You probably already rely on Internet of Things (IoT) devices, whether you realize it or not. They could be helping control and monitor your public water usage, they might help you log into your email on the go– whatever their purpose, most of us rely on IoT devices to help make our lives easier. And with these devices comes the need for adequate IoT security.
There are some challenges attached to IoT device usage. Cybersecurity threats can lead to damages or stolen data with minimal effort from criminals. IoT devices are novel (all things considered) and people can take advantage of cybersecurity weaknesses with ill intent.
Why Is IoT Security So Important?
Here’s why IoT security is so important: someone could literally use your phone to steal the password to your email account (or to save your fingerprint data, or to access your bank account).
We’re in the era of IoT– and while a digital connection is great, it creates a lot of small points where cybercriminals can worm their way into data. We can do things we never thought we’d be able to, but it comes at a price: our data is on the line.
IoT security aims to solve these problems and facilitate the secure use of IoT.
IoT security threats could impact society, not just our homes
We’re all about protecting IoT data for everyday people who rely on connectivity at work or in their homes– but there’s another reason that IoT security is so important.
A lot of us rely on IoT for some pretty important things in society, even if we don’t realize it. Public utilities like energy and water often rely on IoT devices to control them. Business’ IoT sensors help with compliance and speed through the payment process.
When IoT security is threatened on this level, it’s even easier to see why it’s so important to keep data safe.
7 Unique Security Challenges: Protection and IoT
1. AI & Automation
If you’re hearing anything about tech, you’re hearing about AI and automation. They’re already helping experts in a multitude of industries sort through huge quantities of data and make critical decisions.
- Eventually, automation and AI could be used to benefit IoT administrators and network security officers
- Tools like these would allow those parties to detect potentially problematic traffic and data patterns
- AI might even be used to help enforce data-specific rules
- But there’s a problem: when people use autonomous systems to make choices that impact lots of real people, it becomes really obvious that one awkward non-human decision could cause a lot of damage
So, if someone wants to build an IoT-based app soon, they shoulder consider security challenges like these.
Solving the security challenges AI and Automation pose in IoT settings requires:
- Protecting IoT from attacks
- Protecting user data from theft
2. Home Security
A growing number of people are integrating IoT connectivity into their homes and offices. Huge, innovative names in the building industry even develop entire residential and commercial buildings with IoT built into their fabric.
Home automation is a great thing– but do you feel comfortable assuming everyone is up to speed on the best practices that should govern IoT security?
It’s almost too easy for something to go wrong. All it takes is an IP address exposure to start a downward spiral:
- Residential addresses and other consumer contact information can be exposed afterward
- Then, it’s easy for a malicious party to use the information for less-than-savory purposes
The result? Smart homes at some level of risk. It’s something that should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds as we step into the future and change how the home looks.
3. Insufficient Testing and Updating
Did you know that there are more than 23 billion IoT devices connected worldwide? Experts predict that the figure will top 60 billion by 2026.
IoT devices are becoming increasingly popular; and when we trust normal tech companies to produce those devices, we have to accept some risk. Tech companies don’t always do their due diligence when it comes to IoT device handling and mitigating security risks.
- Lots of IoT devices are under-updated
- Secure devices become insecure over time
- When our early computer systems faced the same problem, we (somewhat) fixed it through automatic software updates
When it comes to IoT devices, longevity isn’t always a priority for manufacturers. There’s no easy way to update IoT devices as you go. Manufacturers just make something to capture their audience’s attention and then work on the next gadget that fits that bill.
IoT devices need adequate testing before they’re launched to the public. The current insufficient efforts to do so do not protect consumers or hardware.
4. IoT Malware and Ransomware
IoT products have become popular and commonplace very quickly. This makes it difficult to predict cyberattack permutations. We can’t always protect against attacks like these anyway; but in a lot of settings (like with normal computers), we have enough experience to sort things out eventually.
- If an IoT-enabled camera (for example) captured private, confidential information, the information could be compromised during a system hack
Traditional ransomware uses encryption to protect data. It locks out users from platforms and devices they shouldn’t access. Cybercriminals are now merging malware and ransomware strains to try to create a new type of attack. At this point, it seems like those attacks may focus on disabling or limiting device functionality while a criminal steals data in the meantime.
5. Ambiguous Security Standards
We rely on clear security standards to keep us safe every day– at school, at work, on the web, in vehicles, standing in front of refrigerators…
The security standards that govern IoT devices are not clear. They’re ambiguous at best.
Most IoT devices are made up of lots of components manufactured all throughout the world. It’s because the parts that make up these devices are very specialized– only some entities can make them. That creates a problem: when all the parts are created separately, they all rely on their own sets of security standards.
Different security standards leave IoT devices vulnerable. It’s a big issue when it comes to protecting user privacy.
6. Attack Prediction and Prevention
It’s not just the attacks themselves that are risky in IoT settings– it’s predicting and preventing those attacks that pose the greatest challenge. IoT cyberattacks are tremendously unpredictable; most hackers use new, modern methods to breach security and evade detection as long as possible.
IoT device security leaves a lot of questions for anybody who’s interested in the subject long-term. IoT devices need to be able to process data instantly, which makes implementing security processes difficult. Those security processes slow down an IoT device’s ability to perform functions.
- AI-powered monitoring could help with attack prediction and prevention in the future
- Experts need to locate vulnerabilities and fix them as they occur
Modern cloud services already use threat intelligence to predict security problems. We’re inching towards some security solutions for IoT, but it will take time (and work) to get there.
7. Evading Detection
Another tricky issue to tackle is the fact that certain small IoT attacks can actually evade detection. This makes them especially dangerous.
IoT microbreaches easily slip through a lot of the rudimentary security nets we use to protect IoT devices. Cybercriminals can slowly leak information to themselves instead of dumping huge amounts of records into their possession at one time.
Securing IoT Ecosystems
There’s no quick and all-encompassing answer to the question of how to secure IoT ecosystems. It’s why we’re still facing the IoT cybersecurity challenges that we do today.
There are some basic steps that generally go into improving IoT security:
- Securing the physical devices themselves (lots of physical devices are left running unattended; they could be constantly monitored but, even if they aren’t, they should be secured)
- Securing IoT networks (this looks different for different organizations; access control mechanisms, strong user authentication restrictions, etc. can all help prevent cybercriminals from gaining easy access to data)
Our hope is that as IoT evolves, more industry experts will step up to the plate to answer some of the pressing security questions that plague the industry. We have a long way to go before IoT data is totally secure, but there are people working to make data safer on a daily basis.
At Option3Ventures, We’re Investing In the Companies Solving These Issues
There’s no question about it: we need a heavier focus on IoT cybersecurity to help make IoT devices safer to use. The data stored by public utility groups is equally as valuable as the data sitting in most people’s spam email boxes.
So what can we do to push IoT security forward? How are companies investing in the future?
We’re Option3Ventures. We’re committed to investing in the companies that are solving today’s IoT cybersecurity issues. Our team is passionate about helping early-stage cybersecurity companies and ventures secure the funding they need to help protect us on the web.
Cybersecurity investing isn’t just an aspect of our business– it is our business. We are a multi-faceted team of industry experts who work together to promote IoT safety for everybody.