Cyber-Attacks Caused by IoT

July 20, 2023

Learn about top Cyber-Attacks caused by IoT security vulnerabilities. IoT devices are an attractive target for hackers due to their vulnerability, lack of built-in security, and potential for network intrusion.

Recent research examined over 5 million connected objects in healthcare, retail, manufacturing and life sciences. The analysis revealed an astonishing array of vulnerabilities and risks across a broad range of connected devices.

1. DDoS Attacks

Cybercriminals often employ DDoS attacks to disrupt businesses and organizations. The attacks may be initiated by malware that exploits well-known vulnerabilities on connected devices, not only being costly but also damaging to a company’s or organization’s reputation.

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks occur when multiple computers or network devices attempt to overload one server with traffic. This causes availability issues and services being temporarily suspended.

In the past, DDoS attacks were typically caused by malicious websites or servers; however, today the threat landscape is evolving with the proliferation of IoT devices. Connected devices expose large attack surfaces, are vulnerable to security vulnerabilities, and don’t always receive updates for security patches or upgrades.

These vulnerabilities make them ideal prey for botnets, which are collections of infected machines used by attackers to carry out malicious activities. These malware-infected machines are then controlled by a botnet leader who performs various scams and cyber-attacks using these vulnerable machines.

According to Bitdefender’s IoT security vulnerabilities report, internet-connected printers, NAS devices and routers make up the majority of vulnerable IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Unfortunately, these items often lack patches against vulnerabilities leaving them open to various attacks such as phishing attempts, password resets and brute force attempts.

Furthermore, IoT devices lack built-in protection against malware due to lack of antivirus features comparable to desktop and laptop computers. Furthermore, they come with authentication credentials that cannot be altered or upgraded, leaving them vulnerable to infections caused by common security flaws.

Hackers can gain access to IoT devices, co-opt them for malicious purposes and launch DDoS attacks that cause significant brand damage. Furthermore, botnets have the capacity to take over entire networks and deny legitimate users access to vital systems – leading to massive financial losses for companies.

Fortunately, IT and cybersecurity professionals can take several steps to mitigate the effects of IoT botnet DDoS attacks. Effective mitigation strategies include patch management, email phishing testing and user awareness campaigns, as well as proactive network monitoring and alerting. Furthermore, organizations should be transparent about their response to DDoS attacks; this will help employees and customers comprehend what’s going on and motivate them to adjust their behavior accordingly.

2. Botnets

Internet of things (IoT) devices connected to a network are prime targets for botnets due to their vulnerabilities, including weak passwords, open access to management systems and default administrative credentials. Furthermore, these devices can also be compromised using phishing emails and trojan horses sent by malicious cybercriminals.

These bots can be utilized to launch a wide range of cyber-attacks, from email spamming and click fraud campaigns to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and data theft. Furthermore, they have the potential to undermine an online business’ or website’s infrastructure resulting in revenue loss as well as reputational harm.

Attackers have two ways to take control of a botnet: through command and control (C&C) servers or peer-to-peer (P2P) networking. C&C allows attackers to send automated commands simultaneously across all devices in the network, which may be beneficial for large DDoS attacks but more difficult to take down than P2P networks.

Therefore, it is essential to monitor your incoming and outgoing traffic for suspicious activity. This is especially crucial in order to protect against IoT botnets used for DDoS attacks. Next-gen web application firewalls such as Indusface AppTrana can detect malicious traffic and block it before it has an adverse effect on your network.

Furthermore, the rising popularity of IoT devices has created an attractive target for botnets due to their portability and low cost. Unfortunately, these devices lack security protocols and cannot be updated regularly, leaving them more susceptible to attack.

To protect your devices against botnets, it’s essential to utilize a comprehensive internet security suite with antivirus protection, anti-phishing and virus scanners, as well as malware removal tools. Additionally, keep your devices up-to-date by regularly installing software updates in order to avoid outdated threats.

IoT security threats are a serious matter for businesses around the world, as well as consumers and government agencies. Failure to address these risks could result in losses of revenues and customer trust, reputation damage, monetary fines or both.

To reduce these risks, it is essential to implement a comprehensive risk-based security solution that offers complete visibility into IoT devices and their security state. This may include an advanced web application firewall capable of detecting and blocking bad bots at their source while maintaining smooth transfer of legitimate traffic.

3. Ransomware

Cybercriminals often employ ransomware to hold data hostage until a payment is made. The risk is particularly acute for organizations that store or process sensitive information. While some businesses can reduce the financial impact of these attacks, others experience data loss and cannot operate efficiently.

The primary way to prevent ransomware is prevention. That means monitoring and logging devices for potential threats and fortifying the network to reduce exposure.

Typically, attackers are targeting devices with security flaws and unsecure default settings. This includes firmware, physical interfaces, web interfaces, and network services. Furthermore, hackers have taken advantage of protocols used in IoT systems.

For instance, sensors sending data to an IoT gateway are vulnerable to spoofing and denial-of-service attacks. Hackers could infect an IoT device with malware in order to turn it into a botnet for spreading ransomware and gaining unauthorized access to networks.

Once a device is compromised, attackers typically launch an attack that encrypts files on the victim’s computer or other connected device. Typically, they notify the victim of the breach and display a screen demanding money in exchange for a key to decrypt their data.

However, the issue with this strategy is that IoT devices lack the capacity to hold data hostage like PCs can. Most IoT data is stored on the cloud, thus there’s little incentive for cybercriminals to invest in ransomware to recover it.

Ransomware cannot effectively target IoT due to the device’s lack of user interface. While some IoT units may have screens, many do not, making it impossible for hackers to regain control over the device unless they can obtain either the owner’s email address or application that manages it.

Combatting this requires implementing an extensive IoT security strategy that includes both prevention and mitigation plans. Technical staff with expertise should set policies and implement measures to reduce the size of the attack surface, while frequent backups with verified recovery procedures should also be part of it.

4. Identity Theft

Cybercriminals often target smart devices because they hold a wealth of personal information that could be used for identity theft. They may steal your birth date, credit card details and more to create false identities for yourself and those in your family. Once they possess this data, cybercriminals have the capability to send fraudulent requests for money or apply for credit cards using your name. These types of attacks can have devastating effects on those affected by them.

Unfortunately, many IoT devices lack security and are susceptible to hackers due to a lack of protection. This includes home and office appliances, wearables, security systems, as well as other equipment that isn’t always updated with the most up-to-date security patches.

To combat these threats, ensure your IoT devices are up-to-date with security updates and patches as soon as possible. Doing this will protect them from vulnerabilities that could lead to data breaches, hacking attempts, or other serious security breaches.

Another common IoT vulnerability is weak passwords. This leaves devices open to brute force attacks that attempt thousands of passwords until one works. Furthermore, many devices using IoT rely on biometrics or verification data for user authentication; however, these systems must be made more secure.

Additionally, IoT devices can be vulnerable to data interception and physical attacks. If an attacker gains physical access to an IoT device, they have the capability of reading data and monitoring communications.

To prevent this type of attack, ensure your IoT devices have a secure update process and use encrypted communication when connecting to servers. Furthermore, verify the authenticity of software and firmware upgrades before they are installed.

As technology progresses, hackers will also adapt their methods. Already they are employing fake video, voice, and image technology to target IoT devices.

In the future, this technology could allow hackers to create doctored images and videos that circumvent security checks. They might even use AI to imitate human behavior in ways which are harder to detect.

It is crucial to protect your data from IoT vulnerabilities, so that you can reap the rewards of smart devices while avoiding becoming a victim of identity theft. This is especially pertinent if your smart-home device stores personal information or links directly to email accounts or calendars.

Ammar Fakhruddin

ABOUT AUTHOR

Ammar brings in 18 years of experience in strategic solutions and product development in Public Sector, Oil & Gas and Healthcare organizations. He loves solving complex real world business and data problems by bringing in leading-edge solutions that are cost effective, improve customer and employee experience. At Propelex he focuses on helping businesses achieve digital excellence using Smart Data & Cybersecurity solutions.


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