Security Risks to IoT devices are not what they seem…they are far worse.
It is estimated that by 2020, a quarter of cyber-attacks will involve IoT Devices.
Many people seem to dismiss the potential impact of such attacks. “After all,” they assume, “IoT devices are usually simple ones, with limited computation. It is not very likely that such devices hold troves of sensitive user data, nor do they handle transactions, so there is no money to steal.”
Unfortunately, the potential impacts of a hacked IoT device are much more serious than people realize:
Damage to the device, low availability
IoT devices infected with malware are forced to operate in a manner that far exceeds their intended use. They could be working to infect other devices and “recruit” them into a botnet that executes Denial-of-Service attacks or mines cryptocurrencies. Such activities put considerable strain on the device, which is not designed or configured to operate in such an intensive manner. Disconnections, malfunction and even breakage (caused by more aggressive malware, such as “Brickerbot”) could be the result. Multiply this by thousands of devices, and the commercial impact could be substantial.
Even if the devices remain intact, their availability could be compromised, which in mission-critical deployments (such as surveillance and traffic monitoring) could result in severe incidents and disruption.
Risks to Privacy
IoT devices are often sensors that capture footage, sound and other personal information (such as building entrance and exit patterns). As such, a hacked device could be utilized as more than a small connected computer; the captured information could be sold or used for nefarious ends ranging from extortion to preying on innocents to planning physical intrusion.
With GDPR and other data protection and privacy regulations coming into effect, and general awareness raising due to high-profile data breaches, it is no wonder that customers want companies to ask for permission before collecting and distributing any personal data they gather from customer interactions or IoT deployments. Companies collecting private information and failing to secure it are liable and could face fines and public outrage that will tarnish their hard-earned public reputation.
IoT devices monitor and control processes, such as maintaining the temperature of boiling water in a kettle. Interfering with these processes could lead to severe consequences, from leaving residents without heating in freezing conditions, to actually causing a connected device to heat up and catch fire.
The potential security risk from hacked IoT devices is wider and deeper than it first appears. The risk is even greater due to the vast amounts of unsecured devices deployed in the field. It is essential that IoT users and service provider will acknowledge the risks and act to secure the devices prior to a potentially disastrous cyber attack.
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