By Liam Tran, application and development engineer

Why are hackers interested in IoT devices?

You might think that small IoT devices such as gateways, smart devices, and industrial sensors are too small to be worth attacking. Kaspersky SecureList website he does not agree. Attacks on Internet of Things (IoT) assets doubled last year to more than $ 1.5 billion.

It is clear that hackers can see many useful opportunities. Without adequate protection, IoT devices are targets for data theft and IP, spying and sabotage, including undermining. Attacks also include hijacking to build botnets for distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and cryptojacking.

Every new device and network that comes online provides an opportunity for malicious groups and individuals. IoT devices may be available with little or no security and may be easy access points for hackers.

Why is the threat to IoT networks growing?

The Internet of Things is still relatively new and growing rapidly. Every day there are new related assets to attack. Therefore, the number of attacks against IoT networks is increasing.

During the pandemic, the use of smart, connected devices such as household appliances and home business equipment has increased as people spend more time at home, working or subject to social restrictions. As this interest in smart devices grows, Kaspersky notes that attacks on IoT devices have intensified. As more data is shared in this way and more IoT nodes are added, the risk increases.

Another aspect of the trend toward home work, accelerated (but not initiated) by Covid’s recent blockades, is that workers are increasingly willing to connect their own devices remotely to their corporate VPN. These links, from places outside the direct supervision of the organization’s IT department, act as potential portals for criminals.

It is also worth noting that while an organization usually has well-established security protocols within its infrastructure, expanding the scope to include employees’ homes means that this visibility is lost and security becomes more difficult to control.

How vulnerable are IoT devices to hacking?

Terminals such as gateways located remotely or distributed in a factory or smart city usually do not take advantage of the security levels in the data center. However, protection is vital and should usually be relatively light, independent of direct user interaction, or require excessive software that can increase cost, complexity, and energy consumption.

In addition, many connections between IoT endpoints and devices such as gateways are made using wireless standards such as Bluetooth® or Wi-Fi, which do not have increased security. Criminals can try to connect their own devices to a target network using these interfaces.

Network-connected IoT devices often communicate with other devices as partners, and usually through a gateway that provides a connection to a data center. It can be as small as an on-premises server or it can be a platform managed by a cloud service provider. A hacker can download an entire network if he can access an IoT gateway and restrict services.

The consequences of successful attacks for owners and operators include:

  • Compromised validity of certificates and complied with regulations
  • Restoration / repair fees
  • Client / client trusts in a stable system
  • Stay

How can IoT networks be protected?

An effective strategy is a critical basis for protecting IoT networks. The strategy must be prepared for all possible cases, including an appropriate response if hackers manage to overcome the defenses. The main goal is to prevent unauthorized access to the network. It is also important to be able to detect possible violations. Measures are needed to reduce the impact of these violations. And the cause of the violation must be eliminated by applying a correction or update as soon as possible.

Achieving these goals requires proper security network planning. This includes:

  • Provide the ability to register any connected device implemented in the business. In addition, any device connected to the network must be checked.
  • Penetration testing or surface testing to identify and locate vulnerabilities and group them at risk.
  • Constant monitoring of each IoT device for security breaches and suspicious behavior through firewalls, etc.
  • Secure communication with devices using protocols such as HTTPS and TLS
  • Use of firewalls for both wired and wireless networks.
  • Additional techniques such as intelligent power tracking can be applied.

Attacks on a device or network can sometimes cause changes in power transitions and power states. NXP i.MX 8 application processors can intelligently track and manage force transitions and states, which can help minimize attack surfaces available to bad actors.

IoT networks need to be protected all the way from end devices to the cloud. OEMs can use a third-party platform such as Azure Sphere, which combines secure, embedded hardware and software with cloud security services to provide cost-effective end-to-end protection for cost-sensitive equipment such as smart appliances. Selected i.MX 8 processors include Azure Sphere technology to provide a foundation of trust and protect security from chip to cloud.

How do cybersecurity standards protect IoT devices?

IoT-related devices are attractive targets for hackers and potentially offer many vulnerabilities that can be attacked. Standards are developed through continuous consideration of vulnerabilities and appropriate approaches to eliminate or minimize them. Standards include:

  • ISA / IEC 62443 series for industrial control systems
  • ISO / SAE 21434 for the automotive industry

These standards comprehensively cover cybersecurity, including security risk assessment, technical design, system requirements, life management, adjustments, and more. Working on standards like these can help ensure high quality security for IoT devices of all types, for use in various market sectors such as industrial automation, smart buildings, healthcare, transportation, automotive, utilities and consumer equipment such as smart appliances.

Contact us to learn how Anders can help you ensure that your next IoT device design can benefit from the best possible protection against cyber attacks.

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