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Articles / Internet Of Things

Warning: Your IoT devices are at risk of cyber-attack

IoT devices at risk

Over the last few years, Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices have become more common in homes and offices. Smart speakers, smart thermostats and lights, and other technologies are everywhere.

IoT devices make everyday lives much more convenient. They also provide so much valuable data. For example, connected cars can use assisted driving features. Healthcare devices give detailed patient information.

But this same connectivity also creates an inherent risk in all IoT devices. The simple fact is that anything connected to the internet is vulnerable to cyber-attack. To make things worse, many of these devices are not even secure. They have nowhere near the same number of safeguards that you can find in smartphones and computers.

The result is a potential avalanche of cyber-attacks waiting to happen. Researchers have found that 98% of all IoT data traffic is not encrypted. It doesn’t take much for anybody to get their hands on this data.

Over half of IoT devices are vulnerable to medium and high-severity attacks. In other words, IoT devices are easy targets for hackers. And it’s not only their data that’s at risk. Often, cybercriminals can use these devices as access points to get into the network of a company. That’s where hackers can wreak serious havoc.

Related read: Top 7 serious reasons for data backup in 2020

What Are the Major Threats to IoT?

Organizations must be vigilant about these top risks to IoT Devices:

1.    Botnets

Botnets combine many systems to take control of the victim’s devices and systems remotely. From here, cybercriminals can harvest confidential data and execute cyber-attacks. IoT devices are especially vulnerable to these attacks.

The Mirai botnet, for example, has affected 2.5 million devices, including smart cameras, routers, and printers. And, it’s only getting worse. Based on the success of these attacks, cybercriminals created even more advanced IoT botnets.

2.    Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

During the Man-in-the-Middle Attacks, hackers intercept communications by breaching communication channels. Soon after, they gain control over communication to send illegitimate messages.

Since IoT devices share data in real-time, Man-in-the-Middle attacks threaten smart refrigerators, industrial equipment, and autonomous vehicles. Their reliance on this functionality can have disastrous consequences.

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3.    Denial of Service

Denial-of-service (DoS) attacks overwhelm systems by sending many requests. DoS usually doesn’t steal critical data. But it can disable businesses, harming their productivity or reputation.

Since IoT devices are easy targets, cybercriminals can launch attacks on them too. Flooding networks with requests choke their resources and knock them offline.

4.    Data Theft

Almost every day, you can hear stories of data breaches. They compromise the data of millions. Cybercriminals now target IoT devices, including smartwatches and smart thermostats, for the same reason. It helps them to gain information about individual users and organizations.

After attacking these unsecured devices, they can then jump onto company networks. That may allow them to infiltrate business systems and other company resources. These attacks can spread like a contagion. Cybercriminals can harvest customer and employee data to inflict damage further.

5.    Remote Recording

There are vulnerabilities in IoT devices that criminals use to record video or audio footage of victims. While these attacks are less common, they are also dangerous.

It puts businesses at threat of their confidential information getting leaked. Even if an IoT camera is secure, other IoT devices with lower security protocols can give hackers what they need to infiltrate a network. Then they can access the same camera not long after.

Related read: Top 5 hacker vulnerabilities in your systems in 2020- and how to fix them

How to Secure IoT Devices

Despite these risks, the popularity of IoT devices won’t stop growing over the next few years. But it takes time for manufacturers to catch up and institute the right security enhancements.

There are several easy steps both businesses and individual users can take to secure their IoT devices. To begin with, keeping the connection to the internet of each IoT device encrypted is essential.  And one can do it the same way they encrypt their computer connection—using a virtual private network (VPN). It creates an encrypted tunnel between the device and the internet. The connection of a device travels through it, staying unreadable to any snooping party on the network. It’s the easiest way to create a private, secure, and anonymous connection.

There are many VPN services available, having different pricing and features. Currently, NordVPN is the best option. And if you install a NordVPN on your router, all IoT devices connected to it stay secure. But you can also find VPNs that are compatible with IoT devices so you can get direct protection on the device.

Combine this with access management controls to bolster IoT security further. It is a must in business settings where IoT devices must be isolated in secure and separate network channels.

Read next: IoT security comparison: Alibaba Cloud, AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud

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