IoT has opened oceans of opportunities. We can automate just about any inanimate object and make everyday life easier. However, just as we can think of an infinite number of uses for IoT, hackers are doing the same, for all the wrong reasons.
Recently, hackers have been able to hack baby monitors, cars and scarier still, pace makers. All this can be done remotely. Present IoT devices are not adequately equipped with security features. Hence, hackers have no problem hacking into these devices.
Although an IoT device has several components which increase it's vulnerability, in this article I will cover the issue of security updates. This is because a large number of attacks occur through insecure software.
A major component of any IoT device is the software present in it. By introducing security features in the software, we can reduce a large majority of these malicious attacks.
Sophisticated security measures will take time to be developed and implemented but, there are some simple features we can implement immediately:
Ensuring periodic updates: By keeping the software updated, we can ensure that there are no vulnerabilities. Then hackers can not use the 'back door' method to hack a device.
Encryption of update file. The update file itself must be encrypted to prevent harmful tampering. Then hackers will not be able to introduce viruses within the code.
Encryption of network: The network which is used to transmit the update files must be encrypted as well. This will prevent interception of the update file, by unknown third parties, during transmission.
- Avoiding/encrypting sensitive data: Most often the data that is present in the update file contains sensitive data such as passwords,names etc. This type of data must be avoided wherever possible. If it is absolutely necessary to keep this type of information, then the data must be properly encrypted.
Verification by authorized personnel: Before releasing new software updates. It must be thoroughly verified and signed by an authorized personnel.
Securing the update server: The update server is another location that most hackers attack. The server must be secured adequately to prevent such attacks. Preferably, the data must be encrypted once in the server.
(The term hacker as used in this article refers to "black hat hackers".)