Recent years have seen the proliferation of IoT devices across the world, and the number of connected IoT devices is projected to amount to 75.44 billion worldwide by 2025. These devices offer improved connectivity to make homes more efficient and life much easier.
However, their mode of functioning (data collection) is also their main security threat, and the fact that they run on limited resources makes it hard to secure them. Recently, a hacker released more than 515,000 Telnet credentials belonging to servers, home routers, and IoT devices. Your IoT devices can be exploited to spy on you or used in DDoS attacks, and it’s becoming increasingly important to ensure their security.
Threats to IoT Devices
Botnets are composed of many devices (zombies) that are under the control of a hacker (bot herder). In most cases, the victims are IoT devices that still use the manufacturer’s default credentials or common passwords. When a hacker connects to such devices, they can then use them to carry out nefarious activities such as phishing and scams, DDoS attacks, ad fraud, crypto-mining, etc.
Identity and Data Theft
IoT devices such as smartwatches, smart meters, and other smart home devices can be hacked and used to collect data on individuals. The data obtained can then be used to carry out more sophisticated attacks that aim at gaining confidential information such as credit and debit cards.
Apart from that, these devices can be used as an entry point to a network, since they are connected to other devices and systems. When a device is compromised, a hacker can then infiltrate multiple enterprise systems and obtain sensitive data, especially if you don’t have one of the best antispyware software installed.
Ransomware is a huge threat to IoT devices, especially since these devices normally have low or no security due to resource constrictions. Once a hacker gains access to a device, they can then download their malware, which will encrypt your device until you send a ransom.
Researchers demonstrated this concern by hacking into remote thermostats. They were able to control the temperature and lock it to a certain degree, something that hackers can also do to demand a ransom.
How to Stay Secure from IoT Threats
Use Strong Custom Passwords
Most IoT attacks take advantage of people that either use the default manufacturer passwords or common passwords. This was demonstrated by the botnet Miria which used such devices to make much of the internet almost inaccessible in the US East Coast.
To protect your IoT devices from being recruited for such purposes, ensure that you change your default credentials and use strong passwords.
Perform Software Updates
Firmware updates usually patch existing vulnerabilities and enhance the security of a device. Check the manufacturer’s website regularly for software updates and install them on your device.
Secure your Network
Securing your network makes it hard for hackers to gain access. The very basic way of securing your network is changing from the default username and password. Use an SSID that does not reveal who you are and a password that is strong enough to prevent brute-force attacks.
You can then go a step further and encrypt your whole network using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This can be done by using a VPN-capable router, which can then be configured with a trusted VPN service. This way, your network will be impenetrable by outside parties.