Increased Cyber Risks In An Internet Of Things (IoT) World

Introduction

Ever since the internet has become second nature, businesses, relationships, and human interactions have changed remarkably. In fact, many people, including me, cannot imagine a world devoid of the internet, search engines, and social media platforms.

The digital ecosystem has proved itself in terms of bettering several aspects of humanity. From better access to relevant information to establishing newer models of communication, the internet has made its presence felt.

Internet of Things or IoT as it is famously referred to has added a new dimension to technologies and digital platforms. As the adoption and integration of smart and connected technologies are on the rise, newer challenges are emerging.

Internet of Things (IoT): Meaning and Definition

There are a number of tech devices that we use in our everyday lives. Barring computers, smartphones, and servers, sensors helping in smart tech are seeing a rise in other physical devices or hardware like-

  • Home accessories
  • Cars and automobiles
  • Voice-Assistants
  • Security Systems

In simple words, these physical devices do not need human engagement and involvement to relay data and information to a third-party. For example, connected tech in cars can automatically communicate to the manufacturer about problems that your car is facing. They can then give you a call and ask you to come for repairs or maintenance.

The same goes for smart voice assistants and speakers that collect and tabulate data. Security solutions also work in the same fashion. There are two critical components that every IoT device has-

  1. Sensors-

This helps them collect data and information from their surroundings as well as those details that are requested by the human. Sensors are like mini-brains of these physical devices that allow them to function.

  1. Network Communication-

Internet connectivity is required to relay the data and information to the relevant stakeholders. For this, most smart devices use Wi-Fi or come embedded with SIM cards (car infotainment).

Increasing Cybersecurity Risks associated with IoT in 2021

Experts are of the opinion that the more touchpoints we open where there is data movement taking place, the higher is the increase in vulnerability levels.

Think of it in these terms- you use your laptop to make payments, send emails, do office work, and so on. Your laptop is protected by anti-virus solutions, firewalls, and secure internet connectivity. But what about your car, or your voice assistant?

As they too collect data and information, which can be important, what is being done to ensure their security? These are the vulnerable points that are targeted by cybercriminals to collect important information or plant malware, ransomware for financial and other gains.

There is a gradual rise in IoT devices in our everyday lives. According to studies, by 2025, the world will have more than 20 Billion Smart Devices. These devices might be in banks, government offices, election campaigns, and normal households.

Every one of the locations if manipulated can cause immense losses in all aspects!

What can be done to Improve Cybersecurity Infrastructure in an IoT World?

According to experts, users and stakeholders should take the necessary steps to guard their vulnerabilities against cybercriminals.

  • Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)-

Using Public Key Infrastructure or PKI and its Digital Certificates is a great way to add an additional level of security. PKI involves strong cryptographic-based security that integrates public and private encryption keys. This helps in fixing accountability, limiting access, and ensures that hackers and other criminals do not gain access to your internal and external communications.

  • Strong Passwords-

Homeowners should ensure that they are using strong passwords and changing them as often as possible. According to the NIST guidelines, generic passwords should be avoided at all costs. Rather passphrases should be used that should take into account the best practices. These include using upper- and lower-case alphabets, numerical and special characters. Remember, the stronger the password, the lesser is the chance for it to be breached.

  • Secure Networks and Connectivity-

If your smart device is connected to the internet, which it will be, it is important that you always use a secure network. Avoiding public networks and Wi-Fi is critically important on your smartphone and laptops, especially if you do financial transactions, banking, and official work on it. It is important that individuals should find out about the data regulations of the companies that manufacture smart products and IoT technologies.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the next decade is going to be identified as the decade of IoT. However, it is important that you do not let your guard down in the face of increasing risks and vulnerabilities from cybercriminals and attacks.