The IoT is practically everywhere today. As a result, businesses need to be aware of the different types of IoT cyber security threats in order to protect devices themselves as well as the data being collected.
Just imagine the business-critical applications that the IoT supports and the growing importance it has on day-to-day business. Prevalent in manufacturing, smart cities and oil and gas industries, the IoT enables companies and organizations to improve everything from customer service to productivity to operations.
Meanwhile, hackers are developing new ways to break into your IoT devices. In fact, the number of attacks is increasing at an alarming rate. SonicWALL reported that “IoT malware attacks jumped 215.7% to 32.7 million in 2018 (up from 10.3 million in 2017). The first two quarters of 2019 have already outpaced the first two quarters of 2019 by 55%.”
Combine the growing rate of attacks with the growing number of devices and you can understand why device managers are more concerned than ever before. Because IoT devices typically don’t include traditional security controls nor are they designed to scan for anomalies, the risks for a cyber attack are real.
Before you implement IoT devices at your company, let’s dive into some of the types of cyber security attacks you need to be aware of before you get started.
10 Types of IoT Cyber Security Attacks
- Physical Attacks
Physical attacks occur when IoT devices can be physically accessed by anyone. With the majority of cybersecurity attacks occurring from the inside of a company, it’s essential that your IoT devices are in a protected area, which is often not an option. Many physical cybersecurity attacks begin with the assailant inserting a USB drive to spread malicious code, which is why it’s more important than ever to add AI-based security measures to ensure your devices and data are protected.
2. Encryption Attacks
When an IoT device is unencrypted, the intruder can sniff the data and capture it for use at a later time. In addition, “once encryption keys are unlocked, cyber-assailants can install their own algorithms and take control of your system.” For these reasons, encryption is a must-have in the IoT environment as part of your cyber security efforts.
3. DoS (Denial of Service)
A DoS attack occurs when a service, such as a website, becomes unavailable. A large number of systems attack one target through a botnet, which forces many devices to request a service at the same time. While attackers, in this case, aren’t typically aiming to capture data, they are seriously impacting a business if services become unavailable.
4. Firmware Hijacking
If you’re not keeping up with your IoT firmware updates, you are at risk for a cyber security attack. Be sure to check that your updates are from the expected source, otherwise, an attacker may hijack the device and download malicious software. Something else to keep in mind is that most hardware makers don’t cryptographically sign embedded firmware.
Consider the botnet attack, Mirai, which turned networked IoT devices into remotely controlled bots, which can be used as part of a botnet. Botnets have the capability to use smart, connected devices to transfer private, sensitive corporate data, which may be sold on the dark web, or to disable a device. Mirai continues to be a problem today with millions of IoT devices affected.
A man-in-the-middle attack occurs when a hacker breaches communications between two separate systems. By secretly intercepting communications between two parties, this type of attack tricks the recipient into thinking they are receiving a legitimate message. In other words, the man in the middle begins communicating with both parties, hence the name. It might look like an email from your bank, requesting that you log in to perform a task. Now, the attackers’ fake website gathers your credentials, so the attacker can inflict further damage.
Ransomware is a type of malware that locks down access to files by encrypting them. Then, the attackers sell you the decryption key so that your files can be accessed again. Naturally, this type of attack can disrupt day-to-day business and the encryption key often comes at a hefty price. Imagine if hackers were able to access a power grid and refused to give the keys back for days. Cue the blackout.
In this type of attack, a hacker intercepts network traffic in order to steal sensitive information via a weakened connection between an IoT device and a server. Eavesdropping is typically done by listening to digital or analog voice communication or via the interception of sniffed data. Again, in this case, the attacker walks away with sensitive, corporate data.
9. Privilege Escalation
Hackers look for IoT device bugs and weaknesses in order to gain access to resources that are typically protected by an application or user profile. In this type of attack, the hacker seeks to use their newly gained privileges to deploy malware or steal confidential data.
10. Brute Force Password Attack
In this scenario, hackers submit many passwords or passphrases with the hope of guessing the correct one, providing them access to your IoT devices. Or, they use software to generate a large number of consecutive guesses. Now that the attacker has access to your device, they can install malware or steal business-critical data.
Whether you’re just getting started with the IoT or you’ve already implemented devices, it’s important to regularly perform a cyber security audit to determine whether you need to take additional steps to protect your devices. Always be vigilant about your cyber security in order to stay one step ahead of hackers.