December 7, 2018
The Internet of Things is based on a centralized system of interrelated devices that are equipped with computing abilities. These devices have inbuilt UIDs, a set of unique identifiers, that can transfer data through a network without requiring human interaction. The sensors in devices and appliances will collect different types of data and communicate, analyze or even act on it.
With IoT, businesses can develop new ways to connect and increase value by building new businesses and channels of revenue. It is no secret that implementing solutions that involve the use of the IoT would provide seamless connectivity across all platforms, but at the same time, there’s a raging security issue that risks shutting down the entire set up.
The centralized nature of the system allows control through a flimsy and easy-to-get-past security measure. Once hackers bypass this, they can access all the resources on the network. You can see from the Mirai botnet attacks the scale of risk that the IoT faces.
With the right experience, it’s possible for hackers to target the hardware and breach device sensors. These types of attacks will require physical proximity to the IoT system itself. At the same time, even if they cannot manage a complete breach, it is still possible to reduce hardware efficacy. In an IoT network that is made up of multitude nodes, an attacker can hack into the nodes to gain access to devices or sensors node and subsequently use it to extract sensitive and private information from the network.
There is a high risk that attackers may mess with the nodes so that they can control devices, appliances, and sensors connected to the IoT environment and use it to extract codes, data, and other files. By injecting malicious nodes, hackers can physically deploy their nodes between legitimate ones in the IoT network.
This type of attack is also referred to as the Man-in-the-Middle since it allows the deployed nodes to control network operations and even the data that flows between it.
Introducing these malicious nodes allows the attackers to have system access with actions as simple as plugging a USB drive into one of the devices that are on the IoT network. Hackers can launch an attack known as ‘sleep deprivation’ through the nodes.
This kind of attack targets the sensors and devices, which have a weak battery drainage system. To an outsider, it will seem like these devices are going into sleep mode to improve battery life. On the contrary, these attacks actually increase the amount of power the nodes consume until they ultimately shut down the devices.
Cloning and spoofing are two ways that third parties can gain unauthorized access by impersonating a device that does. Spoofing happens when a security breach occurs at a lower level system on a shared IoT network. In spoofing, the hacker secretly reads and records data that is being transmitted through a tag. For instance, it will be disastrous to have a Zigbee enabled light switch and a personal computer with all the bank particulars on the same IoT network. When a hacker enters the network through the easily hacked switch, the network even though it may be encrypted believes the hacker to be valid as well.
Cloning, on the other hand, is an old yet most effective hacking technique which involves copying data from a legitimate tag onto a replica to enter the IoT network. These replicas are so accurate that it is impossible to distinguish between the original and compromised tag. The hackers then make use of these replicas to achieve their twisted objectives.
Weak encryption algorithms are a major issue that leads to high risks of cyber attacks on IoT systems and configurations. According to a study by HP, a large number of IoT device systems are vulnerable to attack because they didn’t have defensive encryption schemes in place.
And the few SSIDs that bother to use encryption employed Wired Equivalent Protection, which is an outdated standard that any experienced hacker can get through.
Sometimes, avoiding the issue of a security breach can be as easy as registering a new device in the IT inventory for IoT devices. Any institution employing the use of such devices should implement a standard procedure before adding a new device to the network, whether it’s a government organization, educational facility, hospital or business.
The primary cause behind unauthorized parties gaining access is that they use unmonitored devices to pass through. When such appliances or devices become part of the network, hackers enter the mainframe as well, which results in a breach.
Let’s not forget that typically, IoT connected devices are available with a default password and many users don’t change the settings to set a distinct password and username. Hackers with malicious intent can spend hours to generate a list of vulnerable devices and try scores of default password combinations until they find a match.
Even if users changed their password and usernames initially but failed to do so on a regular basis, hackers can force their way through with methods like SSH protocols. Nonetheless, updating the inventory consistently with device management systems and network access control applications can help organizations respond to security breaches better.
As time passes and the lurking issue of IoT security continues, these risks can grow significantly as attackers learn of more ways to manipulate the system for precious data. It merely highlights the importance of coming up with a solution before highly confidential data is compromised.