Internet of Things: A larger attack surface

The interaction between devices is something we've known about for a long time - but what impact does it have on the average consumer? Find out here.

24-04-2023 - 5 minute read. Posted in: awareness.

Internet of Things: A larger attack surface

The principle of the Internet of Things (IoT) is good. It's a collaboration between all the different devices you have in your home. These can be computers, electrical machines and things marked as unique identifiers (UID) - machines can work together as long as they are on the same network.

IoT was discovered in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, who predicted that our devices would be able to talk to each other - without needing to be controlled by a human.

This is an incredible invention, but it also opens the door to more interfaces between your devices and the hacker.

How does IoT work?

Smart devices are made up of systems that are compatible with internet connectivity. IoT sensors collect data from the network to which the different smart devices are connected. An IoT ecosystem often consists of several different devices that send data back and forth between each other - here they can perform different actions in unity. With fast data processing, the devices can choose to ignore or act on the information they have received.

IoT devices do not require any command from a human, they just need to be connected to the same network or IP address to function. However, humans can intervene and program a device to act in a certain way.

Many large companies and organizations are using machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) in their connected devices to make their systems more efficient. They believe this helps to improve the customer experience, increase decision-making, price optimization and increase the value of the business.

The importance of IoT

IoT makes it easier and smoother to work between devices. Computers still play a major role in bridging information. IoT plays a major role in connecting smart home devices, automating processes, and providing real-time insights into systems to correct any errors.

Among other things, IoT technology can help companies automate supply chains, reduce energy consumption and wasteful products. It can further improve performance and even transparency between the company and customers.

With the emergence of cloud storage, IoT also allows big-data companies to gather even more data. They can do it easily, cheaply and automatically. The digital systems can see the interaction between "things" and perform different actions established by different sets of rules.

We are moving forward in the digital age. This also means that our lives are becoming more influenced by IoT. From machine performance to logistics operations, IoT offers invaluable insights into how to optimize machines and systems and what areas can be improved.

IoT: Some examples

Now that we've established what IoT is, it's only fitting to give some examples. It is a broad concept, as you can see here:

  • Smart home devices: There are many different smart home devices, for example, many people have Google Home or Amazon Echo, where you communicate with the digital voice of the device. Smart home devices are connected directly to the internet. For example, you can ask for a weather forecast, today's news headlines, listen to music or order a book - directly through the device.
  • Electrical items: Electrical items such as an oven, washing machine or fridge are all devices that have systems and sensors that allow them to send and receive data. These electrical items are often not connected to the internet, but as technology evolves, more appliances can now be connected to WiFi and thus becomes a smart device.
  • Smart technology: One of the very first mainstream IoT devices was the iPhone. Specifically, it was the iOS, which is controlled by apps that track consumer data and connect the user to the outside world. Today, there are many more smart devices, such as smart watches, smart speakers, smart thermometers, bluetooth devices and even smart cars.
  • Health devices: Although it may not sound like a smart device, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is an important invention. These are smart devices that are connected to the healthcare system if a patient's device send alerts. It provides real-time updates, which can ultimately save lives.

Greater risks with multiple devices

It may go without saying, but the attack surface is far greater if you have a smart home - or just more devices in your home. The more devices there are, the more opportunities hackers have.

All "things" connected to the network are potential targets for the hacker - they share data between each other, and with a lack of interaction between the devices and us, there is a greater risk that we won't notice if the devices are compromised.

Once a hacker gain access to the IoT, they will most likely also gain access to your personal data. If your IoT ecosystem of devices grows, you give the hacker a greater surface to hit.

Fortunately, there are some security measures you can take to minimize the risk of cyberattacks:

  • Always update your devices' software.
  • Make sure your devices' data is encrypted.
  • Be aware of any vulnerabilities in the systems.
  • Have passwords for the devices and the network - which should be closed networks.

The most common types of cyberattacks that happen in the context of IoT are:

  • Malware installation.
  • Phishing.
  • APTs - Advanced Persistent Threats
  • Ransomware.
  • Trojans.
  • Spyware.
  • DDoS attacks.

To prevent these attacks, you can carry out a cybersecurity audit. This is an in-depth review of the cyber landscape and systems - this ensures that they are operating correctly and that there are no gaps in the systems.

In addition, awareness training is always important in a company, as people are the weakest link in cybersecurity.

Author Caroline Preisler

Caroline Preisler

Caroline is a copywriter here at Moxso beside her education. She is doing her Master's in English and specializes in translation and the psychology of language. Both fields deal with communication between people and how to create a common understanding - these elements are incorporated into the copywriting work she does here at Moxso.

View all posts by Caroline Preisler

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