Though the Internet of Things (IoT) has redefined our lives and brought a lot of benefits, it has a large attack surface area that’s highly vulnerable to cyber attacks. If not properly secured, IoT devices can be easily hacked by cybercriminals, which can lead to serious consequences, especially in niches like finance that deals with lots of financial and sensitive customer data. Therefore, the Internet of Things solutions require much more thorough testing to prevent information leaks and damage to the hardware. How to do it right, what types of IoT testing exist, and which techniques are the most effective – keep reading to find answers to all of these questions.
The Importance of Securing Your IoT
The IoT market is growing quickly. Perhaps there’s no area that smart devices haven’t touched. From healthcare to everyday life, IoT devices have become our reliable assistants, just a step behind smartphones in their ubiquity. As we look at the statistics, we can see they will gain even more traction in the coming years. Predictions show that the number of devices could reach 29 billion by 2030 — double the 15.1 billion recorded in 2020. These numbers reveal that IoT will continue to be a lucrative industry that will keep growing.
However, the downside is that this industry is highly susceptible to attacks. If not properly secured, IoT devices can become a gateway for cybercriminals, allowing them to access sensitive data and tamper with systems. This vulnerability is not just a threat to individual privacy but also poses potential security risks to businesses and national security.
You might have heard of some really bad attacks that have occurred because of unsecured IoT devices. One of the most sensational cases, without a doubt, is the Mirai botnet attack in 2016. In just one day, millions of IoT devices were hijacked to launch a massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, disrupting Internet services across the globe. This security incident alone is enough to illustrate the catastrophic consequences of neglecting IoT security.
What Is IoT Security Testing?
Considering the risks of focusing too much on the usability of devices and ignoring their security, IoT security testing becomes a critical component in safeguarding the entire IoT ecosystem. Essentially, IoT security testing is what it says on the tin. It’s the practice of evaluating cloud-connected devices and networks to reveal security flaws and prevent devices from being hacked and compromised by a third party. The biggest IoT security risks and challenges can be addressed through comprehensive testing strategies and a focused approach to the most critical IoT vulnerabilities.
Most Critical IoT Security Vulnerabilities
There are typical issues in security analysis faced by organizations that need to be addressed, even by experienced companies. Consequently, adequate testing of Internet of Things security in networks and devices is required, as a single security breach in the system can bring a business to a standstill, leading to financial losses and declining customer loyalty.
Let’s take a closer look at the most malicious security issues to watch out for.
Weak Easy-to-Guess Passwords
Absurdly simple and short passwords that put personal data at risk are among the primary IoT security risks and vulnerabilities for most cloud-connected devices and their owners. Hackers can co-opt multiple devices with a single guessable password, jeopardizing the entire IoT network.
Insecure Ecosystem Interfaces
Insufficient encryption and verification of the user’s identity or access rights in the ecosystem architecture (i.e., software, hardware, firmware, network, and interfaces outside of the device) enable the devices and associated components to get infected by malware. Any element in the broad network of connected technologies is a potential source of risk.
Insecure Network Services
Particular attention should be paid to services running on the device, especially those exposed to the Internet and with a high risk of unauthorized access. Do not keep ports open, update protocols, and ban any unusual traffic.
Outdated software components or frameworks leave connected devices vulnerable to cyberattacks. These security weaknesses allow third parties to access the internal network and tamper with the performance of these gadgets, potentially operating them remotely or expanding the attack surface for the organization.
Insecure Data Transfer/ Storage
The more devices connected to the Internet, the higher the data storage/exchange level must be. Failure to securely encode sensitive data, whether stored or transmitted, can cause the entire system to fail.
Bad IoT Device Management
Inadequate management of IoT devices occurs due to poor network perception and visibility. Organizations may have many different devices that they do not even know about and that provide easy entry points for attackers. IoT developers are simply not prepared in terms of proper planning, implementation, and management tools.
Poor Secure Update Mechanism
The ability to securely update the software, which is the core of any IoT device, reduces the chances of it being compromised. The gadget becomes vulnerable every time cybercriminals discover a weak point in security. Similarly, if it is not fixed with regular updates, or if there are no regular notifications of security-related changes, it can become compromised over time.
Inadequate Privacy Protection
Personal information is gathered and stored in larger amounts on IoT devices than smartphones. In case of improper access, there is always a threat of your information being exposed and exploited for malicious purposes. It is a major privacy concern because most Internet of Things technologies, to some extent, are related to monitoring and controlling gadgets at home, which can lead to serious consequences later on.
Poor Physical Hardening
Poor physical hardening is another critical vulnerability. These devices are often placed in easily accessible locations like offices and public places, making them prone to physical tampering. Without robust physical security measures, attackers can gain access to these devices, allowing them to manipulate, extract, or destroy data. This vulnerability is particularly concerning for devices used in critical infrastructure.
Insecure Default Settings
Some IoT devices come with default settings that cannot be modified, or operators need alternatives regarding security adjustments. The initial configuration should be adjustable. Default settings that are invariant across multiple devices are insecure. Once guessed, they can be used to hack into other devices.