The advent of IoT has made life far more convenient for the millions of users that leverage it both at home and in business. Interconnected devices that communicate with each other was just a concept; now that it is a reality, it is now being applied in baby monitors, smart fridges, traffic sensors and in manufacturing. Tech experts estimate that by 2020, the number of devices connected wirelessly will exceed forty billion.
However, to enjoy the plethora of benefits that IoT offers, it is highly critical to ensure its security.
Reasons why you need to secure your IoT network
Any device connected to a network is usually vulnerable to a host of threats due to the multiple attack vectors they offer. Before, anyone speaking of such a sophisticated attack would have been dismissed as watching too many movies, but unfortunately, hacking through the IoT network is a scary reality. Here are some examples of attacks that IoT is vulnerable to:
- There have been cases of hackers manipulating the cameras in baby monitors to obtain unauthorized feed or to hack into their users’ computers.
- Some hackers can also hack into your smart thermostat to determine your habitual tendencies, for instance, when you are home or away. This information can come in handy in planning theft or robbery.
- Most people now use AI assistants like Siri or Alexa to order products online. If you feed information like your personal address, credit card numbers or passwords via these platforms, a hacker can access them and steal your identity or money.
- Denials of access and ransomware attacks are also more frequent nowadays. Cybercriminals access your system or critical data then demand a hefty amount of money for return of control. An example of such an attack is the WannaCry ransomware that hit over 10,000 businesses globally.
- Your router is a link that some hackers use to access your home network and obtain the data being transmitted through it. In 2018, a malware dubbed VPNFilter infected over 500,000 routers globally, and in so doing, also infected the devices connected to it and made the routers inoperable.
Below are some of the ways you can use to secure your IoT in this digital world:
Obtain your IoT devices and related services from a reputable vendor
From the beginning, you must purchase your smart devices and routers from a vendor who is both trustworthy and dependable. Before making a purchase decision, carry out thorough research, read online reviews and ask questions. The more positive the reviews and comprehensive the answers to your questions, the more trustworthy the vendor is. You need to ensure that the devices you buy are genuine and of high quality to ensure your safety.
Securing the communication between the communicating devices
The biggest threat to IoT is man-in-the-middle attacks, where hackers target the data being transmitted between the devices. To prevent this, you need to have solid encryption algorithms to secure communication and this can be fulfilled with SSL certificate. Weak encryption can easily be outmaneuvered and transmitted data decrypted and corrupted. The other solution is an example is the use of WPA2 to secure your Wi-Fi. You can also have a guest network to keep your visitors away from your core home network.
Secure IoT data
IoT data is now stored in large databases that offer lucrative targets for miscreants looking for data to sell on the black market. This information is also valuable for criminals that thrive on industrial espionage, so it is incredibly crucial to secure IoT-related data. From multi-factor authentication to data encryption and even physical barriers, you need to do everything to protect the data cache.
Disable the unessential features
All IoT devices come with some extra features like remote access and wake on LAN, which may open them up to attack. If you do not need them, consider disabling them and uninstalling apps that you rarely use.
Use strong passwords
The use of passwords is a tried and tested method that will surely keep cybercriminals at bay. Be sure to protect the devices on your IoT using robust passwords that are impossible to obtain via trial and error. Having your birthday or name spelled backward as a password is easy to predict and an even easier way to get hacked.
Invest in reliable antivirus software
The best antivirus solutions are the paid-for versions. Free solutions only provide limited protection, and to have a secure IoT, you will need more than the basic features they offer. Again, ensure that the antivirus you buy is reliable and that the software company approves your vendor. Antivirus software will protect you and your devices from phishing attacks and malware.
Use middleware hardware physical security
The more the people who come into access with your devices, and other critical hardware and software, the higher the risk of attack and physical damage. Middleware Hardware Physical Security is a technology designed to facilitate the secure control of several security applications and devices through one interface. This technology is excellent not only for data security but also to protect from theft and environmental factors.
Carry out security audits
Check your devices often for any peculiar behavior that may be a sign of malware infection. Get any glitches fixed immediately, and run your antivirus smart scans as many times as possible.
Avoid public Wi-Fi
Free Wi-Fi may be great, but not if it ends up destroying your smartphone or laptop. If you must use public Wi-Fi to control your IoT, then use a reputable VPN service provider
Install security updates securely
While installing updates is one of the recommended methods to ensure IoT and software security, setting the system and network to update itself regularly opens them up for attack. Automatic updates may act as a security hole, so it is essential to have measures in place to protect automatic system updates.
IoT is one of the most talked about technologies in the fourth industrial revolution. It is critical that concrete security measures be put in place to avoid changing the conversation from one of praise and convenience to one of loss and disillusionment.