Addressing IoT Security Challenges: How to Mitigate Vulnerabilities and Ensure Reliable NetworksPublish Date: October 25, 2023
The rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) has resulted in an unprecedented rise in the number of connected devices, which include far more than just data storage and retrieval tools. Industry estimates suggest a 3x surge in IoT devices, from 9.7 billion in 2020 to over 29 billion devices by 2030. This network of interconnected devices encompasses a diverse range of items, from healthcare equipment and household appliances to vehicles, power stations, and even nuclear plants, all with the potential to impact society significantly.
As such, it is essential to prioritize identifying and mitigating any security vulnerabilities that may impact the IoT ecosystem and to implement measures to close any security gaps.
Features and security issues with IoT
IoT attacks are becoming more sophisticated, what with botnet builders being hooked to IoT devices and the emergence of novel and creative ways of data exfiltration.
Where its ability to aid businesses to enhance operational efficiencies, provide better user experience, and reduce costs make this network a helpful phenomenon, the IoT Acceleration Consortium has highlighted the need to manage three critical aspects within this technology:
- Rising number of linked IoT devices
- Long lifecycles of connected devices
- The complexity of surveillance for IoT networks
As the number of connected devices expands, so does their vulnerability to cyber threats. In addition, organizations understand the maintenance of IoT systems necessitates some level of human intervention, and there may be circumstances in which a need for more skilled resources makes it difficult to detect and prevent security issues. The situation is further compounded by the fact that IoT devices are intended to have long lifecycles to maximize their value to users. However, this also implies that sophisticated attacks on these devices could endure for extended periods, exacerbating the severity of the issue.
Resolving IoT security issues
One method of addressing security concerns stemming from many connected devices on a network is to implement a layered architecture utilizing relay devices such as routers, switches, and gateways. These devices are installed between the sensors and the cloud to collect vast amounts of sensor data and identify any issues in data transmission. This layered approach can significantly improve network security by providing an additional line of defense against potential cyber threats and helping to mitigate any vulnerabilities that may arise due to the high volume of devices on the network.
Addressing the challenges posed by long lifecycles and the intricacy of manual surveillance requires prompt identification of any issues and swift provisional action to prevent further damage as the IoT system continues to operate. Damage to IoT security can take the form of primary harm directly resulting from an incident and secondary harm stemming from the spread of malware, viruses, or botnets. The consequences of these problems are significant, resulting in expensive repairs for damaged equipment and compensation for affected parties. Additionally, the harm caused by security breaches can lead to a loss of public trust in the affected brand. As such, taking immediate action to mitigate these issues and ensure IoT systems’ continued security and reliability is crucial.
In the event of problem detection in an IoT network, standard provisional measures can be taken immediately. These measures include isolating the incident’s location, controlling the damage to the affected device, and defending it against further attacks. For known issues and previously designed response methods, organizations can automate the process flow from problem identification to response measures, allowing for a rapid and efficient resolution of the issue while maintaining network uptime.
However, when unknown issues arise, it is necessary for the organization to first understand the root causes of the problem through log analysis before taking appropriate response measures. Organizations can proactively investigate measures against hypothetical issues, verify their impact, and create a manual of appropriate response methods to reduce the time from problem identification to provisional response. By doing so, they can be better prepared to address potential issues and respond quickly and effectively in the event of a security breach or other problem in their IoT network.
Approach to securing IoT architecture
Deploying solutions for IoT security is complex. However, some tried and trusted principles provide tools to optimize security within network design. These may be divided into three parts:
- Securing the device
IoT devices typically run on embedded systems having specialized hardware and software. This can result in vulnerabilities that attackers exploit, making it necessary to ensure the hardware is tamper-proof. An organization can safeguard the physical security of its connected devices by using port locks and strong boot-level passwords that will disable the product if tinkered with.
Even though it entails additional costs, ensuring proper software security with regular patches and updates is critical. The best strategy is to incorporate automated security updates that require no manual action from end users. After releasing its system to the market, the organization must monitor the vulnerabilities evolving in the environment and develop relevant updates.
- Securing the data
The cryptography keys should be stored in non-volatile device memory when deploying data protection measures. End users must be prompted to set up unique default passwords and use multifactor authentication for more privacy. All data must be permanently deleted before a used product is refurbished and/or resold. IoT devices must be designed to collect only the data for which the network was planned. This strategy reduces the risk of data leaks, protects consumers’ rights to privacy, and eliminates the possibility of non-compliance with data protection laws.
In addition to network firewalls, IoT networks should be secured with advanced encryption standards (AES), Triple DES, RSA, and Digital Signature Algorithms. Lastly, detailed penetration testing is essential to check for vulnerabilities in IoT hardware and software and minimize the attack surface area. Static code analysis is recommended to find common flaws, and dynamic testing must be applied to uncover the well-hidden vulnerabilities.
- Securing the network
Communication in an IoT network requires particular security, and the cryptographic algorithms should be adapted to the capacities of individual devices. Implementing protocols like VPN and HTTPS helps secure data transmission and encrypt communication between IoT devices and the internet, making it harder for threat actors to intercept sensitive information.
Another step to take in this case is to control the bandwidth of IoT devices to help secure connected products from attempted DoS attacks. Devices should also be programmed to reboot and clear code when malware is detected.
To limit the scope of an attack, IoT networks should also be divided into segments. An organization can deploy next-gen firewall security more effectively by segregating large networks into smaller sub-networks, partitioned from each other. For this, they can use ranges of IP addresses or VLANs. Lastly, using a secure gateway helps keep communication between different devices secure. It can be used to verify devices and monitor traffic for malicious activity.
AI & ML for IoT:
AI/ ML aid in improving capabilities of IoT systems, and can stand a strong defence against security threats. For instance, AI and ML-based Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) continuously monitor, predict, and offer solutions by leveraging historical data of previous attacks. Furthermore, ML algorithms like Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA), Classification and Regression Trees (CART) and Random Forest can be used for attacks identification and classification.
Implementing IoT system security with YASH
As a global technology company, we understand the importance of securing IoT systems to safeguard devices and end-users. By partnering with leading tech players, YASH has built an ecosystem that helps clients secure their IoT architecture from phishing, spoofing, and command injection attacks. Through a zero-trust approach, we automate IoT security for seamless business operations and eliminate blind spots for connected devices.
YASH offers a range of solutions, such as real-time network monitoring, dynamic segmentation, device visibility, and lifecycle management of assets to maximize ROI from IoT technology. With our expertise in IoT security, clients can protect their devices, data, and networks.
Vice President & Global Head - IoT & Embedded Practice & CoE
Sacheen has over 26+ years of experience in the Engineering/Industrial services & IT services company and predominantly worked for Manufacturing, Transportation/Automotive, Healthcare/Medical Devices and Energy & Utilities Industry Verticals sectors.