The IoT Attack Surface Threats and Security Solutions goodbrocc, center-pincom
The internet of things (IoT) is easily one of the most versatile technologies in existence today. The ubiquity of the internet, the growing capacity of network connection, and the diversity of connected devices make the IoT scalable and adaptable. Food production , manufacturing , finance, healthcare , and energy are just a few of the industries that the IoT has revolutionized — specifically through its extension, the industrial internet of things (IIoT) . At the same time, it has also led to the realization of smart homes , buildings , and even cities .
However, the growing reality of the IoT also means recognizing its possible consequences. In an enterprise setting , for example, the IoT is often seen in the office automation (OA) and operational technology (OT) areas. This translates to multiple IoT and IIoT devices deployed within an organization. Such a setup increases the possibility of threats in spaces that had never posed cybersecurity risks before. IoT devices in these common spaces can have an effect on critical systems, like the intranet and database servers, through the IoT systems’ data collection and monitoring capabilities. As a result, even threats that involve seemingly innocuous IoT devices such as smart toilets and smart coffee machines can have a great impact depending on the environment they are set up in.
Part of adopting the IoT, therefore, is anticipating what else the technology brings to the environments it is being applied to — not least of which are security concerns that can give rise to successful attacks on IoT systems and devices.
Threats to IoT systems and devices translate to bigger security risks because of certain characteristics that the underlying technology possesses. These characteristics make IoT environments functional and efficient, but they are likely to be abused by threat actors.
These characteristics include:
As part of its Internet of Things Project, the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) has published a detailed draft list of IoT attack surface areas, or areas in IoT systems and applications where threats and vulnerabilities may exist. Below is a summarization of the IoT attack surface areas:
As can be inferred from the aforementioned IoT attack surface areas, all of the major components of IoT systems can be exploited. Security should therefore be a priority in building and maintaining IoT systems. Regardless of the scale or the type of environment an IoT system is built into, security should be considered from the design phase to better integrate it in every aspect of the system — it should not be a mere accessory. In this way, the IoT system, from its individual devices to its overall configuration, can be tailored to be both functional and secure.
Here are some other security guidelines to consider:
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The upheavals of 2020 challenged the limits of organizations and users, and provided openings for malicious actors. A robust cybersecurity posture can help equip enterprises and individuals amid a continuously changing threat landscape. View the 2020 Annual Cybersecurity Report