When we introduced the concept of IoT security in this blog post, we covered some simple guidelines to help you prevent securty breaches and minimize the damage caused by attacks on IoT devices. In this article, we'll focus more on defining the potential security risks in regards to IoT.
To understand the risks in IoT infrastructure — of which there are many — you must first understand the core elements that drive such problems. By nature, open and connected devices are vulnerable in a multitude of ways. But it's not just the devices themselves that are a target of attack, the data they collect, process, and transmit is also a major concern.
Even something as simple as a fitness tracker that records your physical movements and converts it into usable health data could be leveraged against you. A thief could gain access to that data and use it to build a profile of your movements and daily habits.
This applies to businesses and enterprises too, where IoT is also currently being deployed in new, innovative ways every day. Imagine a factory outfitted with smart sensors and operational devices that is suddenly compromised and held for ransom. That business stands to lose a lot of money because of the downtime, but also because of the costs related to dealing with such an attack. Not to mention any sensitive data or trade secrets lifted during the breach.
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Types of IoT Attacks
Typically, attacks are defined by the layer of the IoT infrastructure targeted, but can be generalized into the following categories as IoT infrastructure isn't standardized.
- Physical - tend to target the sensor layer and require close proximity to the device.
- Network - usually the most common, can be used to extract large amounts of data remotely.
- Encrypted - devices don't always feature encryption which makes them vulnerable to this type of attack.
- Software - the biggest risk as the potential to acccess the entire software system is high. Attackers might use phishing, malware, viruses, and scripts among others.