In recent years, we have witnessed a rapid growth of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in our homes and workplaces. These network-connected devices such as smart thermostats, security cameras, light bulbs, and home appliances offer us convenience and efficiency, but they also pose new challenges in terms of cybersecurity. Hackers have set their sights on IoT devices, and in this article we’ll explore why this has happened and what steps we can take to protect ourselves.
The allure of IoT for hackers
One of the main reasons hackers are focused on attacking IoT devices is the security vulnerabilities inherent in many of these devices. Due to the lack of uniform security standards and the rush to bring products to market, some manufacturers have neglected to implement adequate security measures. This leaves IoT devices open to attack.
Number of IoT devices
The number of IoT devices in use has increased exponentially in recent years. According to estimates, by 2025 there will be more than 75 billion connected IoT devices worldwide. This massive proliferation of devices creates a vast playing field for hackers, as each device represents a potential gateway into a network or system.
IoT devices can collect a lot of valuable information about our lives and habits. From location data and behavior patterns to personal and financial information, these devices store and transmit sensitive data. This makes them an attractive target for hackers looking to obtain valuable information for personal gain or to sell on the black market.
Access to other systems
IoT devices are often connected to other systems on our network, such as routers, servers, or storage devices. By compromising a vulnerable IoT device, hackers can gain access to other systems on the network and expand their attack. This can lead to data theft, information hijacking, or even the interruption of critical services.
Types of attacks on IoT devices
Denial of service (DDoS) attacks
DDoS attacks are a common form of attack on IoT devices. Hackers take advantage of vulnerabilities in devices to infect them with malware and create botnets, networks of compromised devices. These botnets can be used to launch massive attacks that overwhelm an online service, rendering it inaccessible to legitimate users.
Theft of personal information
Hackers can target IoT devices to access valuable personal information. This includes identity data, access credentials, financial information and any other information stored or transmitted by the device. The theft of personal information can have serious consequences, such as identity theft or financial fraud.
Some hackers seek to hijack IoT devices for ransom or to use them as part of criminal activities, such as sending spam emails or launching cyberattacks. By hijacking an IoT device, hackers gain control over it and can use it for their own malicious purposes.
Manipulation of device operation
Another type of attack on IoT devices is manipulation of their normal operation. Hackers can take control of a device to alter its settings, change its behavior, or even physically damage the device. This can have serious impacts, such as controlling a security system to disable it or sabotaging industrial equipment.
How to protect yourself from attacks on IoT devices
Change default passwords
Many IoT devices come with weak or common default passwords. It is critical to change these passwords to strong, unique passwords as soon as the device is set up.
Regularly update the firmware
Keeping the firmware of the IoT device updated is essential to protect against known vulnerabilities. Be sure to install manufacturer updates as soon as they are available.
Set up a separate network for your IoT devices
Consider setting up a separate network for your IoT devices. This can help mitigate the risk of a compromised device compromising other systems on your main network.
Use an IoT security solution
There are security solutions designed specifically to protect IoT devices. These solutions can detect and block suspicious activity, as well as provide additional authentication and encryption features.
Disable unnecessary features
Disable any functions or features on your IoT device that you don’t need. The fewer features that are active, the fewer potential entry points there are for hackers.
Do your research before you buy
Before purchasing an IoT device, do your research on the manufacturer and their approach to security. Opt for trusted brands and manufacturers who take the safety of their products seriously.
Hackers are increasingly interested in attacking IoT devices due to security vulnerabilities, the number of devices available, the valuable information they can obtain, and the potential access to other systems. It is crucial that users take steps to protect their IoT devices and their network in general. By following security best practices, such as changing default passwords, keeping firmware up to date, and using proper security solutions, we can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to cyberattacks. The security of our IoT devices must be a priority in an increasingly connected world.