The Internet of Things (IoT) has rapidly transformed over the last few years, driven by the evolution of distributed network technologies. According to a study by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, the number of networking devices will reach 50 billion globally, marking a 400 per cent increase since 2010. Over the last two decades, the entry of distributed networks has created numerous opportunities for companies, governments, and developers to explore the technology. However, it has created several risks and challenges.

With the latest advancements in IoT devices and technologies, threats and cyberattacks are likely to compromise security for businesses and companies worldwide. Security is a primary concern for IoT technology manufacturers as any breach can expose the entire network to cybercriminals.

What are the Risks Associated With IoT Technology?

1. IoT Device Manufacturing Process

IoT device manufacturers are rolling out new devices into the market every day. Many of these are recent models that haven’t been used before and come with undiscovered vulnerabilities. Most device manufacturers see Internet Connectivity as an added benefit to their device’s function, rather than considering it a core feature. Hence, they do not devote much time to making the device secure from potential cyberattacks.

Some of the biggest IoT threats emerging from the manufacturing process include insecure data storage, weak passwords, unprotected hardware, and the absence of a patching mechanism.

2. Botnets

The 2016 Mirai Botnet DDoS attack was one of the most complex and devastating cyberattacks against unsecured IoT devices. An infected IoT device does not pose a significant threat expect to the data it stores. But it’s different when a centrally-commanded malware infects millions or billions of devices.

IoT devices are more likely to get attacked because they receive regular updates. Botnets can not only shut down major websites but also endanger transportation systems, manufacturing facilities, electricity grids, and water treatment plants.

3. Lack of Awareness

Presently, Internet users have become aware of the potential attacks caused by emails and opening suspicious attachments. This has enabled them to run regular virus scans and set strong passwords in their systems. However, IoT is somewhat known to individuals and often misunderstood even by IT professionals.

Whereas most IoT threats can be traced to the manufacturing processes, users remain the prominent reason for security threats mostly because they are unaware of IoT functionality. Tricking a person is often the simplest means of entering into a restricted network. Cybercriminals can do that using IoT devices.

A malicious computer worm caused the massive 2010 Stuxnet attack on a nuclear facility in Iran via a USB flash drive connected into one of its computers. The worm reportedly ruined almost one-fifth of the country’s nuclear centrifuges. Modern centrifuges are IoT devices that primarily run on software.

4. Physical Security

IoT devices require minimal human intervention to operate. These devices are often installed in remote locations where they must remain for days or even months without anyone checking on them. Such conditions leave them exposed to physical tampering or data thefts.

Attackers could steal data from the device or introduce malware via a flash drive, thereby getting access to confidential data. Besides, they can even tamper with the devices’ functioning.

5. Compromised Privacy, Confidentiality, and Integrity

Cybercriminals, governments, and business rivals can spy on and tamper with the privacy and confidentiality of unsuspecting individuals and businesses using IoT devices. They may access, attack, and use confidential information without the individuals’ permission. For example, attackers may hack a security camera and spy on their target’s actions and habits. They may also steal data from IoT devices and use it to blackmail their target or sell sensitive, confidential information to competitors in the black market.

The Bottom Line

IoT is all around us and brings efficiency to everyday processes. As the popularity of IoT devices grows, security implications and risks will grow with it. The only way to prevent the attacks from happening is by securing the devices and spreading awareness about the biggest IoT risks.

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