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5 IoT Security Risks & Vulnerabilities — An Expert Guide

Protect Your Business from Preventable Cybersecurity Disasters

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The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to revolutionize the way we interact with technology, connecting various devices to streamline business processes and enhance the customer experience. However, with this connectivity come the inherent cybersecurity vulnerabilities — and the need for robust security measures to protect sensitive data and prevent potential breaches

In this blog, we discuss five common mistakes to avoid when securing your IoT environment, enabling you to mitigate risks, safeguard your interconnected devices, and protect your business.

Recommended Reading: IoT Vulnerabilities for Cybersecurity

1. Neglecting to Change Default Passwords

One of the most common yet critical cybersecurity mistakes is leaving default passwords unchanged on IoT devices. Manufacturers often set default passwords that are easy to guess or publicly available. Failing to update these passwords exposes your devices to significant vulnerabilities. 

The importance of changing default passwords — and using complex, hard-to-guess ones instead — cannot be overstated.

IT Brew recently highlighted an OT/IoT security report from Nozomi Networks. They spoke with Roya Gordon, security research evangelist at Nozomi, who said, “It’s really alarming because you would think by now, everyone knows to always change default passwords…But when you think of IoT devices, it’s a little bit more difficult because those devices are more in bulk.”

“It’s really alarming because you would think by now, everyone knows to always change default passwords…But when you think of IoT devices, it’s a little bit more difficult because those devices are more in bulk.”

— Roya Gordon, security research evangelist at Nozomi

It bears repeating: Always change default passwords to unique, complex options to enhance security.

2. Lack of Regular Firmware Updates

Firmware updates are essential for addressing security vulnerabilities and improving device performance. Ignoring or postponing these updates can leave your IoT devices susceptible to exploitation. 

According to Venafi: “The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) has identified the lack of a secure update mechanism as one of IoT Top 10 vulnerabilities: ‘Lack of ability to securely update the device. This includes lack of firmware validation on devices, lack of secure delivery (un-encrypted in transit), lack of anti-rollback mechanisms, and lack of notifications of security changes due to updates.’”

"The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) has identified the lack of a secure update mechanism as one of IoT Top 10 vulnerabilities: 'Lack of ability to securely update the device.'"

Establish a regular update schedule, and apply patches promptly to ensure you equip your devices with the most up-to-date security enhancements.

3. Insufficient Network Segmentation

Failing to segment your network properly can have severe consequences. Connecting all IoT devices to the same network as your computers or servers increases your business’s attack surface, potentially compromising critical systems. 

Implement network segmentation to isolate IoT devices from sensitive assets and ensure that a breach in one area does not compromise your entire network.

Recommended Reading: Network Security: The Basics

4. Ignoring Encryption and Authentication

Data encryption and strong authentication mechanisms are vital for securing IoT communications. Without encryption, sensitive information transmitted between devices can be intercepted and exploited. Additionally, weak or absent authentication methods can allow unauthorized access to your IoT environment. 

Implement encryption protocols such as SSL/TLS, and ensure that the IoT system uses mutual authentication with digital certificates. In other words, set up your environment such that the IoT device can check that it is exchanging information with an authentic server, and the server can ensure that the device is actually what it claims to be.

Recommended Reading: The Best Multi-Factor Authentication Tool is the One Your Business Will Use

5. Overlooking Regular Security Assessments

Many organizations make the mistake of assuming that once an IoT environment is set up and secured, it remains protected indefinitely. However, the threat landscape continuously evolves, making regular security assessments essential. Conducting periodic assessments helps identify potential vulnerabilities and enables proactive mitigation measures. Regular penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and risk assessments can significantly strengthen your IoT security posture.

Recommended Reading: IoT Risks Are Growing: Is Your Business Prepared?

The Bottom Line — Understanding IoT Security Threats & Mistakes

Be Proactive

Securing your IoT environment requires a proactive approach and an understanding of potential pitfalls. By avoiding common mistakes such as neglecting default passwords, ignoring firmware updates, insufficient network segmentation, disregarding encryption and authentication, and overlooking regular security assessments, you can significantly enhance the security of your IoT ecosystem.

Stay Informed

Remember, securing IoT devices is an ongoing process. Stay informed about emerging threats, follow best practices, and update your IoT environment with the latest security measures. By doing so, you can minimize risks, protect sensitive data, and ensure a safer and more resilient IoT infrastructure.

Securing IoT devices is an ongoing process. Stay informed about emerging threats, follow best practices, and update your IoT environment with the latest security measures.

Get Started Today

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