IoT devices in businesses

Updated: Oct 15, 2021

Here, NEBRC ethical hacker Kishan Patel, currently a 3rd year student studying Cyber Security with Forensics at Sheffield Hallam University, looks at the risks associated with the Internet of Things and how best to defend your business as a result.


We live in an era where IoT devices connected to a business’s network are a norm. IoT devices such as smartphones, laptops, smartwatches etc are the most common IoT devices within an enterprise environment. Indeed, this opens up a plethora of opportunities for the company, as it may improve employee satisfaction and other areas that can lead to a successful enterprise. However, this situation also brings challenges, as new attack vectors are open for hackers to exploit.


The following are some common IoT risks and mitigation:


Man in the Middle Attack

This threat involves the attacker placing themselves between the client and a host. As the name suggests the attacker intercepts data which passes between a client and host, intercepting a business’s sensitive data.

Mitigation Method

One way of mitigating a Man in the Middle attack is through the use of robust encryption between the host and the client. Implementation of a strong encryption methods such as AES-256 (uses key length of 256 bits) will mean that the host/server will authenticate any client request’s ensuring that any connection is genuine, and only established if the certificate is deemed valid. Therefore, it is crucial for business to use the latest encryption methods, rather than relying on outdated alternatives, which lend themselves to being exploited by man in the middle attacks


Botnets

Botnets are networks made up of a large number of compromised devices that attackers may use to spread their malware. These botnets are mainly used in Denial-of-Service attack (DDoS). This is a type of attack which focuses on delivering a flood of requests to the business's network server from the infected botnet devices. This results in the target crashing due to the swamp of network requests and the inability for the server to handle the sheer volume of requests, taking the server or service down for legitimate users.


Mitigation Method

Two-fold

1) You need to ensure that your IoT devices are not being used or hijacked to become part of a botnet. You can do this by making sure that the latest security patches are installed as soon as they are released and changing the default passwords which come preinstalled with the device.

2) You can protect your website or infrastructure from DDoS attacks, by purchasing technology which detects DDoS attacks and responds by dropping the traffic or increasing bandwidth. Also, some web hosts now provide a level of DDoS protection, if you are worried about such attacks its worth having a conversation with your provider to understand what they do, or don’t do, and if you have gaps, then like any risk you can decide to put mitigations in place to reduce the risk to an acceptable level.


For further information on cyber security for your business speak to a member of the NEBRC at: enquires@nebrcentre.co.uk