IoT Security Issues

It is estimated that there will be over 41 billion connected devices by 2027. Hackers are capitalizing on this growth by targeting various organizations and industries with simple cyber-attacks that initiate from Internet of Things (IoT) devices with weak security, leaving some businesses paralyzed and defeated.

What’s worse is that these cybercriminals are even taking advantage of the increase in remote workers and their connected devices due to the coronavirus, by increasing their attacks on those devices. Since 63% of enterprises, 92% of industrial organizations, and 82% of healthcare organizations use IoT, almost every company is at risk. Although IoT devices have proven productivity benefits for businesses, connecting devices to your network extends the attack surface and provides more entry points for hackers.

IoT Security CheckUp

The Challenges of IoT Security

IoT is steadily growing as new devices are created and deployed in a variety of environments. This widespread deployment makes IoT security a pressing issue for organizations because the devices that they deploy are likely to have a number of security issues, including:

 

  • Old Operating Systems: IoT devices do not always use the most up-to-date version of the operating systems that they are running. This means that the IoT devices’ OSs may contain publicly known vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit to take over or damage these IoT devices.
  • Lack of Integrated Security: Unlike desktop computers, IoT devices rarely come with built-in antivirus and other security solutions. This increases the probability that they will be infected by malware that enables the attacker to use them in an attack or gain access to the sensitive data collected and processed by these devices.
  • Hard to Patch or Update: All software requires periodic updates to update functionality or close security holes. IoT devices’ unique deployment scenarios mean that they rarely receive updates (no one thinks to update their Internet-connected light bulbs or toaster). This leaves the devices highly vulnerable to targeted attacks.
  • Insecure Passwords: IoT devices have a number of password-related issues. Device manufacturers commonly have weak default passwords that users do not change before or after deploying them. Additionally, manufacturers occasionally include hardcoded passwords in their systems that users cannot change. These weak passwords place the IoT devices at high-risk. As attackers can simply log into these devices with these easily-guessed passwords or simple brute-force attacks.
  • Untrusted Deployment Locations: IoT devices are often designed to be deployed in public and remote places where an attacker may be able to gain physical access to the devices. This physical access may allow the attacker to bypass existing defenses within the devices.
  • Use of Insecure Protocols: Some network protocols – such as Telnet – have been officially deprecated due to their lack of built-in security. However, IoT devices are known for using these insecure protocols, placing their data and security at risk.

 

All of these potential risks make deploying IoT security a vital part of an organization’s cybersecurity strategy.

Attacks Against IoT Devices

IoT devices are a significant threat to enterprise cybersecurity due to the popularity of these devices being deployed on business networks. Unfortunately, these devices often contain vulnerabilities that expose them to exploitation. Cybercriminals have taken advantage of these vulnerabilities, and carry out common attacks on these IoT devices which include:

 

  • Direct Exploitation: Printers (and other IoT devices) are a common access point to an organization’s network. The need for everyone to be able to access the printer means that these devices are rarely isolated by firewalls and often have high permissions. Attackers take advantage of this by gaining initial access to a network via the printer, then expanding their access through the enterprise network.
  • IoT Botnets: IoT devices are Internet-connected computers, making them ideally suited to performing automated attacks. Once compromised using botnet malware, an IoT device may be used to perform Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, attempt to gain unauthorized access to user accounts via credential stuffing, spread ransomware or other malware, or take other malicious actions against an organization’s systems.
  • IoT-Based Data Breaches: IoT devices are commonly designed to process sensitive data, perform critical actions, or are connected to cloud subscription services, making them a prime target for cybercriminals. For example, exploitation of Internet-connected cameras and/or the users cloud service could allow an attacker access to potentially sensitive data or other valuable information.

Achieving IoT and OT Security with Check Point

Companies are deploying increasing numbers of IoT devices, and these devices pose a significant threat to both them and other organizations. IoT devices with privileged roles – such as operating machinery in a factory or monitoring an important location – can be compromised and used to steal sensitive data or impair an organization’s operations. Additionally, botnets – composed of IoT devices – are becoming more common and cause significant harm via DDoS and other attacks.

 

IoT devices can be vulnerable at multiple levels, and an organization needs to have a clear understanding of the risk in order to mitigate that risk. If you have IoT devices deployed on your network, take advantage of Check Point’s free IoT Firmware Risk Assessment and IoT Security Check Up offerings to achieve comprehensive visibility into the cybersecurity risks of your IoT infrastructure. You’re also welcome to request a free demo to see how Check Point can help to secure IoT firmware and mitigate these IoT security risks.

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