IoT Security: Privacy in the Internet of Things

15 jul 2017

written by: theodor spadeson
IoT Security

Introduction.

The IoT is a catchword of modern society. It buzzes around like a hornet, leaving an aftervoice. Let us define the term IoT and elucidate the situation.

The English of the Internet of Things is in the fact the whole world turns into a big robotic creature, where each and every single device is interrelated with millions and billions of others. Moreover, a THING in IoT can be represented not only by a device or a computer. In fact, even a person with a heart monitor implant, a vehicle with built-in sensors, or cattle with biochips can be assigned with an IP address and provided with an ability to transmit data flows over the network.

The historical evidence of IoT goes back to early 1990 when the Internet of Things as itself was born. Its concept has been in development for years, until 1999, when the technology won spurs of IoT.

Today, the IoT solutions are being integrated into diverse industrial spheres of our world, among which are agriculture, building, energy, bank services, food services, transportation, and even healthcare. For example, the connected healthcare devices allow users to get a detailed look at their health, or fetch out an issue.

A smart house is, undoubtedly, convenient for an owner and mind-blowing for his guests, while being energy efficient (cutting down the utility bills). Or, as a forecast of the integration of IoT, some day, the connected vehicles linked up to the “smart city” will create a different driving ecosystem.

Privacy and Security.

Since the two computers were connected via the network, could transmit data and interrelate with each other, the question of privacy and security came up and raised in solemnity. According to the Vormetric Data Threat Report, the protection of data is the top concern for enterprises around the globe.

Due to the fact, that the technological progress has reached the lives in all possible aspects, our lives are now “smart”. Indeed, the “smart” systems and technologies significantly simplify our routine. But there is one catch. All these benefits of “smart” life bring the risk.

Any smart system available in the market is vulnerable. However manufacturers may try to encrypt and protect the devices from foes, the hackers will always find the way to breach the system. The growing number of interrelated devices gives cybercrooks more intrusion points.

The hackers are obsessed with an idea to deal a critical damage and irreparable harm to the vital infrastructures supplying our lives. But apart from these security issues, each and every single consumer is concerned about personal privacy. We all like to poke fun at smart devices. In the end of the day, what are you really going to do with an internet enabled toothbrush? Let us guess: brush your teeth, and nothing more? For the cyber criminals, even a toothbrush will serve as an entry point to your personal data, no fun.

The main security and privacy challenges.

We have collected data and made a meticulous work on its analysis. Consequently, the below part of our review is aimed at the consideration of the biggest safety and security challenges in the Internet of Things.

Talking of Vox Populi, it has always been crucial thing foredooming the possible ways of the scenario. According to the statistics, almost 50% of all American citizens are very concerned about their personal data security, while about 28% are “slightly” concerned. The other 22% don’t care about security at all. Such “worry” plants seeds of doubt into potential customers of smart technologies and connected devices.

Americans Concern For Smart HOme Device Data Breaches

As we have already stated, that any system is vulnerable, the recent research undertaken by the Microsoft experts demonstrated, that even the branded smart home system from Samsung Electronics can be easily hacked. To be honest, the methods used by the researchers were far from sophisticated. This research depicts, that hackers are likely able to find those security holes.

Are the companies ready to deploy IoT? The AT&T report testifies, that the majority of companies all over the world are already in the process of deployment, but only a few of them feel confident about the security.

The true security is way more, than just securing the devices. Apart from the devices themselves, companies have to integrate security into the firmware, software, and network connections. The vulnerabilities of IoT or interrelated devices can be found in multiple sources, among which are the endpoint device itself, the channel of communication, or even the remote updates.

Growth in the internet of things

Amounts of data generated by IoT devices are vast. The Federal Trade Commission has made a research, which demonstrates that 10,000 smart household utensils together generate up to 200 mln. discrete data points every single day. Due to the fact, that there are about 28 bln. connected devices all over the world already, we can only imagine the amounts of data generated consequently creating intrusion points for cybercrooks. According to the forecasts of experts, 25 bln. will turn into 50+ bln. of devices in a matter of a couple of years, therefore, there will be a wealthy field of vulnerabilities out there.

IoT Risks and Solutions

The unencrypted data from a smart device can be easily intercepted. Even the most simple device and the data it stores can let the hackers to virtually invade your home and get the desired information.

Each of the security and privacy problems that consumers face while connecting their homes to the World Web weaken their desire to buy smart devices and technologies. The consumers feel falter about granting hackers an easy access to their private data.This, consequently, leads to the suspension of the IoT movement to its purpose.

An everyman would ask a considerable question: How can I and my personal data stay safe? We have made a research and defined a couple of tips, which will help you to be safe.

Principles of IoT Security
  • The first thing we suggest - Know the scams. The Internet is overfilled with the news and comments about all possible types of scams. This will serve as a helping hand for you in order to avoid the possibility of a deceit.
  • Create a guest network for your smart things and devices. This will allow you to keep the untrusted visitors away from your regular network.
  • Before you buy a new device, it is crucial to find information about the manufacturer’s security policy. In addition, research the information about the device itself. There are lots of meaningful reviews from users.
  • Update your IoT utensils. Keeping your smart devices’ software up to date will come in really handy. Manufacturers try their best to unveil the possible breach points. Every patch of the software released comes with the improved security system. This will help to fix the bugs and enhance the security level for a certain period of time.
  • Always change the default passwords on the connected devices. Create a strong and complex password. To be honest, the password will be a weak threat for cyber criminals, but at least, the password hack will take more time.
  • Two-step authentication will also come in handy. This trick will help to boost your security way further. The two-step authentication provides the impossibility of logging in to your connected devices without inputting a temporary code sent via an email or SMS.
  • Prioritize the devices working without the cloud service. The reason for giving this tip is simple: cloud supporting devices are extremely vulnerable. Essentially, smart “things”, requiring a cloud service are less secure.
  • It is not necessary to connect every smart device to the network. You can control and manage your appliances without a necessity of the connection with the outside network. Colloquially saying, except the needless internet connections, when it is possible.
  • And the last tip. In order to reduce risks of revealing your personal data, do not take your IoT utensils to the working place. The reason for this tip is here: your insecure IoT devices can be used as intrusion points for hackers. This will let them invade the company.

Conclusion.

A dozen years ago, we would have poked fun at a person, who stated, that a mobile phone can be used to steal credentials. Welcome to the world, where nobody makes fun of this anymore. Each futuristic trick shown in Bondiana is real today.

It is an evident thing, that IoT is approaching the moment, where it fuses with almost every part and aspect of our lives. The question of security and safety becomes very important in the world, where an every “thing” is connected. Internet of Things is still neither perfect nor secure. The increase in the number of new interrelated devices, hardware endpoints, and miles of code, creates a vast set of challenges.

It is obvious, that manufacturers can not apply a lot of security lessons to IoT, at least not quickly enough, not over the next couple of years.

Will the humanity be able to adopt this blown (but not perfect yet) technology capable of changing the whole world, or not - the question seems unclear. Let us hope it will.