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How to Strengthen IoT Cybersecurity

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Owing to its revolutionary concept of connecting objects, machines and devices into a blanket network, IoT or the Internet of Things has seen massive adoption from businesses and consumers alike. This network enables these devices with inbuilt sensors to collect and analyze information and exchange it with other similar devices. The number of connected devices is increasing rapidly, from industrial control systems on the factory floor and autonomous cars to smartphones and intelligent home gadgets. By 2025, over 30.9 billion devices are expected to be part of the connected network. 

While IoT is a novel way to share data, it has also created a challenge for cybersecurity experts. As more devices join the IoT network, additional potential attack points are exposed to malicious hackers. Most of these devices do not have the necessary hardware or software required as safeguards from cyber threats, leaving them vulnerable to cyber-attacks. IoT security today is one of the hottest cybersecurity trends in the coming years.

With the IoT market booming, it's up to businesses to ensure the integrity and safety of their IoT devices. By integrating more stringent cybersecurity protocols, companies can mitigate security risks associated with IoT. 

What is IoT cybersecurity? 

The inherent data-sharing network that makes IoT special is also its biggest weakness. Since IoT now operates as a blanket term for various control systems, each with its complications, cybersecurity experts are finding it harder and harder to come up with a standard security protocol. Technically, this has rendered IoT cybersecurity a broad field of study, encompassing methodologies such as API security, PKI authentication and network security. 

IoT cybersecurity came under scrutiny after the 2016 Mirai Botnet attacks. These attacks hacked into several connected devices, including IP cameras and routers, turning them into centrally controlled botnets. The scale of this attack brought the implications of IoT cybersecurity into the spotlight, compelling firms to deploy the latest, state-of-the-art cybersecurity safeguards. 

Why are IoT devices the weakest link in the security chain? 

Since manufacturers are already finding it hard to keep up with the demand for IoT devices, they've been compelled to roll out products as quickly as possible. As the rush continues, firms pay less attention to security to meet market needs. Unlike computers and smartphones, IoT devices rarely receive security patches and updates. So, these devices are often shipped with gaping security holes for hackers to exploit. 

Moreover, IoT is a relatively new technology with few comprehensive cybersecurity studies to formulate its security standards (although few are available for implementation at present). So, the immaturity of the IoT security landscape coupled with a lack of education has made IoT one of the top cybersecurity threats. According to Gartner, 20% of all organizations faced an IoT-based attack in the three years leading up to 2018.

In addition to a strengthened network security, only a combination of physical and technological safeguards can keep IoT devices clean.

How to strengthen IoT cybersecurity? 

Here are some best practices to help you strengthen your defences.

  • Scan your IoT attack surface

The first step is to scan your systems and identify their vulnerabilities. The scan would typically involve tracking each IoT device and gaining clear visibility of their networks. Conducting a penetration test can help identify those vulnerabilities.

  • Implement continuous monitoring 

Traditionally, security monitoring is a one-and-done process conducted a couple of times annually. But IoT devices require constant monitoring for security gaps and suspicious events. 

  • Understand third party risks

One of the main risks to your IoT investments comes from your third-party vendors. There's no way to guarantee the security of their systems, leaving you vulnerable because of gaps in their security setup. 

Conclusion

IoT adoption worldwide has seen steady growth since the 2010s. Businesses are acutely aware of the many advantages IoT offers, but a lack of cybersecurity awareness amongst business leaders has kept investments in IoT cybersecurity on the lower side. It's imperative to tackle this issue through prioritized investments and assessments to ensure the integrity of the network and data remain intact. 

Speak with the Packletlabs team today about securing your IoT with a penetration test.