Nowadays, we produce, collect, store, analyze, and share more information than any generation did before. With smart city technologies, people have revolutionized daily life and probably, every person you know has at least two devices connected to the cloud. Smart city networks became tremendously popular and not it is the Internet of Things that is the newest technological breakthrough.
There are numerous smart city examples in education, healthcare, engineering, and other fields that benefited from IoT technologies. Every smart city project is called to help users facilitate and proceed data, so there is no wonder that more and more devices are being connected to the web.
It obviously causes more and more cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities behind the smart IoT devices. Although IoT software development has made significant steps towards the cybersecurity of devices connected to the Internet, there are still important security challenges that everyone should keep in mind.
Top 7 IoT Security Challenges
Here is a list of the most possible security issues that can happen with IoT devices. By being aware of potential security causes of the issues and the way to avoid them, we can protect our devices and data privacy.So, here we are:
1. Data Privacy
A data privacy concern is one of the biggest issues when it comes to the Internet of Things. We store and share a lot of private information with our devices, and the more devices are connected to the Internet, the more units need complex protection including devices, applications used on them, and the network itself.
Special attention should be put to the sources we back up our IoT data at. It is important to use strong passwords and enable two-step authentication to avoid any possible information theft.
2. Data Encryption
In the digital world, all the data you send or retrieve should be encoded. If the data is transmitted by non-encrypted means, it can result is a big security issue. The security of the network is as much important as the protection of the connected devices because IoT is usually based on wireless networks and different portable devices.
For example, if you store your credit card details in your smartphone, you want to feel safe about all information saved on your device. Fortunately, there are ways to protect smart devices and data from stealing and safeguard yourself. It is essential to use a Secure Sockets Layer Protocol (SSL) anytime you visit open web sources or manage your data online. Though most of the websites provide SSL certificates for data encryption, it is important to pay attention if the protocol is available. Also, it is necessary to use the wireless protocol with inbuild encrypting technology at any wireless data transmission, because your data should be encrypted to be protected. In the case of web applications, use firewalls and make sure that the sensitive data available for specified users only.
3. Technical Vulnerabilities
As IoT involve different devices to be connected in a network with Internet access, some technical challenges can arise if the devices are not protected properly. In case a user doesn’t set authentication mechanisms to ensure own privacy, these technical challenges may become issuer. Even if data was encrypted, a slightly protected or non-protected device can be hacked and then, cybercriminals will get access to all private information. To avoid technical security problems, it is essential to establish a secure session key, multiple authentications, check certificates of IoT devices before buying them, and preferably use customer anonymity visiting open sources.
4. Hardware Issues
Although most of the leading development companies are working on the security amendments to the produced devices, the Internet of Things requires constant and costly updates. Smart devices can be vulnerable to cyber attacks if there were any hardware issues not fixed by manufacturers. Companies aim to produce safe and secured hardware and use cost-saving solutions at the same time, thus, it is important to check not only information provided by manufacturer but also user feedbacks and test everything by yourself.
It is worth noting that all IoT devices undergo testing before manufacturing and being launched to the public, which covers a lot of security challenges. But with the time cyberattack technologies evolve as well, and by the time you hold a smart device, any possible unfixed hardware issues can result in major security problems. To make sure that your smart device is secure enough, you need to check all certificates, scalability, reconfigurability, and memory capability of the IoT device.
5. Renewable Energy Weaknesses
Nowadays, many individuals and companies are interested in how to switch to renewable energy, and if you think renewable energy and the Internet of Things do not relate to each other, let us remind you that renewable energy collection and storage are usually controlled remotely by smart devices. If talking about IoT & renewable energy predictions, producers tend to invest in information security to achieve a protected environment and avoid any damage to electronic sources and any loss of commercial data. A secure environment of the renewable energy sources includes physical security, hardware and software protection, secure Internet connectivity, and remote management.
Knowing about the vulnerability of renewable energy sources, companies should pay more attention to environmental assessment and asset updates, provide proper access management, and use predictive tools to avoid any possible cyber attack. A comprehensive assessment of the current cybersecurity situation and up-to-date security system will help companies to maintain the security level and protect all sensitive systems and data needed. Moreover, there are predictive tools based on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning that can respond robustly to any actions of cybercriminals.
6. Complexity of Systems
As we already said, the more devices, applications, interactions, users are in the network, the more complex the system becomes and the more complex protection it requires. It happens because of the increasing number of risks that appear with every new connected unit. The network system becomes more complex and diverse, and so do the cybersecurity challenges that should be detected and fixed. Therefore, more security managing points occur that should be covered with cyber protection technologies.
7. Human Factor
The last, but not the least – one of the most popular IoT security challenges is the human factor, negligence, and overconfidence. As the Internet of Things is a relatively new concept, many individual users and companies still lack information about the risk accompanied by the benefits of using this smart network. This problem relates to all IoT units regardless of their use, volume, complexity, etc. Therefore, it is essential to stay informed about the latest trends and challenges of the Internet of Things.
General Tips on How to Secure IoT Devices
Summing up the aspects mentioned above, we can make these helpful recommendations on how to protect IoT devices:
- buy the devices that have all verified certification and security assurance. Cheap units usually do not have the necessary protection and can be hacked easily;
- make strong research about characteristics and vulnerability of the device you are going to buy. Be prepared and choose wisely;
- make sure to mark your data visible to you only by setting private locks, two-steps authentification, and strong passwords;
- if you have a smart home, do not use the same password for all devices, units, and network;
- always use a network with secure SSL and HTTPS certificates to protect your web data successfully;
- if you use open source data, check the information anyway because open sources can be used any person as well;
- pay special attention to your smartphone device as there are the most personal data stored usually. Make sure to note a service number in case you lose your mobile phone to protect your personal information right away.
Of course, IoT development will continue evolving and there always will be pros and cons of using IoT devices. But with a conscious and accurate attitude towards the Internet of Things, we can only benefit from using the network of smart devices.