7 IoT Security Issues and How To Prevent Them

Software Development
7 IoT Security Issues and How To Prevent Them
Article by Sumana Ganguly
Last Updated: April 29, 2023

The Internet of Things (IoT) market is growing fast. According to Statista, there will be over 30 billion actively connected IoT units by 2025. This places a significant emphasis on the importance of reliable security measures in these devices.

In this article, we will uncover the seven biggest IoT security issues currently jeopardizing these systems everywhere. We will also discuss how to address these security challenges through IoT security best practices.

You can also liaise with a cybersecurity consulting company that can help you get to the bottom of any security issue quickly and effortlessly.

Top Seven Internet of Things Security Issues

From hijacking of IoT devices over potential home invasions to dangers of rogue devices, these are the 7 most serious Internet of Things security concerns.

  1. Ransomware and Hijacking of IoT Devices
  2. Insufficient Testing and Lack of Updates
  3. Home Invasions
  4. IoT-Driven Financial Crime
  5. Remote Smart Vehicle Access
  6. Rogue and Counterfeit IoT Devices
  7. Lack of User Awareness on Internet of Things Security

1. Ransomware and Hijacking of IoT Devices

Internet of Things devices that have weak enterprise cybersecurity measures can become a target of ransomware — malware that encrypts and blocks access to users’ sensitive files. The real trouble begins when a hacker that infected the device with malware demands ransom money if a victim wants to see their files unlocked.

This security threat could put wearable technology, healthcare trackers, and smart homes at great risk. It’s a distressing thought to think of a house that is locked down or a smart vehicle that doesn’t start until the ransom is paid. 

Ransomware attacks could not only lock users out of IoT devices and related platforms but also disable devices altogether and steal users’ data. The rapid rise of a global number of IoT devices will make this particular IoT security issue unpredictable in terms of possible permutations. However, the good news is that, because the majority of IoT information is stored in the cloud, this malware may not have valuable data to lock.

Business owner using IoT device
Some IoT device manufacturers don't provide necessary tests and software updates

2. Insufficient Testing and Lack of Updates

One of the security issues with IoT devices is that companies producing them are often careless when it comes to proper testing and providing timely software updates.

This is a big problem because consumers tend to believe manufacturers and their judgment and are often convinced that they have taken all the measures to provide safety mechanisms. But, due to the fast-paced growth of the Internet of Things market, a lot of manufacturers are in a hurry to create and release their products without giving testing much thought.

Sometimes, the only updates on offer are for shorter periods. And since hyperproduction of devices is also a reality, they may abandon these updates to focus instead on the new generation of devices and urge people to switch to them. As a result, your IoT device with outdated software may be exposed to countless malware and hacker attacks, and other security breaches.

There is even another scary possibility: during an update, there might be downtime when a device sends its info to the cloud. During this prolonged period, and if your connection is nonencrypted, the update files may be unprotected, opening the doors to hackers.

Regular automatic updates are of utmost importance for avoiding IoT security issues. It is manufacturer’s duty to update the device’s software as soon as vulnerabilities are exposed, and certain malware attacks become widespread.

3. Home Invasions

The most distressing scenario of IoT security issues is home intrusions or invasions because they blur the line between the virtual and physical world and place users in genuine, tangible danger.

The Internet of Things devices is becoming part and parcel of a rising number of homes, which gave birth to the concept of “smart homes.”

This home automation comes with a big threat in that unsafe devices with poor defense mechanisms could broadcast IP addresses. The so-called Shodan searches may make it possible for hackers to locate the address of the device user.

The possibilities of this abuse are apparent and can even go so far as the user’s address reaching criminal circles. The way to prevent this IoT security breach from happening is by connecting through VPNs and securing your login credentials — which we will discuss later in the article.

4. IoT-Driven Financial Crime

Electronic payment companies that deploy Internet of Things may expect a surge in financial crime and synthetic identity fraud coming. 

Some of these companies experiment with AI and machine learning, while many of them will soon need to recognize the importance of integrating information on different business levels. This is to ensure the timely detection of fraud patterns and their complex signals using deep learning.

All financial companies will face the challenge of launching these new models because they experience compliance and operational issues. That is, unless they improve model lifecycle and risk management strategies that include a rising threat of IoT security breaches. 

5. Remote Smart Vehicle Access

An IoT security challenge close to home invasion is the hijack of smart vehicles, which are increasingly inevitable on roads thanks to the implementation of Internet of Things in cars.

Vulnerable IoT devices can pave the way for great risks, such as remote hijacking of your smart car’s access. This can compromise their autonomous capabilities, such as self-driving and the detection of other vehicles.

These malicious intrusions are, obviously, a huge threat to public safety as they can cause accidents. Also, remote vehicle access can be subject to ransomware, as a hacker may demand a fee for unlocking the car or enabling its engine.

Besides IoT device manufacturers working on solving this security breach issue, car manufacturers are also paying attention to it. Microsoft and Ford Motor have developed an infotainment system that has proven vulnerable and open to these attacks. Luckily, the developers had enough time to address these attacks appropriately as they were mostly happening in a time before widespread wireless networks.

iot security issues: remote vehicles
Remote smart vehicle access is a very dangerous IoT security issue

6. Rogue and Counterfeit IoT Devices

A significant IoT security challenge is closing the perimeter and managing all of a single user’s devices. The sharp rise of Internet of Things devices’ popularity and production volume brings the problem of home networks to the table.

Without any authorization, users are installing rogue and counterfeit IoT devices in secured networks. These units either replace the original ones or integrate into the network to collect confidential info and data, breaking the network perimeter.

These devices can turn into rogue access points, video cameras, thermostats, and other types of devices to steal communication data without the user’s knowledge.

7. Lack of User Awareness on Internet of Things Security

Because the Internet of Things is such new technology, its users are still getting used to its quirks and traits. People have largely mastered their own security in domains of phishing, virus, and malware attacks on their computers and internet scams. They have learned how to secure their WiFi networks and protect their credit cards online.

But, when it comes to IoT security issues, they too can be attributed to users’ lack of education and neglect, as much as they are on the manufacturer’s shoulders.

This user ignorance and lack of awareness is one of the biggest Internet of Things security issues because it can put everyone at risk: the users themselves as well as those that are connected in one way or another with their own IoT units.

Social engineering attacks capitalize on the simple fact that a human factor is the easiest to bypass by targeting humans using Internet of Things.

A particularly severe example of such abuse of unprepared human factor was the devastating 2010 attack against a nuclear facility in Iran. The target was an IoT device called programmable logic controller, and it only took one worker to plug in a USB flash drive into one of the internal computers to disrupt the isolation of the internal network from the public one, which made it vulnerable to attack.

Agency description goes here
Agency description goes here
Agency description goes here

Five Ways To Solve IoT Vulnerabilities and Protect Your IoT Device

With the above user-related IoT security issues in mind, we will now touch upon some effective ways how you can prevent IoT security breaches from happening.

  1. Change Passwords Often and Make Them Strong
  2. Don’t Rely on Cloud Technology
  3. Avoid Universal Plug & Play Features
  4. Use Secondary Network
  5. Update Your IoT Device Regularly

1. Change Passwords Often and Make Them Strong

Changing passwords, on a regular basis, on internet accounts, computers, and mobile devices is a norm nowadays. By now, it should also become a norm for Internet of Things units.

You should always do your due diligence and make sure that:

  • Each IoT device has a unique password
  • You change these passwords at least several times a year
  • Avoid common and generic passwords
  • Make these passwords very complex and tough to crack

Ransomware attacks could not only lock users out of IoT devices and related platforms but disable devices and steal users’ data. Moreover, it’s worth mentioning that data vulnerability can often be the reason for unprotected default passwords. For this goal, users can always apply a high-quality password manager tool to take charge of their secure password system and prevent their data from being stolen.

2. Don’t Rely on Cloud Technology

Cloud technology is very convenient for sure, but it is also a quite vulnerable emerging technology prone to attacks. IoT manufacturers usually provide cloud storage space with every device you buy. And while it is enticing to use something that comes free of charge, consider that:

  • You need an active connection to access data and files stored in the cloud
  • This connection can be hacked into while you’re accessing your cloud account

Do yourself a favor and go through privacy measures that come with your cloud account thoroughly. Also, make sure you secure your date or, even better, store your files and data locally, where they’re beyond the reach of fraudsters.

Learn more about the types of cloud services.

3. Avoid Universal Plug & Play Features

The Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) feature that a majority of IoT units have makes it possible for multiple devices to connect with each other. This means you don’t need to configure every device on its own.

Although this provides an obvious convenience to the Internet of Things ecosystem in your house or working space, be aware that:

  • UPnP protocols use local networks for connecting
  • These networks, as we’ve seen, are quite prone to outside attacks and can be easily accessed
  • If the attack happens, it might affect multiple IoT devices by attackers accessing them remotely

Turning off the Plug & Play on Internet of Things devices would provide you peace of mind in that regard. 

4. Use Secondary Networks

WiFi users often create multiple networks that include one with access restricted to themselves and their families.

This approach of making an additional network can be applied to IoT devices, as it helps to:

  • Prevent unauthorized access to your private files
  • Stop any attempts of hijacking IoT units and implementing malware
  • Completely place the IoT device beyond the reach of any outside entity, protecting encrypted data

5. Update Your IoT Device Regularly

As we’ve pointed out the lack of updates as one of IoT security issues, automatic updates must be in place to check for official updates by the device manufacturer. This installs security patches on your device(s) and stops hackers from using novel ways of intruding on them.

Regular IoT software updates ultimately provide:

  • Safety in knowing that your systems are updated with the latest security measures that can prevent the newest forms of attacks
  • A higher level of security for your home or office as a whole

How to solve IOT vulnerabilities

Other IoT Security Best Practices

Here are some more IoT security best practices to help protect your devices and data:

  • Limit access
  • Use a firewall
  • Use encryption
  • Train employees
  • Use a separate network
  • Perform regular backups
  • Keep software up-to-date
  • Update firmware regularly
  • Monitor for suspicious activity
  • Disable unnecessary features
  • Be cautious when connecting to public networks
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The Future of Internet of Things Security: How Will IoT Evolve in 2023?

Internet of Things security concerns are the subject of research within the industry itself as well as the best software engineering schools that recognize and study the potential these systems have.

In 2022, more and more enterprises realized the potential of IoT as business investment accounted for more than 50% of the overall IoT spend. This implies that manufacturers will need to double their efforts with cybersecurity in order to meet corporate expectations.

The average users will have to do their part too, by educating themselves and being up to speed with IoT security innovations and their importance. 

As most advances, this one too begins with organized efforts on a higher level. In March 2019, the US Congress introduced a cloud cybersecurity bill whose purpose was to make IoT units bought by the government come with at least minimum safety measures.

Some manufacturers are already offering IoT products with embedded security. Also, wireless communication and information processing are being improved with certain optimization methods such as:

  • Convex optimization
  • Heuristic methods
  • Machine learning
  • Artificial neural networks
  • Evolutionary algorithms
  • Hybrids of AI and other optimization methods

We can also expect a formation of industry-specific fields of IoT security research that may focus and bring forth development in:

  • End-to-end system security models
  • Secure cloud computing in IoT
  • IoT design and implementation security and privacy issues
  • Prediction of attacks on IoT systems and detection of intrusion based on machine learning
  • Secure IoT systems architecture
  • Privacy of data and techniques of IoT device security
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Takeaways on IoT Security Issues

IoT security is a complex issue with potential breaches from multiple sources. As the technology is still in its infancy, both manufacturers and users are searching for solutions.

Security challenges can arise from malware attacks, user incompetence, lack of official updates, uneven manufacturing standards, and rogue IoT devices. To minimize the impact of bad security, users can take measures such as keeping IoT networks separate, avoiding Plug & Play features, not using cloud storage, and keeping unique and complex passwords for IoT devices.

IoT Security FAQs

1. What is IoT security?

IoT security refers to the practices and measures put in place to protect the privacy, integrity, and availability of data transmitted by and stored on IoT devices. Specialized cybersecurity companies are adept at implementing these useful tactics, as are top software development agencies.

2. What is the importance of IoT security?

IoT security is essential for protecting privacy, preventing cyberattacks, ensuring business continuity, maintaining brand reputation, and ensuring regulatory compliance. Implementing strong IoT security measures is critical to ensure the safe and secure operation of IoT devices and networks.

3. What are examples of attacks on IoT systems and IoT devices?

Some common attacks that target IoT systems and devices are botnet attacks, DDoS attacks, data theft, ransomware attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks, physical attacks, credential stuffing attacks, supply chain attacks, and more.

4. What are the top IoT security threats?

There are a lot of IoT security threats, such as weak or default passwords, lack of firmware updates, inadequate encryption, insecure APIs, and physical tampering, as well as the attacks we just discussed above.


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