do not have native VPN support, but connecting to a VPN-ready FlashRouter will encrypt all devices on the network, including any Smart Wi-Fi devices!

Off-the-shelf routers with factory firmware are frequently full of bugs and hacker-ready backdoors. However, flashing a router with Open Source DD-WRT firmware eliminates these bugs and allows for a slew of previously unavailable feature sets, like the ability to use a connection to a VPN server on the device!

How Can A Router Help Reduce My IoT Attacks Surface?

Sometimes, completely overhauling your network isn’t even necessary. FlashRouters offers a number of customized solutions to ensure you get the smoothest networking experience possible.

First off, users can use their router alongside their existing router in a dual router setup. Instead of having to re-assemble your whole network, simply add a FlashRouter to your existing setup. Now, you can easily switch between networks, or extend your wireless network all around the house.

Alternatively, our expert tech team can upgrade your existing router’s firmware via our Flash My Router program. Our team will upgrade your router remotely and help you set up your network.

Additional Measures To Mitigate IoT Security Threats

Install reputable security software and firewalls on your network and devices to protect them from external threats. Ensure these security measures are regularly updated to defend against new vulnerabilities and attack techniques.

Regularly monitor and audit IoT device activities. Keep an eye out for any anomalies or unauthorized access attempts. If possible, implement logging and monitoring solutions to detect and respond to potential security incidents promptly.

Exercise caution when integrating third-party services or applications with your IoT devices. Ensure these integrations follow proper security practices and have a proven track record of protecting user data.

Stay informed about emerging threats and best security practices through reliable sources such as security blogs, forums, or vendor notifications. Keep your knowledge up to date to better understand new risks and proactively address them.

As IoT devices continue to play an integral role in our lives, understanding and addressing the associated threats is vital. By following the effective protection measures outlined above, you can mitigate risks and enjoy the benefits of IoT technology while safeguarding your privacy and security. Remember to be proactive, regularly update your devices, and stay informed about the evolving threat landscape. With these precautions, you can confidently embrace the potential of IoT devices without compromising your digital well-being.

Mitigating the impact of an IoT attack requires a multi-pronged approach. Firstly, organizations need to ensure that all IoT devices are properly secured with strong passwords and encryption protocols. This includes regular firmware updates and patches to address any vulnerabilities. Additionally, network segmentation can be implemented to isolate IoT devices from critical systems, preventing lateral movement in the event of an attack. Organizations should also monitor their networks for suspicious activity, using intrusion detection and prevention systems to quickly detect and respond to any attacks. Employee education is crucial. Training staff in security best practices, such as recognizing and reporting phishing emails, can help prevent attacks from being successful. Regular backups of critical data should be maintained, so that in the event of a breach, systems can be restored to their previous state. Finally, organizations can also partner with reputable security firms to conduct regular security audits and penetration testing to identify and address any vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.