Three Reasons Why IoT Security Needs To Be a Priority in 2023
IoT security risks are quickly becoming more prevalent which is why we must prioritze security in the new year.
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People increasingly use Internet of Things (IoT) devices in today’s society. Unfortunately, IoT security risks have increased with the popularity of these products. People must allocate time and other resources to improve their security in 2023, or they could put themselves and others at risk. Here are some of the most pressing security concerns to target in the coming year.
1. People Use More IoT Devices Than Non-IoT Products
Most people have heard staggering statistics about the number of currently used IoT devices or connected devices within the next few years. However, they sometimes saw those statistics as a representation of what would eventually happen, but not yet.
However, an amazing thing that came to pass in 2020 is the number of active and connected IoT devices surpassed the number of non-IoT devices used. It is not hard to imagine how that happened when considering the sheer number of items falling under the IoT umbrella.
A person might use a fitness tracker during a gym visit, then rely on a smart coffeemaker, smart washing machine, and smart lights once they get home. When it is time to sleep, they might drift off on a connected mattress that adjusts to their positions.
Of course, that is just on the consumer level. Companies worldwide use industrial Internet of Things products to track critical processes in real-time, find the sources of assembly line backups, and ensure workers move in ergonomically friendly ways to prevent injuries. The increased connectivity provides workplace managers with more visibility over operations, but it also broadens the potential attack surface for cybercriminals to target.
Fortunately, users can take steps to reduce the chances of potential attacks, ranging from changing the devices’ default passwords to keeping software updated. Sometimes, people are so eager to start using their IoT devices that security becomes an afterthought. However, failing to be proactive against IoT security risks could put users more at risk for device or network compromise.
People must never assume manufacturers have made IoT products as safe as possible out of the box. It is far more likely that the items will need numerous security tweaks to become sufficiently safeguarded against IoT security risks.
2. Known IoT Vulnerabilities Becoming More Common
IoT security professionals and others interested in stronger cybersecurity purposefully look for product weaknesses cybercriminals could exploit. The hope is for non-malicious parties to come across those issues first, and the affected companies can fix the problems before they become widespread.
A coordinated vulnerability disclosure happens when the people who find something wrong give the company time to fix it before telling the public about the fault. In the best cases, businesses are quick to act and release security patches to address recently found issues. However, some companies do nothing, even after security researchers repeatedly try to engage with them about what they have discovered.
IoT security risks are also becoming increasingly common. Research indicated such vulnerability disclosures rose by 57% during the first half of 2022 compared with the previous six months.
The data also showed third-party security companies accounted for 45% of those disclosures, followed by IoT device vendors mentioning 29% of them. Finally, independent research outlets found and informed about 19% of the issues.
Another interesting takeaway was vulnerabilities emerged from firmware and software almost equally. More specifically, 48% were software-related issues, while 46% were in the firmware. Speaking of firmware, the report revealed 40% of the identified vulnerabilities in that aspect got fully or partially remediated. That was a significant jump over the previous six months — only 21% fell into those categories.
Information about previously undetected vulnerabilities is an excellent way to limit IoT security risks. However, the ideal situation happens when people find problems before products arrive on the market.
3. Hackers Are Targeting IoT Devices More Often
There is not just an increase in security problems with IoT devices — a related trend shows hackers choosing to attack IoT products more often than they once did. That is probably happening for several reasons.
Firstly, with IoT products becoming more popular, hackers have more options regarding which devices they attack and how. Relatedly, attacking devices that are widespread throughout society makes it easier to get more devastating results.
There is also the fact that IoT manufacturers are working within tight timeframes, trying to get the latest, greatest products on the market before competitors develop something similar. The IoT lacks global standards for producers to follow. Thus, there is no easy way for purchasers to see how well specific IoT devices stack up against others in terms of security.
A study of the last quarter of 2022 indicated IoT malware attacks went up by 98%. There was also a 22% rise in types of malware seen for the first time. That suggests cybercriminals are getting more creative with their methods, which could pose problems for security teams trying to tighten organizations’ defenses against IoT security risks.
Sometimes, companies have so many IoT devices used by employees or within the industrial environment that they are not even sure how many connected products they have. That is problematic because it makes it harder to confirm if attacks occurred. When it takes longer to pinpoint network infiltrations, hackers have more opportunities to wreak havoc within the organization.
Hackers can also cast extensive nets when orchestrating their attacks. Consider the example of identified vulnerabilities that could affect more than 100 million IoT devices used at the consumer and enterprise levels.
IoT Security Risks Are Rampant
Most of today’s connected products have security problems to some degree. That is no reason to avoid using IoT devices, but it is a potent reminder that people must know and follow security best practices to increase protection against attacks.
Security researchers have already found and warned people about specific threats to their devices. The vulnerabilities will almost certainly rise as new devices get released, and more prominent market segments start using them. Maintaining a security-first mindset at the factory level would make those security weaknesses less likely.
However, the purchasers of IoT devices must educate themselves on the basic steps to follow. It is also great if they stay abreast of how hackers are attacking IoT devices and which products are most at risk. Even though some attacks are entirely new, others follow distinctive patterns.
IoT security flaws will always exist. However, working diligently to reduce the associated risks is a safe and practical action to take while using these products in 2023 and beyond.
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