What Are We Doing About IoT Security?
Advances in IoT technology are exciting – but the security risks that go along with them? Not so much. Find out what is being done to address IoT security.
With the rise of the smart home, it’s becoming clear that the Internet of Things (IoT) is not just a fad.
According to Gartner, it will grow to 26 billion devices by 2020. That means there’s going to be smart devices lighting, heating, automating and protecting your home, your vehicle, your loved ones, and more.
When it comes to making your life easier and more productive, IoT technology offers a lot of advantages. It could even prove to be a game-changer for households who provide care for older family members.
But as with any new technology, there is a darker side waiting to be exploited. Let’s find out what the risks are, and what the industry is doing to secure the Internet of Things.
IoT Technology’s Greatest Asset Is Its Greatest Weakness
IoT devices generally rely on WiFi connections to “talk” to each other, and the internet. Bluetooth is also a popular communication protocol, and certain home automation and medical devices use the ZigBee wireless standard.
But the open nature of these standards and protocols means that security is a thorny issue. In some cases, third-parties can pick up the network encryption keys used by these devices.
An attacker can use these keys to join your wireless network, which could potentially grant access to a lot of your personal information. More data becomes vulnerable to theft as more devices join the IoT.
At present, devices only need a minimum number of security features before they are certified for home use. And devices are normally authenticated once, so it can be difficult to monitor changes on the network. Experts advise users to change a device’s default settings to prevent your home network from easily being compromised when a new IoT device joins it.
Many devices don’t have the memory or battery power to perform complicated filtering functions, so traditional security tools are often too resource-intensive for IoT devices. And some devices don’t have interfaces that allow users to change settings.
It all sounds scary, but hackers don’t always want access to your personal data.
More often, hackers target IoT devices with malware and turn them into so-called “zombie bots” that use your internet connection to do their dirty work. These bots become part of a network that can be used to trigger DDOS attacks. Such an attack took sites like Twitter and Amazon offline in October 2016.
But, Don’t Panic!
Don’t worry if you already have IoT devices in your home. Internet security giant Symantec recommends that home users change the default passwords for all of their devices, if possible. It’ll make access that much more difficult.
You can also check to see if the manufacturer has released any firmware updates.
And the Federal Trade Commission is already on the case. They recently launched the IoT Home Inspector Challenge. People are free to submit ideas for tools to solve security problems for the IoT. They’re offering a cash prize of $25,000 for the best technical solution.
In addition to the FTC, there are other programs and foundations that are working hard to help keep smart homes safe.
The Internet of Things Security Foundation (IoTSF) was established in September 2015. It followed a summit at Bletchley Park, the British home of Second World War code breakers. They’re dedicated to improving IoT security.
The Cybersecurity Assurance Program at Underwriters Laboratories (UL CAP) is seeking to investigate IoT security risks. There may come a time when your internet provider can quarantine your devices if they detect malware in your network.
Wrapping It Up
If the IoT sounds both exciting and complicated at the same time, then just know that we’re working hard over here at Tekoia to help make your life easier.
Research shows that smartphones can be a great way to access security settings that might otherwise be difficult to find.
We are constantly updating our SURE Universal Remote app for the IoT so that you can create a collection of your smart devices and control them all from a single app. You won’t need to waste time and energy downloading an app for each device or manufacturer – everything will be accessible from the familiar SURE Universal.
Thankfully, the benefits of IoT outweigh the threats. The growing field of security engineering is applying new ways of thinking to the growing industry around IoT devices.
Over to you – do you have any worries about IoT security? If so, let us know and we’ll do our best to dig up the most up-to-date information for you.