The Internet of Things (IoT) has made an unprecedented impact on the way we live. From smart baby monitors to connected cars, IoT devices have added a level of convenience never seen before. However, as more devices enter the marketplace, security concerns have surged. Some IoT devices have serious vulnerabilities, including a higher risk of malware exposure.
The Most Vulnerable IoT Devices
IoT devices are at risk of various malware types, primarily because of their originality. According to Transforming Data with Intelligence, when devices are new, there’s typically less testing done to ensure no security vulnerabilities exist. Many times, widespread use will expose security issues.
Another factor to consider is the profitability of IoT devices. Cybercriminals target technology that allows them to exploit for their financial gain. The following are devices that cybersecurity experts have raised concerns over:
Smart Home Devices
Home automation has grown in popularity exponentially within the last couple of years. As of 2023, more than 63 million households in the United States are actively using a smart home device. Despite the number of devices used, the majority have limited security features. IoT devices, like wireless cameras and baby monitors, have vulnerabilities that permit hackers to gain control over them.
For example, in 2019, an Australian mom logged into her child’s baby monitor and found that the device was compromised and she was viewing a stranger’s bedroom. Along with the privacy concerns, hijacked cameras can give criminals access to private data.
Medical IoT Devices
The healthcare industry has utilized IoT devices to make strides in patient care. Connected pacemakers, insulin pumps, and medication infusion pumps allow efficient patient monitoring. Yet, the devices could also pose serious risks to patient safety and privacy. For instance, in 2015, the FDA had to release a warning after it was determined hackers could remotely control a popular inter-connected insulin pump.
Another concern is malware types, including ransomware, that target patient data. Private medical information sells for approximately 15 times the price of credit card numbers on the dark web.
The automotive industry has embraced the emergence of IoT technologies to create smart vehicles. Features of smart cars include GPS tracking, remote start, and automated driving. One major issue with connected cars is that savvy cybercriminals can steal vehicles with laptops as their only tool. Another problem is the ability of hackers to access the cars remotely. Independent cybersecurity tests have demonstrated automated cars have vulnerabilities allowing criminals to control a vehicle’s steering, battery power, and climate.
The Largest IoT Risks
IoT malware has been a security concern since the introduction of smart devices. In 2023, IoT malware reports grew by 400 percent. Depending on the device, hackers can attack in different manners. The following are the malware types most associated with IoT devices:
Privacy issues have come to the forefront of everyone’s mind as more IoT devices enter homes and businesses. Many IoT devices collect large amounts of data, and if security protocols are breached, then sensitive data can get into the wrong hands.
The manipulation of data is another concern regarding IoT devices. For instance, in an industrial setting, an IoT attack could cause severe problems in critical processes. In 2014, hackers took over a German steel mill and caused controls to fail, significantly damaging the plant.
A denial of service (DoS) attack means hackers can shut down a machine or network, making it permanently or temporarily inaccessible to users. Although a DoS attack may seem like a minor inconvenience for smart home devices, DoS attacks can have far-reaching economic implications if the attack stops production lines or disrupts supply chains.
Botnet attacks often target IoT devices. Botnets feature a single entity that controls a group of interconnected devices. Botnets can spread malware across devices and launch large-scale DoS attacks.
Protecting IoT Devices
As a consumer, you can protect personal IoT devices in the following ways: ● Choose a strong password for each device. Never share passwords between devices. Instead, use passphrases that are unique but are easy to remember.
- Keep firmware updated for all devices. Firmware updates typically address security issues and fix known vulnerabilities.
- Allow for multi-factor authentication. The security practice requires authentication through an email or text message code before any device changes are made.
- Opt to use an IoT VPN. An IoT VPN creates a secure pathway by protecting any data transferred between the device and the cloud or network utilized by the IoT service provider.
Developers and consumers must collaborate to reduce security risks associated with IoT devices. Staying ahead of potential threats makes it possible to rely on the convenience of the technology without compromising personal safety and privacy.