The Internet of Things is giving birth to a whole new ecosystem of Internet-connected devices that are entirely different from the centralized structure of systems that we are used to.
The new device-connected world will see a massive exchange of sensitive information through cloud and other wireless means. While IoT promises huge benefits to individuals and businesses alike, it also brings along a hoard of security concerns that one cannot turn a blind eye to.
IoT, unlike common desktop systems, is built upon a foundation of embedded systems, the protocols of which vary from device to device and application to application. A unified central system wherein security measures can be established is absent presently. Hence, as the volume of data interchanged increases, the risks involved in security also reaches new heights.
How can security be defeated in the IoT ecosystem?
In a traditional system environment, viruses, malware, hacking, etc. are the primary forms of cyber attacks. In IoT, it takes a turn to focus on device theft, device manipulation, identity theft, eavesdropping, etc. to wreak havoc.
Once broken into, IoT can cause leave a severe dent to the personal lives of individuals or data integrity of organizations. For instance, it is possible to stalk a person by hacking into his/her fitness tracker. IoT based perimeter defense systems can be hacked into to gain access to classified sections of an office. IoT flaws can make this and even more possible for hackers.
IoT security is primarily defeated in 3 forms:
- Stealing the device
- Stealing the data stored in the device through eavesdropping
- Intellectual property theft
- Identify theft to authenticate user access
- Faking device credentials to access servers or data repositories
- Manipulating data in servers, routers, devices, data or clients
- Modifying actions of actuator systems
- Forcing system crashes to sabotage the entire function (For eg: IoT smart home security systems)
4 broad ways how IoT security can be strengthened
Although there are scary perils to IoT security, a safety net for these Things can be created with the help of advanced security measures.
Devices can be authenticated and data encrypted before transmission and exchange. Encryption ensures that the data is deciphered and is left inaccessible to the hacker in its original form. Device authentication ensures that device manipulation is prevented thus avoid the pitfalls of autonomous control in the hands of hackers.
Code Signing Certificates
Code signing certificates are like digital signatures which ensure that only validated code are allowed to run on the device. The code cannot be corrupted or edited by anyone else other than the editor. This adds another layer of security for IoT devices which in most cases run on independent platforms.
Security at the Device End
Cisco estimates Billion devices to get connected by 2020. This means Billion new points of attack for hackers. Without a centralized control to secure these devices, the only way out is to secure the device end.
Security on the Cloud
Cloud is the major traffic path for Internet of Things. Hence, the second perimeter defense to thwart cybersecurity must be at the cloud server. A wide range of cloud security provisions already exist in the market which can be tweaked for the best fit to IoT environment.
As long as Internet continues to exist, cyber security issues will dwell incessantly. With the oncoming of the Things wave, the risk of cybersecurity is only heightened. Unlike in the previous generation of devices, in the ‘Things’ generation, the risk of data loss and personal identity theft is grave. Organizations and users of IoT devices must embrace adequate security measures to stay immune to these probable IoT cybersecurity risks.