Emerging Security Challenges For The IoT

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The rise of the Internet of Things is one of the fastest-growing digital markets and is anticipated to top $500 billion by the end of 2021. Consumers are excited by the idea of prefixing the word “smart” to everything from TVs to toasters, and businesses are innovating fast on this new frontier.


However, connecting devices that have traditionally been isolated units brings a whole host of security challenges that will need to be assessed. If ignored, these security issues will leave devices wide open to hackers and data unsecured. Let’s explore these security challenges, with an eye to preventing breaches and creating a secure IoT.

The Proliferation Of Devices

Before the IoT developers only had to worry about securing computers and mobile devices. Now, increased connectivity means a proliferation of connected devices as each consumer fills their home with such items. Currently, there are around 7 billion devices on the Internet of Things, a number which could triple in the next year. The scale of this increase presents a huge challenge for security professionals, as the growing network exponentially increases the number of access points for hackers.

Privacy And Data Security

As the IoT develops we’ll witness more and more household items such as thermostats, printers, and refrigerators generating data on their users. This is an entirely new avenue from which data can be generated, collected, and then dispersed and issues around privacy and security will be at the forefront of this conversation.

Because of the location of these devices at the heart of many people’s daily lives, the data generated is highly sensitive. Companies will need to anonymize the data they have generated before it can be used and governments will need to be increasingly dynamic in their policy moves to protect this data. If developers don’t take steps to protect data from the IoT, the potential for customers to lose trust in this new technology is a big risk.

Lacking Encryption

It’s inevitable that a fridge is going to have a fraction of the processing power of a traditional computer. This lack of power means that a major challenge for the IoT is creating secure ways to encrypt devices and protect them from hacker infiltrations. With the IoT we’re likely to see more hackers attacking and manipulating the algorithms encrypting devices. Once solution to this is blockchain technology, which can be used to encrypt these devices in dispersed ways that are difficult to hack.

Weakness Of Default Passwords

Consumers are already feeling overwhelmed by password security in the digital world and there’s a strong likelihood that they’re not conceptually ready to password protect each device in their homes. This means default passwords are likely to remain and if this becomes the norm these passwords need to be engineered for strength in the face of an attack. Currently, default passwords tend to be quite weak – the IoT needs a cultural shift towards stronger passwords. The state of California took a step towards this in 2018 when it passed legislation banning default passwords entirely.

Update Risks

The speed with which the market for IoT devices is growing means that developers are rushing to market with their devices. However, once a device is on the market developers need to be clear that the work to protect these gadgets is not done – regular updates of all connected devices are essential, otherwise previously secure devices will be left dangerously vulnerable as hackers develop their tools.

In the early days of computing this was a major issue, but it was largely solved by regular software updates. Developers need to be prepared to take the same strategy with the IoT, releasing patches and updates for all their connected products.

Malware And Ransomware

Attacks feature malware and ransomware aimed at exploiting the IoT are inevitable as the number of IoT devices grows. The potential for these attacks to steal sensitive data by capturing the functions of some of these devices is gravely serious, for example webcams could be exploited to capture sensitive images not only of homes and offices, but the wider world as more devices are fitted with cameras.

Hybrid malware/ransomware attacks will become the norm on the IoT as attacks simultaneously focus on stealing data and reducing the functionality of devices. Because the range of connected devices is growing rapidly there will be a degree of unpredictability within the creativity of these attacks. Developers need to be highly attuned to these risks in order to prevent them. 

Profound Challenges

The expansion of the IoT will create profound security challenges as our previously innocuous domestic devices are increasingly at risk of attack. If companies and developers rush products to market without sufficiently considering security risks and being prepared for the need for sustained updates, the IoT will be a new and insecure frontier for hacking and malware attacks.


Katherine Rundell

Article by Katherine

Katherine Rundell is a writer and editor at Custom Essay and BoomEssays. She is fascinated by the emerging applications of technology and has been writing for Essayroo.com about digital security since the early days of the internet.

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