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IoT Security: How to safeguard IoT devices against cyberattacks

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By Deepak Syal, Director and Co-founder, GreyB

Deepak Syal, Director and Co-founder, GreyB

Every good thing has a side effect to it and while Internet of Things (IoT) technology is the next big thing of the era, safeguarding it is the next big worry. 

Back in 2014, a study conducted by the HP labs concluded that about 70 percent of the devices had at least one major vulnerability. This clearly reflects that the security aspect is put on a back burner when it comes to the market launch of these IoT devices. And even though the technology has come a long way since then, security remains one of its major concerns.

Can you imagine what could happen if an IoT device, say your smart home assistant, is hacked into? It may give away your WiFi credentials to the hacker from which they can then attack other more critical devices on the connected network. 

The standard router relied upon in homes and by thousands of small businesses is the most frequently attacked IoT device. Internet routers are your gateway to the outside world, but when it becomes a two way street you become vulnerable to cyber attacks and security breaches resulting in losing your personal data like bank details, social security number, addresses, documents, etc. to the hacker. 

But that’s only a part of it. 

According to the World Economic Forum, “Hacking the location data on a car is merely an invasion of privacy, whereas hacking the control system of a car can become a threat to life.”

Similarly, your hijacked personal info, among many other threats, can be used for tax fraud.

Stakes are especially high for industrial IoT systems. In everything from national power grid systems to global manufacturing operations, connected IoT sensors and devices pose significant operational risks.

Nevertheless, consumers are moving towards IoT technology day by day thus demanding new strategies for cyber protection. As a result the end-to-end security capabilities like privacy protection, authorization, encryption, user interface protection, and code security have become more important than ever. 

Device manufacturers are increasingly making their customers conscious about securing their IoT devices by using strong passwords that are frequently changed, creating guest networks to prevent hackers from gaining access to the connection, and updating their IoT devices with new security features. 

As for industrial IoT systems, companies should always evaluate, select, and install IoT devices, keeping cybersecurity a top priority. Additionally, installing cybersecurity software and firmware can help them prevent unauthorised access to data, devices, and software by implementing security options such as encryption.

However, there’s also a need for device manufacturers to take action on their part. So how can device manufacturers make IoT more secure?

This is where blockchain technology comes into the picture, forming the basis for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and securing network devices. Blockchain has the biggest advantage of keeping the connection between devices anonymous. Without a third-party implementation, the transaction is validated, which in return reduces the chances of data leaking and IoT network hacking.

Intel Corp. filed a patent, US11290324B2, that helps to secure communications transactions in an IoT network using blockchain roots-of-trust by distributing the security functions. 

The amount of innovation we are seeing in the IoT security space is unprecedented. As the Indian government is inviting global consumer electronics companies to set up their manufacturing in India, we are going to see a lot of domestic innovation in this space.  

This does not stop here. If we talk about the use of IoT in vehicles, with the use of blockchain, the data will be connected using cryptographic hashes and timestamps, hence keeping data leaks and hacking at bay.

It is true that IoT security is complex, but experts in the field know which practices are efficient for assessing and mitigating risks. With blockchain’s capabilities such as transparency, immutability, data encryption, and operational resilience, its integration with IoT seems to promise a smarter future. Eventually, businesses will overcome this challenge and refocus on the primary goals of IoT, optimising processes, improving quality of service, lowering costs, and bringing customer satisfaction. 

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