Internet of Things Security Issues: You Won’t Believe How Hackable Your Smart Devices Are!

Tan Dang

Tan Dang | 12/10/2023

Internet of Things Security Issues: The Unbelievable Hackability of Smart Devices

That nifty new “smart home” IoT device you just installed might not be as safe as it seems. From WiFi-enabled lightbulbs to voice-controlled thermostats, the Internet of Things (IoT) has rapidly added connectivity to everyday appliances and gadgets that make our lives more convenient. But convenience often comes at the cost of security – and your IoT devices have become a magnet for hackers.

Recent headline-grabbing stories about baby monitors being hacked, smart cars held for ransom, and even WiFi-connected chastity belts hacked should serve as urgent wake-up calls. The devices we welcome into our most intimate spaces can easily become Trojan horses for attackers to invade our privacy, steal data, or spy on us if security is not made a top priority.

Here, we will highlight jaw-dropping examples of IoT security vulnerabilities that could leave you thinking twice before installing that next smart appliance. We’ll outline the various ways connected devices can be compromised and provide advice on how to assess if the convenience offered by the IoT is worth the risks. With smart homes and workplaces now the norm, it’s time to have an honest conversation about the insecurities of these devices so consumers can make informed choices. You may be shocked at just how porous many “smart” devices are out of the box. But there are steps you can take to enjoy the IoT more safely - if you choose not to forego the added connectivity altogether.

Examples of Easily Hackable IoT Devices

Examples of Easily Hackable IoT Devices

We now engage with common items in a whole new way via the Internet of Things (IoT). From smart refrigerators to wearable fitness trackers, many IoT devices have made our lives more convenient and efficient. However, along with these advancements comes a significant concern: the security vulnerabilities that plague IoT device security, making them easy targets for hackers.

Let’s take a closer look at some shocking security risks of easily hackable IoT systems that highlight the urgent need for improved security measures:

  • Baby Monitors: Recent incidents have exposed the IoT security breaches of baby monitors. Weak security protocols and default passwords have allowed unauthorized individuals to gain access to these devices, potentially invading the privacy of families and endangering the safety of infants.
  • Smart Home Security Systems: While smart home security systems aim to protect our homes, they can ironically become points of security challenges. Inadequate encryption, outdated firmware, and poor authentication mechanisms have enabled hackers to disarm alarms, access security footage, and even gain control over other connected devices within the home network.
  • Connected Thermostats: IoT-enabled thermostats provide convenience and energy efficiency. However, flaws in their security design have allowed cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to these devices, potentially compromising user privacy and even obtaining sensitive data about daily routines and occupancy patterns.
  • Wearable Devices: Fitness trackers, smartwatches, and other wearable devices have gained popularity for their ability to monitor health, track activity, and provide personalized recommendations. Yet, inadequate security measures have exposed users to security concerns such as unauthorized access to personal health data, location tracking, and even the potential manipulation of health-related information.
  • Smart TVs: Internet-connected televisions offer a range of entertainment options and seamless streaming experiences. However, vulnerabilities in their software and lax security practices have allowed hackers to compromise these devices, gaining access to personal information, spying on users through built-in cameras or microphones, and even remotely controlling the TV.

These examples serve as stark reminders of the pressing need for enhanced IoT security. The ease with which these devices can be hacked underscores the importance of manufacturers and consumers prioritizing robust security measures. By learning from the IoT security issues present in these easily hackable smart devices, we can work towards establishing a safer and more secure IoT ecosystem.

How IoT Devices Get Hacked

Understanding how IoT devices get hacked is crucial for individuals and organizations to mitigate risks and safeguard their data. Let’s delve into the common methods used to compromise IoT devices:

  • Weak or Default Passwords: One of the primary reasons IoT devices are susceptible to hacking is the use of weak or default passwords. Many users fail to change the default credentials provided by manufacturers, making it easy for hackers to gain unauthorized access. Attackers employ brute-force techniques or exploit publicly available default password lists to compromise devices.
  • Lack of Firmware Updates: IoT devices often run on firmware, which is the software embedded in the device’s hardware. For the purpose of addressing security flaws and enhancing device performance, manufacturers offer firmware upgrades. However, users frequently neglect to update their IoT devices, leaving them exposed to known exploits that hackers can exploit.
  • Inadequate Security Measures: Some IoT devices lack robust security features due to various reasons, such as cost constraints or rushed development. Insufficient encryption, weak authentication mechanisms, and the absence of secure communication protocols make it easier for hackers to intercept and manipulate data exchanged between devices and control systems.
  • Vulnerabilities in Third-party Software: IoT devices often rely on third-party software components or libraries, which may contain vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities can be exploited by hackers to gain unauthorized access to the device or launch attacks on other devices connected within the same network.
  • Physical Access Exploitation: Physical access to IoT devices can provide an opportunity for attackers to compromise them. Hackers can tamper with the device’s hardware or firmware, insert malicious code, or extract sensitive information. This method is particularly relevant for IoT devices deployed in public spaces or shared environments.
  • Network Vulnerabilities: IoT devices communicate through networks, and weaknesses in network security can expose them to hacking attempts. Insecure Wi-Fi connections, unencrypted transmissions, or inadequate network segmentation can facilitate unauthorized access to IoT devices and compromise their functionality or data integrity.
  • Supply Chain Attacks: Throughout the supply chain, from manufacturing to distribution, IoT devices can be compromised by attackers. Malicious actors can introduce backdoors, tamper with firmware, or manipulate hardware components during production or shipment, leading to compromised devices from the moment they are deployed.

Ways Consumers Can Improve IoT Security

To enhance IoT security and protect personal data, consumers can implement the following measures.

Physical Security Measures

Firstly, focusing on physical security is often overlooked but plays a crucial role in protecting IoT devices. Consumers can enhance physical security by keeping their IoT devices in secure locations away from prying eyes or easy access by unauthorized individuals. Placing devices in less visible areas and avoiding windows can minimize the risk of attracting attention. Additionally, consumers can consider using physical locks or security devices to prevent theft or tampering, providing an extra layer of protection.

Limit Data Shared

Secondly, limiting the data shared by IoT devices is essential to protect privacy. Consumers should review the privacy settings of their IoT devices and associated services, ensuring they understand what data is being collected and transmitted. By disabling any unnecessary data collection features or permissions, consumers can minimize the amount of personal information shared. It’s important to be cautious when granting access to sensitive information and only share necessary data with trusted devices and services, helping to mitigate potential privacy breaches.

Isolate IoT Network

Thirdly, creating a separate network dedicated solely to IoT devices is an effective way to enhance IoT security. By setting up a separate Wi-Fi network or VLAN specifically for IoT devices, consumers can isolate them from other devices on the home network. This network segmentation prevents unauthorized access from IoT devices to other devices and sensitive data. By implementing this measure, consumers can mitigate the risk of a compromised IoT device impacting the security of other devices and information on their home network.

Use Multi-factor Authentication

Lastly, using multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security to IoT devices and associated accounts. By enabling MFA whenever available on IoT devices and associated apps or services, consumers can require an additional form of verification, such as a unique code sent to a mobile device, in addition to the password. Regularly reviewing and updating MFA settings ensures optimal security. By utilizing MFA, consumers significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access to their IoT devices, ensuring that only authorized users can control or access sensitive functionalities.

How about Enterprise IoT Security?

As the use of IoT devices extends beyond individual users to include businesses, ensuring robust security measures becomes paramount. Enterprise IoT security requires a proactive approach to safeguard sensitive data, protect against cyber threats, and maintain operational integrity. Here are several key considerations for enhancing enterprise IoT security:

Blockchain Solutions

Blockchain technology can offer enhanced security for enterprise IoT deployments. With its decentralized and immutable nature, blockchain can provide secure and transparent data management, tamper-proof transaction records, and improved device identity management. Integrating blockchain into the IoT ecosystem can mitigate the risk of data breaches and unauthorized manipulation.

Security by Design

Adopting a “security by design” approach involves incorporating security measures at every stage of the IoT device lifecycle. This includes secure device provisioning, robust authentication mechanisms, and encryption protocols. By embedding security into the design and development process, enterprises can build IoT solutions that are inherently more resistant to cyber security risks.

Encryption

Implementing strong encryption protocols is critical to protect data transmitted between IoT devices and backend systems. Encryption ensures that sensitive information remains confidential and secure even if intercepted during transmission. By adopting industry-standard encryption algorithms, enterprises can fortify data privacy and reduce the risk of unauthorized access.

Access Controls

Implementing strict access controls is vital to managing and securing enterprise IoT environments. Enterprises should establish granular access policies that allow only authorized personnel to interact with IoT devices or access sensitive data. This includes employing strong authentication methods, such as multi-factor authentication, and regularly reviewing and revoking access privileges as needed.

Enterprise Security Measures Needed

Enterprises need to adopt a holistic approach to security that encompasses not only IoT devices but also their broader IT infrastructure. This includes implementing robust firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and security information and event management (SIEM) solutions. Additionally, establishing incident response plans, conducting employee training, and regularly monitoring and updating security measures are essential components of an enterprise-wide security strategy.

As enterprises navigate the complex landscape of IoT security, it is crucial to partner with experienced and reliable vendors. Orient Software, a trusted outsourcing software development company, offers specialized expertise in consulting and implementing IoT security solutions. With our deep knowledge of IoT technologies and commitment to delivering secure software, Orient Software can assist enterprises in designing, developing, and maintaining robust and secure IoT deployments.


Related articles