By Ashley Lukehart, Co-Owner of Parachute.
The internet of things, or IoT, has made our lives much more convenient in many ways. IoT gives electronic devices the means to communicate with each other via the internet – and they no longer need human interaction to do it.
IoT technology gives our devices the ability to do more for us and make our lives more efficient. However, IoT is also a relatively new technology, which means there are key security threats to be aware of. Without protective measures in place, IoT devices can be vulnerable to cyber attacks and other security threats.
Here are some of the top IoT security threats to be aware of in 2022 and how you can protect your devices.
What is IoT?
The internet of things is a broad network of electronic devices, software programs, and other items that can connect to the internet to share data. You probably already use IoT devices in your personal life without realizing it. For example, many modern cars can connect to your mobile phone or smartwatch using the internet, allowing you to share playlists, location data, and more between devices.
At home, the IoT can connect smart devices like your thermostat, refrigerator, lights, and more, which helps your home run more efficiently. In a professional setting, you might see IoT products like smart locks, energy monitoring devices, and even smart scheduling devices.
Top IoT Security Threats in 2022
1. Unencrypted data storage
IoT devices collect a huge amount of valuable data throughout the day, much of which is stored in the cloud. This data can make IoT devices a target for hackers and other cybercriminals, so it is essential that it is stored securely. It’s also very important that whenever data is transferred between devices, it is done securely, ideally with an encrypted connection.
Unfortunately, many IoT devices do not yet have reliable firewalls and other security features, which leaves this data very vulnerable. There are also some scenarios in which it is difficult to guarantee a secure connection between devices – for example, transferring data between a smartphone and other devices is often done via public WiFi networks.
When data isn’t stored properly, it leaves you vulnerable to malware. Malware can affect the way your devices run, and in the worst case scenario, it can even lock you out of your devices and hold your data for ransom.
2. Unsecured financial information
Some IoT devices have access to their users’ financial information. When these devices have access to things like your credit card or banking information, they quickly become a target for hackers.
This is a particularly worrisome problem for financial companies that use IoT devices at work. As IoT and AI technology expands, you can manage many different aspects of your business using these tools. However, it can put both your business and your customers at risk if these devices have access to unsecured financial information.
3. Access to physical property
Another huge security risk to consider is the fact that IoT devices are often connected to physical property in some way. For example, many homes, businesses, and cars now have locks and security systems that are connected to the IoT. This means that if someone hacks the device, they could have access to your physical property and even threaten your physical safety.
4. Weak passwords and ID verification
A strong password is essential for protecting your devices. Unfortunately, many IoT devices are not password protected. Even with password-protected devices, many users choose options that are very simple and easy to guess. This leaves your IoT devices very vulnerable to hackers.
In addition to passwords, many IoT devices use other forms of identity verification. For example, many devices use biometric verification like fingerprints or even facial recognition as a form of identity verification. While this can be more secure than just using a password, it’s important to make sure this identity verification data is stored and managed securely.
5. Botnets and malicious IoT devices
IoT allows electronic devices to connect and talk to each other – but not all of these devices are created with good intentions. Cybercriminals can take existing IoT devices and use them to infiltrate secure networks.
IoT devices are also particularly vulnerable to botnet attacks. Botnets are networks of devices that are used to run malicious bots and transfer malware. Botnets can infiltrate IoT networks to put ransomware, spyware, or other forms of malware on secure devices, compromising your financial and personal security.
How To Protect Your IoT Devices
Although these security threats are ever-present for IoT devices, there are things you can do to keep them secure. Here are a few things you can do to protect your IoT devices.
Update your systems regularly. Security threats are constantly evolving and changing. This means that developers need to update these systems regularly to address these security threats. It’s important to apply these updates to your IoT devices whenever new ones are released to minimize vulnerabilities.
Choose strong passwords. A weak password can leave your IoT devices extremely vulnerable. When selecting passwords, choose options that are difficult to guess and include a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. Additionally, you should make sure to update these passwords at regular intervals – ideally every few months. If your IoT device offers two-factor authentication, you should also make sure you are using this feature.
Be smart about the WiFi you’re using. Try to avoid connecting your IoT devices to public WiFi networks, as these tend not to have strong security measures. Additionally, you may want to create a guest network specifically for your IoT devices at home – this can give them an extra layer of protection.
The internet of things is still relatively new, at least when it comes to consumer IoT devices, so we can expect to see security measures improve as this technology grows. When purchasing any new IoT device, it’s very important to be aware of relevant security threats and take steps to protect your networks. While IoT devices are incredibly convenient, they can also be a major target for cybercriminals.