The Vast Cybersecurity Threat to the Internet of Things

Written by: Francesco Trama | Published on: February 16th, 2016

About The Author

Francesco Trama
As Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Francesco is responsible for the overall operating performance, leading the strategic direction of the company’s products and solutions internally while building technical and business credibility externally as a market-facing thought leader.

37308199_s.jpgThe Internet of Things (IoT) is a term for physical objects that are connected to a network and can communicate or be controlled using computers, mobile devices, etc. Televisions, cars, and air conditioners are among the many appliances that can be controlled by a smartphone. There are even WiFi-enabled connectors available, to allow you to talk to and control objects that aren’t specifically designed to have an Internet connection. IoT has exploded over the last few years, and it’s poised to be the way of the future. In fact, it is projected to represent the largest technology growth in human history, with the market size expected to grow from $1.9 trillion in 2013 to $7.1 trillion in 2020. It’s an incredible opportunity in global enterprises. On the other hand, IoT presents a lucrative and accessible target for cybercriminals.


The Unexpected Vulnerabilities of iOT

Since the Internet of Things has exploded so quickly, and the general populace is still getting used to it, security isn’t updated as often as it should be. In fact, the average consumer or business user is not even aware that regular updates need to be installed. While users are likely to install the latest firewall updates to their computer at regular intervals, they are less likely to do the same for their refrigerator. However, any IoT appliance including an IP address is vulnerable to attacks. That means your TV, garage door opener, and heating and cooling system – whatever you control from your smartphone – is subject to attack.

The rise of IoT is not exclusive to the home. IoT is also particularly prevalent in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. X-Rays and other monitoring systems are often connected to an internal network, in order to share scans and test results more quickly and easily. It’s incredibly helpful, and can even save lives—but it’s also easy to forget that each of those devices has an operating system that must be regularly updated, and security vulnerabilities that must be regularly patched.

In fact, almost every place of business today is utilizing the Internet of Things to some extent, from banks to water treatment and nuclear power plants, to emergency services. Now, imagine what happens when these types of organizations are left vulnerable and open to attack. Malware can be introduced into the network through a device with out-of-date security. That malware could then be used to infect the entire network, accessing all sorts of private data, financial information, and much more.

The infection hides in these IoT devices until it spreads laterally through the system undetected. When the attacker is ready to strike, he has easy access into the network.

IIf an organization has security cameras connected to their network, then the attacker can even look at their physical facilities and see the day-to-day goings-on, without anyone realizing it. They gather up as much information as they can from your network and sell it to anyone with enough money.

How a NextGen Geo-IP Layer Can Help Prevent IoT Attacks

It’s important to keep all of your devices, from computers and tablets to IoT devices, up to date in terms of security and other software. However, even if you do, those devices can still be vulnerable to attack. The best solution is for you to have a NextGen Geo-IP layer on top of your regular security, to filter out threats before they reach your firewall.

Once the Trojan that’s infiltrated your software is activated, it can make hundreds, even thousands of calls, to locations all over the globe, in a matter of hours. Your Geo-IP layer can identify a spike like that; allowing you to block the countries receiving those calls and filter out all of the requests to and from malicious IPs. Ideally, it will help you prevent those calls from being made, but at the very least, it can isolate the problem, by triggering an alert as soon as it’s detected, so that you can deal with it before it harms your network.

As our world becomes increasingly more connected to the Internet, more and more “things” around us will communicate with a the network. This increase in connectivity demands a larger focus on security. A Next-Gen Geo-IP layer will help you keep your network protected.

Have you considered the vulnerabilities brought about by IoT? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.