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Main IoT Security Issues and How to Fix Them

Internet of Things (IoT) is the focus of this year. Everyone uses technology in one way or another, and there's no doubt that billions of devices are online as you read this article. IoT is closely related to Big Data and how it exploded in the past few years. Every human being on earth will possess around 20 smart objects, which are not necessarily related to phones and tablets, but chips and wearables. Moreover, IoT smart devices are not found in people’s homes in most cases – they are used in industries such as manufacturing, business or healthcare.

Main IoT Security Issues and How to Fix Them

Besides the many benefits that IoT brings to the table, such as real-time analytics and data monitoring, there are some downsides that come with this technology. The biggest downside is that IoT raises many security issues. This article will present the most common IoT security issues and some simple fixes for them. Everyone should get familiar with IoT, as it’s already became an important part of people’s lives.

Security limitations – what devices can't be protected?

Not all the devices in IoT have huge processing capabilities, which means that the information that goes through them and out of them can’t be encrypted as easily by them as by some other tools. This leaves these devices vulnerable to cyber-attacks because security can’t be ensured. These are called constrained devices and they are more difficult to manage when it comes to encryption. The solution to this problem is creating lightweight algorithms that could still provide an encryption approach for limited devices. If that is not possible, layered cybersecurity should be applied (e.g. using firewalls).

Authenticating devices and providing authorization

The easiest way to secure an IoT device is by authentication and authorization. The problem is that many devices do not offer this feature and they can simply be accessed by whoever desires. The lucky part is that this subject is under discussion and research, as big companies started to focus more on biometrics. Biometrics should be used for all personal devices or data systems to allow a person to access the information. From facial recognition to fingerprints, biometrics will evolve fast. Yet if this is not an option, IoT platforms that include some security features by default (such as two-step authentication or enforcing strong passwords with a lot of characters and symbols) should do the job instead.

Updates are troubling

You must know that regular devices such as phones or tablets receive updates over-the-air. Well, some IoT devices don't, and that raises many questions and problems for managers. Updates contain security features that must be implemented in order to allow the device to use them further. Because some devices don’t support over-the-air updates, these security changes can never reach them, which can leave them open to cyber-attacks.

The solution is applying updates manually, by downloading them from the provider’s website and installing them on the devices. But even though this solution exists, many users don’t install updates because they don’t know how, because they don’t know the updates exist, or simply because they don’t want to. This leaves their devices open to harm. Device manager systems are trying to include an automatic push system to let people know about an existent update and give them variants on how to install them.

Cloud applications can be difficult to secure

As you may already know, IoT is mostly based on wireless and cloud technology. The approaches applied to protect these technologies from potential attacks and other threats are very complex. Just like the devices themselves, the cloud application can suffer tremendously if it is not provided with the right security. Thus, a PaaS solution with a decentralized architecture is appropriate for an IoT system used at home, while a centralized cloud-based solution is advisable in the case of large networks, such as the ones that used in industries such as healthcare, to provide patients with the information they need urgently.

On the other hand, for businesses, a SaaS solution is the way to go. With cloud-based SaaS application development tools, there is no software to maintain, which enables businesses not only to eliminate the capital expenditures but also avoid adding staff to manage security solutions. As a result, since they are using security services that are constantly improving, cybersecurity is no longer a concern for the business itself.

Data privacy is a general concern

Many IoT products have vulnerabilities. Customers know this from the offset usually, but they accept the risk that comes with using the devices. Nothing will change unless people are aware of this problem and require secure devices suppliers. Ask suppliers about how they discover and fix vulnerabilities in their Internet of Things security. If their answers do not match your expectations, do not make the purchase. In turn, providers need to take security into account when designing IoT devices and software.

IoT devices are, in fact, computers and require the same security measures as any other machine connected to the network. Protect them with firewalls to block unauthorized network connections and use special systems to block unauthorized network traffic and to send alerts whenever something seems off. If you do so, data privacy will no longer be an issue when using IoT devices.

Other details to consider

  • How open the devices are?

Open source platforms are considered safer than proprietary alternatives because they allow a faster integration of new IoT solutions for different application domains and it was found that the use of open solutions source technology accelerates the adoption of software in a bottom-up manner. At the same time, it was observed that open source solutions generate greater economic benefits for the domains in which they are applied.

There are few platforms that do not offer a REST API, which shows that current IoT services will tend to be similar to web services (Web of Things). In particular, mixing IoT and Data Analytics services will be a key orientation for integration of future IoT technologies. It is important to stay up to date with the latest upgrades and advancements in terms of IoT.

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Main IoT Security Issues and How to Fix Them