Understanding IoT Devices and Potential Security Risks

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The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a growing number of devices that can connect and communicate with one another over the Internet and which can be remotely monitored and controlled. Although IoT’s roots date back to 1982, it wasn’t until 2008-2009 that the number of “things” connected to the Internet officially surpassed the number of people connected to the Internet, heralding it’s birth. Internet-connected objects range from consumer applications to business applications to government applications.

Consumer applications: These applications include many products we interact with in our daily lives. Smart phones, smart watches, home security systems, voice controller devices (Google Home and Amazon Echo), some thermostats, baby monitors, doorbells…even coffee pots! With the ability to control a growing number of daily functions remotely and receive “smart” data in real time, consumers are suckers for the latest IoT consumer applications.

Business applications: But what about in the business sector? How is IoT revolutionizing the way we do business? From trackers for fleet vehicles and cargo containers to smart security cameras and sensors that monitor industrial machinery, IoT devices help simultaneously improve communication, security and efficiency…all of which can add up to a tremendous cost-savings/profit increase for businesses that embrace the technology.

Government applications: The third sector incorporating IoT technology is the governmental sector. IoT applications are used to monitor traffic congestion, water supply lines and electrical grid power supply, scan license plates of criminals and traffic offenders, issue natural disaster alerts, track wildlife…and the list goes on.

How are IoT devices vulnerable to security issues and what can be done?

Information flows from a central database to a command and control center (C&C), through an API and back and forth from this API to consumer, business and government IoT devices. With IoT interconnected devices numbering in the billions, there are countless points of entry for all levels of security breaches. Kunal Agarwal, Symantec’s general manager for IoT predicts that this coming year, attacks from and on IoT will increase in severity. From data theft to physical harm for patients with implanted IoT medical devices to threats to general public safety, knowing how to gird up security on every front is absolutely key. This is done in a number of ways.

  • Change default security passwords
  • Update outdated software
  • Block superfluous remote access
  • Enact a stringent access policy for APIs
  • Protect your C&Cs

If we want to continue to enjoy the benefits of IoT across the spectrum and continue to adopt new IoT devices as they become available, we must not relent in our diligent security measures. On this account, security-by-design is gaining momentum and will become more and more of a differentiator in the present and future of software engineering.

If you’re concerned about IoT security for yourself or your business, SOL-I.S. can gird you up. Contact us today and learn how we can help! 952.279.2424

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