September 27, 2018
the dangers of IoT

In September 2015, the FBI released an official warning to the public about the dangers of the Internet of Things (IoT) ㄧ Have our devices become any safer since?

Always Connected

  • 62 percent of US adults own at least one connected device
  • Smart TVs are the most popular ㄧ Nearly half of American adults own one
  • Nearly all IoT devices are currently connected to the internet
  • Among connected device owners, most opt for Internet-enabled options
  • Voice-command systems: 88 percent
  • Smart home devices: 80 percent
  • Appliances: 69 percent

Some IoT devices are always on, while others connect to your smartphone, computer, or tablet throughout the day. Here are devices that connect to a smartphone, computer, or tablet, at least once a day:

  • Smart watch: 68 percent
  • Connected car: 65 percent
  • Wearable health tracker: 64 percent
  • Internet-enabled home control devices/systems: 60 percent
  • Internet-enabled appliances: 56 percent
  • Internet-enabled voice command systems: 46 percent
  • Smart TV or streaming device: 46 percent

Cyber criminals can access your IoT devices at any time ― using them to:

  • Hack into other connected devices
  • Send malicious or spam emails
  • Steal your private data
  • Compromise your physical safety
  • Stop your device from working until a ransom is paid
  • Interfere with financial transactions

With poor security defaults and difficult-to-patch firmware, IoT devices are vulnerable to attack

Vulnerable to Attack

IoT Devices are designed for convenience over security. Examples of this include

  • Universal Plug and Play Protocol (UPnP) - Used when a device connects to a network remotely. Process is automatic and doesn’t require authentication
  • Default Passwords - Devices come with preset passwords to make setup simple. Passwords are easily discoverable, compromising security.

When IoT Goes Wrong: The Mirai Botnet Attack

October 21, 2016: Hackers launched a sustained assault on Dyn, a company that controls much of the world’s DNS infrastructure. “Mirai” malware infected computers and IoT devices using default passwords. Huge portions of the internet went down, including Twitter, Netflix, Reddit, the Guardian and CNN. It was the largest distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack ever, with 100,000 malicious endpoint making it twice as powerful as any previous attack. Hacks to IoT devices are harder to detect and allow attackers to bypass more secure devices

Common Flaw: The Senrio Devil’s Ivy Attack

In 2017, internet security firm Senrio announced the discovery of a common flaw in many IoT devices, known as “Devil’s Ivy." Using this bug, Senrio designed an attack that would gain access to a secure network through a single vulnerable device. How it works:

  • Hackers access a vulnerable device, such as a security camera
  • By resetting the device to factory settings, they take full control
  • Using the IoT device, attackers hack the network router — or simply wait for someone to enter their password
  • Through the router, hackers access secure devices on the same network

A software patch was quickly issued to fix the Devil’s Ivy Bug, but it’s likely still affecting millions of devices due to the difficulty of updating the firmware on these devices

Consumers want the latest tech, but aren’t aware of the risks.

Getting More Secure

How to Keep Your Network Secure:

  • Isolate IoT devices on a dedicated, protected network
  • Disable UPnP on routers
  • Purchase IoT devices from manufacturers with a good track record for security
  • Keep security patches up-to-date ― Never purchase a device that can’t be updated
  • Set your own passwords, and make them unique to each device
  • Ensure your WiFi router has a strong password and strong encryption
  • Know your network — a single device can create a hole in your security

IoT could someday connect every device on the planet – but better security is needed before we build the “Internet of Everything.”

Future IoT: Better Security

IoT lacks an industry-wide technical standard. Over 50 separate standards are in development, with

  • Independently determined requirements, specs and guidelines
  • Unique focus on specific market niches
  • Bluetooth, ZigBee, & Z-Wave
  • Popular protocols for smart home devices
  • Lack support for internet connectivity
  • Each working toward supporting an internet connection

Apple’s HomeKit: An Answer to IoT Security?

  • Uses some of the best encryption available
  • Requires rigorous security testing


  • Other less secure access options, like Wi-Fi, weaken that security

AllSeen Alliance & Open Connectivity Foundation

  • Open-source software frameworks for the connected home
  • Use peer-to-peer communication protocols
  • Avoid the latencies and security issues of the open Internet

IoT has already connected twice as many devices as there are people alive ― are your devices secure?

This infographic was originally published on Cyber Security Degrees.

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