Tech world has been discussing about Internet of Things, security aspects and challenges for the past few years. What is IoT security, what are the security challenges of Internet in Things and its importance?
What is IoT security?
Internet of Things security is often referred to as protecting billions of devices and networks from unauthorized access and attacks from outside or within the IoT network. IoT security safeguards personal data, different platforms, networks, technologies and hardware used for IoT applications.
What are the Challenges in IoT security?
Billions of connected devices
According to the predictions, the number of IoT devices has been growing and the trend shows exponential growth in coming years. More devices lead to more challenges in terms of security and vulnerability.
IoT is an emerging technology with endless opportunities for tech companies, investors, device manufacturers, and security services. Since there is a huge demand for millions of devices in the market, many startup companies will try their chance to secure their position in highly competitive market.
In order to come up with faster solutions to win certain areas, tech companies have to work faster and produce their end product in limited time frame. Due to tighter schedule, proper testing of product for vulnerabilities could be limited up to primary level and some testing stages might be skipped.
As a device manufacturer, the focus would be on product launch and secure at least tiny portion of the market share for their product or services. Since there are thousands of manufacturers working on multiple technology standards, it is hard to control under one monitoring authority.
Incompatible Operating Systems and platforms
Internet of Things is a vast technology supports multiple wireless standards and areas of operations. Technology giants like IBM, Google, Apple and Samsung have launched their own IoT platforms to develop, configure and connect millions of devices and sensors to the IoT network.
Incompatibility of operating system is one of the major security challenges in IoT. Only few operating system offers interoperability with other systems. Security aspects have to be considered during design of product, configuration and connectivity for secure information exchange.
IoT device must have high level of security which functions properly from safe booting of devices, user authentication, access control, safer firewalls and secure device updates. Recommended update of software or OS will protect devices and sensors from attacks most of the time.
Any transmitting devices which contain information are vulnerable from unauthorized access and DDoS attacks. Hardware development stages of IoT device are significant to protect personal information from hackers.
Higher security requires high level processors and processing power. It will be costly, IoT requires cheaper solutions with efficient power consumptions and better security. IoT devices have limitation for higher level microprocessors due to power, size and cost.
Standardization of IoT devices are challenging since it is a broad area with different transmission technologies and network protocols. Personal information could be collected and given to interested third parties without user awareness. Low cost wearable devices are often considered unsafe due to insufficient security measures to secure personal information and user behaviors.
Since IoT is a competitive market, many companies will join the battle to sell their product and sustain in the business line. Cheaper solutions may lead to vulnerability and hard to close the security gap especially for non-standardized products and services.
Wireless technologies used in IoT network
Wireless networks are inevitable for IoT implementations. Information collected from devices and smart sensors are being transmitted via wireless networks. Safety of these wireless networks determines the safety of the IoT system.
Since new technologies and standards evolve in wireless communication, the security challenges are also increases. Complex encryption techniques are used to protect personal information from hackers and unauthorized access.
Wi-Fi technology uses IEEE 802.11i encryption protocol commonly known as WPA-2 personal and WPA-2 enterprise. WPA-2 personal encryption offers a secure communication by using a shared key before establishing connection between the devices. WPA-2 enterprise uses IEEE 802.11 protocol to authenticate using authentication server before any transmission begins.
Wireless LAN uses 2.4 GHz channel for transmission which is prone to interference from other network and devices operating at 2.4 GHz band. Wrong configuration of wireless networks and weak encryption techniques like WEP, WPA are unsafe from unauthorized accessing. Higher interference might cause denial of services DoS and transmission failure.
Importance of IoT security
Any system uses personal information about individuals, locations tracking, life style and behavior tracking must be handled in a secure and safe way. Personal information is valuable for corporate companies to make their business model or sell to interested companies or organizations.
Individuals have the rights to keep their information safe and protected from unauthorized usage. Despite the fact that more complex system leads to more security issues, modern encryption technologies and network protocol ensures a secure system.
Some RFID tags and other near field communication devices contains personal information, credit card details and location information etc… Misuse of the confidential information could cause serious damage to companies and individuals.
Devices capable of cashless money transaction is always prone to attacks. Careful configuration of system, proper encryption and password protection are necessary to protect valuable data.
Periodic updates of the software / firmware will usually close the security gap and protect devices from unauthorized access. Network has to be monitored continuously for any unusual behavior in traffic between devices, delay and data rate fluctuations.
Standardization of IoT technology will offer much safer system, but it is far from reality today. Government organizations and monitoring authorities make sure information regarding individuals is safe and not misused by any external parties. Selection of safe system and services are responsibility of individuals to enjoy latest technology advancements and safeguard valuable personal information.