Dangers of Internet of Things – Security Issues

Internet of Things (IoT) is about smart appliances that have a computer chip at the core and are connected to the Internet for functioning. An example can be a remotely triggered smart oven that heats up the food inside by the time you reach home from the office.

Usage of smart appliances is on the rise as you can control them from anywhere, using your smartphone or portable computer – via the Internet. That means, your appliance, or any smart gadget for the matter, is connected to the Internet and is prone to cyber-attacks. The Internet of things is basically the Internet that connects different types of devices, other than just the computers – something like the SkyNet. You use your computer/tablet/smartphone to control the connected devices.

Internet of Things Security

Internet of things - dangers

Another good example could be the fire alarm system. You get notified on your phone when the alarm goes off. You can log into your CCTV system using a smartphone or tablet to see how things are at home and take action accordingly. Or the alarm may be programmed to dial fire department directly.

Dangers of Internet of Things

With almost everything connected to the Internet, it is not just the computers that are at risk of being compromised but even your toaster. I read a comment somewhere, involving a firewall for your toaster. You need to take actions to secure anything that you know is or will be connected to the Internet.

Every smart device or gadget needs to be secured so that it is not easily available to hackers. In the case of the toaster, you can use a password to secure it. The password again should be a strong one. Experts suggest different passwords for different devices. In my opinion, it will be hard to remember passwords if you have your entire house connected to a main computer that controls central heating system, fire alarm sensors and other devices via Bluetooth or other wireless techniques. The best method would be to use a good firewall device for the entire collection. You may or may not be able to add a firewall to each and every device, but you sure can make sure the firewall on the central computer is good enough to protect your devices from being hacked.

We are not talking about future, but the very present. It has been reported by Proofpoint Inc, a security company, that someone had used household appliances to initiate a spam email attack against specific enterprises or individuals. According to Proof Point, some 750,000 emails were being sent by devices spread all over the world. It means that the hackers had full control of people’s smart appliances, and they could use it for any purpose, any time. IoT ransomware can hijack your gadgets too!

Take a look at this Infographic about IoT Security.

Secure objects on Internet of Things

If it is on the Internet, it has to be secured in the same way as you secure your computers connected to the Internet. While making sure that the central computer is always up to date and patched, you also have to see options available with the smart devices. Since the device is on the Internet, it must have an IP address. You can get the IP address using the central computer and use it to log into the computer chips on different devices. Check out if there are any other options like firewall. If yes, turn them on. Most of the devices like routers etc. will have firewalls for sure but other consumer items may not have one. That is why you need a strong firewall to make your entire network invisible on the Internet. This firewall should be attached to the main computer or central computer – as you may call it – that controls all other devices.

You also have to care for the passwords that come with the devices. Normally, they (the passwords) are 1234, 0000 or “password” and as such, are very easy to crack. Anyone can take over the device if you do not change the password(s) to something stronger. Check to see if the device supports passwords and if yes, assign it a good password rather than just leaving it at 1234.

Also read: Security threats in Smart Devices and Privacy Issues.

It looks too early to care about security issues related to Internet of Things, but misuse has begun, as evident from the report from Proof Point. Just understand the following: if it is on the network, it can be hacked as it will have its own address. Accordingly, take care to secure the devices so that they do not pry on you. What if someone hacks into your CCTV system and starts monitoring you? The possibility exists and hence you should be prepared.

Want to read about Net Neutrality?

References

1. Proof Point, Internet of Things (IoT) Cyberattack.

2. Entrepreneur, Internet of Things: New Threats.

Posted by on , in Category General with Tags
Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN