Iot Environment Compromising Cyber Security

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It’s High Time to Explore What Iot I S Offering Cyber-Criminals, Need to Defend.

By N Subash Reddy, Cyber Security Research Fellow, Mindmajix

Digital revolution has got its roots into every sector and is spreading till date. Automation helped every possible sector in adopting new innovations in serving their customers quick and effective.  People started believing digitization will make this world a better place to live,  and hence accepted every change happened with the integration of technology. Increase in the technology has made information available on the internet and this is where researchers are challenged in securing data.

Iot and artificial intelligence today

As the number of internet users is increasing every day, the number of devices getting connected to each other got proportionally increased. This resulted in expecting 30 billion devices get connected with IoT by 2020. Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial intelligence are currently the buzzwords for every industry. IoT has improved the quality of life with its smart devices. Artificial intelligence has already proved its importance in all major business sectors like healthcare, education, automotive, agriculture, etc., to provide qualitative service. With the positive and overwhelming response to Artificial Intelligence, researches are in progress to integrate it with IoT, to make it easier in decision making for some devices (smart home appliances, self-driving cars, etc) connected in IoT.

Cybersecurity in iot

What is IoT?

Internet Of Things (IoT) is an environment that connects computer software embedded devices to get connected with each other to communicate or data exchange.

Why IoT?

IoT helps in understanding the importance of getting connected.  Can we imagine our lives without smartphones today? Great if your answer is “Yes”. But most of the people end up with the answer “No”. The same is going to happen with many other IoT devices further, as they make our life comfortable. For example, smart refrigerator as a part IoT can help you in monitoring temperatures and adjust according to climate around, thus reducing human intervention. Next level of IoT enabled devices like Air Conditioners provides access with smartphones when connected.

Limitations of IoT

With the huge network of devices connected, providing security to all the devices can difficult which enables the chance of cyber crimes. IoT not only helped many common people but also it has got features enhancing thoughts of cybercriminals in stealing the information available.

Cybersecurity – cyber attacks

Cyber Security is enabling and ensuring every device that gets connected through internet/Wi-Fi/Bluetooth or any other medium has got security features installed in defending any type of unauthorized/phishing attack in the network.  Device manufacturers are advised to focus on security. Recent reports claimed that there was 70% increase in cyber attacks in the year 2017 using IoT devices.

Cyber attacks registered came up with different strategies while working with IoT.

  • Targeting IoT Devices:

Criminals target IoT devices to executing malicious unwanted instructions. These criminal are good at computer and scientific knowledge to understand the execution of IoT devices and deploy code into them.

  • Using IoT tools:

Less secured devices in the IoT are chosen by cyber criminals to attack. IoT devices are used as tools and deploy botnets to execute Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) kind of attacks on the network. Mirai botnet is an example of such an attack.

  • Extracting Data:

Most of the devices in IoT have got some personal information stored. FitBits, smartphones, automated home appliances, etc., have records of your daily activities when all the pieces of information put together reveal the majority of the identity which is used by hackers in information theft.

Examples of cyber attacks

  • AI program installed on the server outside US has got its instructions to debit half-a-dollar from bank accounts, and customers, in general, ignore for such a small Executing the same instruction for millions of time can fill hackers account. All this happens in the network without leaving any hint to the banks and customers.
  • Using SWIFT network to steal 80 million dollars from Bangladesh bank.
  • Petya Ransomware and NotPetya
  • Email dumps prior French Presidential elections in the name of EMLEAKS. These are very few among many cyber attacks happening around the

Iot as a platform for cybercriminals

Bromium’s recent study, there was $1.5 trillion of revenue generated through  Cyber Crimes. According to this research, cybercrime became professional in its executions and is considered to be a self-sustaining system adapting the platform capitalism model. New techniques need to be invented in combating with sophisticated attacks expected by cybercriminals further.

Other key points to be considered from the research:

  • Cybercriminal platform owners make more money than their employees
  • Criminal sites found using services, ratings, customer support,
  • Services and products range from $200 to $30000 with a different hacking/attack
  • Reinvesting 20% of their revenue in business

Another report on accelerating cyber criminal revenue states that attacks like phishing, file hijacking, ad clicker, screenshot manager, DDos made by  WannaCry,  ZCryptor, Petya kind cybercrime resulted in reputational, financial and downtime loss.

Cybercrime-as-a-business will be the next big challenge to defend in the world of technology.

Ai’s role in cybersecurity

Machine learning helps in identifying intrusion or unauthorized attempts made on the network, thus making it easy in anticipating and understanding the kind of attack from the hacker. These kinds of analytics made by AI will help in defending attacks before it is too late.

Research from MIT came up with the news that an automated threat detection technique successfully predicted 85% of the cyber attacks in the year 2016. And it is also mentioned that the system can update itself with the latest data in making new techniques in defending attacks. This gives a sigh of relief in identifying threats.

“Experts came up with another theory saying AI which is used in identifying threats can also be used by hackers in making advanced attempts in breaching into the networks.”

Cybersecurity recommendations for iot

  1. Minimal Research

Make sure the device you are about to use with IoT has got enough security provided by the manufacturer.

  1. Avoid default credentials

When the device is deployed, focus on customizing credentials with proper key combinations

  1. Update Passwords

It is recommended to update/reset passwords after regular intervals or when there seems to be any suspicious activity observed.

  1. Disconnect outdated software devices

When the device is not capable of updating its software with the latest versions, it is signed for security breach and is suggested to disconnect it from the network.

  1. Avoid being online when not in use

Devices that are not in use for a long  period are to be disconnected, and even if the devices are in use, make sure you disconnect and reconnect it to ensure security.

  1. Update Firewalls and Routers security

Most of the routers used at home are always open; this has to be secured with built-in firewalls.

  1. Segment your home networks

It is recommended to segment your home networks in order to avoid access to the whole network when an intruder gets access to one of the devices connected. In general, all the devices are set up with the same password, which is not recommended.

  1. Mobile Security

Of all the devices connected to IoT,  smartphones carry lot of valuable information when compared to others. High priority is given to secure mobiles to safeguard vital information.

According to Gartner, by 2020 there will be 60% of the companies that rely on the internet will suffer from a failure of defending IT Cyber attacks.

Future of cybersecurity

Future of cybersecurity is directly associated with the advancements made in technology and how secure is information when shared on the internet. With the innovations in technology, it is recommended to educate the common audience to be aware of information and safety. Getting connected to the internet should not be the first step in losing control over the data. Shielding devices before enabling it to share information is made as important as wearing a seatbelt while driving. Artificial intelligence with IoT research has to be backed up with market leaders in order to make sure they come up with sophisticated solutions in defending similar kind of innovative hackers growing with the same proportions.

About the Author

N Subash Reddy, computer science post graduate from JNT University  – Hyderabad, India. He is currently working as a senior content strategist for Mindmajix. He is also into research about cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. His writings focus on the latest technologies, tutorials, best practices, and innovations. Prior he was web developer familiar with most of the web and UI technologies. You can connect with Subash at LinkedIN, Twitter and Facebook.