The Internet of Things or IoT is rapidly growing these days. Up till now, the Internet has mostly relied on people to exchange information, communicate with each other and transmit and gather data of all sizes. To make things easy, think of IoT as something similar to the web, email or a social network that involves connecting smart devices and machines and not people to get things done.
However, there is a darker side to this amazing phenomenon as well. Recently, security issues associated with IoT have become a major point of concern for people as many threats including hijacking incidents, information leaks from the device and home intrusions have emerged. These threats have compelled experts to keep in mind the security aspects of IoT as well and not only the good things about IoT.
One of the major things related to IoT is the fast-paced expansion of smart home and other automation devices that connect to the network. In modern times, devices like routers, printers, webcams, AI-based home automation hubs, thermostats and other home appliances connect to IoT. Also, smart locks, smartwatches and many other gadgets that we keep at home or even wear around are connected to the Internet.
Security implications are even higher than we think once we add the next devices that will connect to IoT. These include infotainment systems, automobile navigations, Automatic Teller Machines or ATMs, advanced medical devices and many other devices. If you are using internet services by , you can check out if they have some security features for smart devices or for other smart home devices.
Here are a few threats that you might not be aware of regarding IoT:
Sending Spam Emails Using Hijacked Devices
Smart appliances that might include a smart Family Hub refrigerator have the same level of computing power and functions that can be performed using a modern-day tablet. This means that they are most likely to get hijacked and can be turned into an email server. A recent incident investigation reported that a smart refrigerator was used to send thousands of email spam messages and the owner was not aware of the problem.
Hijacked Devices Can Be Used As Botnets
Just like the abovementioned smart refrigerator that sent emails and became an automated server, IoT devices can be programmed to become malicious botnets to conduct DDoS attacks. Recently, Hackers targeted baby monitors, printers and streaming boxes, webcams and other devices to carry out DDoS attacks. The incident reportedly crippled many domain name system servers.
Personal Information Leaks
There is a high possibility that a highly qualified hacker can cause some major damage just by sorting out an IoT device that is vulnerable to different kinds of threats. Such devices are potential hotspots for hackers, who can use information such as IP addresses for their own good. Certain malicious elements use different pieces of information including IP addresses that can be used to pinpoint residential addresses and extract other information. Keeping your IoT devices secured should always be your number one priority. You can use VPNs to secure your IoT connections as well. You can also encrypt all traffic using services by your ISP and install a VPN on your router. This will help you protect your smart home network and keep your IP private.
Vulnerable devices are one of the biggest concerns surrounding the IoT. When IoT devices land in stores, they have the default username as “admin” and the default password as “1234.” It is a good idea if you as a consumer take a proactive approach and change the default credentials using the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the router. Hackers have a keen eye on such devices and they know it very well that many users do not change the credentials of the router and they use this against them.
Home Intrusions and Invasions
This is one of the biggest and the scariest threats that home automation systems and smart devices can cause to smart homeowners. IoT bridges virtual space with the physical world. As discussed, unsecured devices can broadcast your IP address. These can be discovered using specialized search engines and hackers can exploit this vulnerability by extracting residential addresses. This information can be sold out on underground websites, criminal outfits and gangs. To make sure that your devices are not compromised, secure your device credentials and use VPNs as suggested by information security experts.
IoT security can become threatening for yourself, your family and your home. As we dive deep in the Digital Age, there will always be good things and there will ways be the bad things as well. While you can enjoy the good things, you have to be well-prepared for the dark side as well. A hacker or anybody with a nefarious intention can exploit even a single vulnerability to exploit and compromise your entire home or smart devices.