Sat. Dec 7th, 2019

Top IoT Security Issues in 2019

4 min read

IoT development is a fast growing and seemingly unstoppable industry. In fact, there are currently hundreds of millions of market users for every continent. It is predicted to reach $318 billion by 2023.

The thing is, a rapidly growing market means a lot of new challenges in terms of security. 

Every day, there are new apps, new developments, and new devices being released, all with haphazard disregard on the accessibility and management of data in these IoT devices. And because of this, the IoT industry, and consequently, its market, face a lot of posing threats to security. 

The first step to solving these issues and preventing them from happening in the future is to be aware of what these issues are, which is why we have listed below all the top IoT security issues for this year, 2019: 

Insufficient security of mobile, web, and cloud data 

In an era of unprecedented interconnectivity, the threat of compromised data remains the largest and most pressing issue in terms of security and privacy. 

A huge percentage of consumer data is being shared and sold between different companies, organizations, and even governments, transactions that are mostly done without the knowledge or consent of the consumers. 

These data come from everywhere- not just from social media platforms, but also from various websites, accounts, and apps, and even smart appliances. Anything that can be connected to the internet can be used to access one’s data.  

Unfortunately, there are few laws and practices on ethical management of all this multi-layered data, and the few regulations and compliance requirements currently existing are not mandatory, and may be especially hard to follow for small companies lacking the budget for implementing high end security measures. 

Lack of thorough tests and regular updates 

Automatic updates are typically only available to computer systems, and in the few cases where they are offered to IoT devices, it is only done so over a short period of time, usually only until a new model of the device is ready to be released to the market. 

Because of this, devices eventually become susceptible to viruses, hackers, and other security problems, because of outdated hardware and software. 

Isolated incidents and small scale breaches are not unheard of, especially nowadays. These small scale breaches of security, whether by small time or pro hackers, funnel out valuable information, and are just the right side of small scale to avoid detection

But what is most important to watch out for- and something that can be prepared for and avoided with thorough device testing and regular software and security updates- are large scale attacks and security breaches. A single occurrence of this can compromise thousands, if not millions, of consumer data and privacy. 

Use of default passwords and brute force 

Manufacturers often make the dangerous practice of releasing IoT devices to the public set on default usernames and passwords, usually without specific instructions to the buyers that they should change these access credentials as soon as possible.  

Why this is still a common practice, you might ask? The thing is that no legislations are in place to prohibit these practices, which means that there is no way to hold manufacturers accountable for security breaches and other related issues. 

With nothing more than suggestive guidelines on proper security measures for IoT devices rather than firm regulations, these devices are vulnerable to hacking, especially one that is done through simple brute force. 

IoT malware and ransomware attacks 

With the lack of thorough security measures on IoT devices come the threat of exploitation via different malwares and ransomwares, which are getting more and more sophisticated through time.  

These malware and ransomware attacks can do more than just disable user functions or lock users out of their devices, sensitive consumer data can also be stolen and used for ill purposes at the same time.  

And the worst part? A lot of these things can be done remotely, even without an encryption! Cameras, whether IP or webcams, can be utilized to track users and record sensitive personal information from various access points and locations. And with the influx of new IoT devices every day, this problem is only bound to get worse. 

AI, automation, and the “smart” movement 

In terms of collecting and networking data, all the consumer data coming in will be much harder to manage with the influx of IoT devices. To alleviate this problem, AI tools and autonomous systems are being used to sift through all the data, analyze patterns, and detect anomalies

While that sounds promising, one important concern is how these systems and tools are given the ability to make autonomous decisions concerning a variety of essential functions of any given infrastructure- infrastructures that can collapse with a single computer error. 

Meanwhile, on the matter of smart devices, appliances, transportation, and even buildings, new security challenges present themselves. 

With the increasing popularity of using IoT devices in the home setting, such as Google Home or Amazon Echo, and especially security systems connected to mobile devices and accessible via WiFi, private residences are now more susceptible to invasions, as IP addresses can easily be tracked to one’s location.  

Along with this, vehicles, particularly smart cars, can easily be accessed and taken control of by an adequately skilled hacker, even while the vehicle is in use. 

Aside from the ones already mentioned, there are several other security issues that IoT development pose for its users. For one, the lack of encryption for messages can easily translate to compromised communication. Another is that cryptocurrency is steadily becoming a vulnerable target, and so on. 

The way to address these issues is for firm legislations to be passed, and for manufacturers and developers to conduct more mindful and ethical practices, in order to ensure the safety of their consumer base, and their company as well. 

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