With the IoT industry growing rapidly, security concerns have become more prevalent. While IoT can make numerous tasks more efficient, accurate, and cost-effective, it is important to be aware of the potential risks that can come with it. Since IoT works by exchanging data between devices for communication and automation, this data is a prime target for hackers.
Recently, with more and more IoT projects going into function, hackers have been finding more ways to get access to these projects and exploit their data, and one of the main reasons these attacks are successful is because basic security protocols are neglected or outdated.
Therefore, if you have an IoT project or are planning to start one, implementing and updating security measures should be a top priority in the upcoming future. In this blog, we will go over some tips for securing your IoT devices in 2022 and keeping them secure through the future.
1. Implement Better Password Practices
Sometimes the simplest methods are the most effective. Brute force methods are surprisingly effective for hackers. Brute force is an attack method used by hackers that consists of automatically trying to get the correct password by trying numerous times until it gets it right.
While this method seems like it would take an enormous amount of time, hackers have many ways of optimizing it. For starters, trying combinations of frequently used passwords makes it a safer bet that it will eventually get it right. Another useful method is trying the default passwords for every single device in your system. Remember, since everything is connected with each other in IoT projects, even an IoT coffee maker without a proper password can compromise the entire project.
This issue can be solved by guaranteeing that good password practices are being applied throughout the whole project. Apply practices such as:
- Change default passwords as soon as the object is booted up for the first time
- Do not use easily guessable passwords like “12345”, a birthday, a name, “admin”, “password”, etc.
- Incorporate combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols into each of your passwords
- Do not use the same password for every device or even multiple devices
- Use a password manager
- Instead of using a password utilize Public Key Cryptography
Applying these simple tips can significantly hinder any brute force attack attempted on your project since a good password can leave even the most efficient brute force algorithms having to last way more time than it would be worth.
2. Use a VPN to Encrypt Data When Connected to the Internet
Data sent through the internet can be accessed and read if it is intercepted by hackers. Using a VPN with encryption can make your data more secure.
Encrypting data means taking the plaintext and converting it into a ciphertext, usually by a randomly generated key. The information gets encrypted from one end, then it gets sent over the internet, and finally, it gets deciphered on the other end.
This means that even if your information was accessed by a hacker, it would be impossible to understand. Encryption is a great tool for guaranteeing the integrity and secrecy of your information.
Using a VPN can also change your IP address. A VPN is created when a point-to-point connection is established with tunneling protocols. This means that your project’s IP address, the number that identifies any device’s place in a network, can change to reflect the new one used with the VPN.
VPNs are strong options, however they also have some clear drawbacks that are hard to ignore. Thankfully, there is an alternative:
For example here at Nabto we have developed an IoT connectivity platform that’s based on P2P for communication between end-user clients and IoT devices. P2P -or peer-to-peer – is a networking technology that allows devices to connect with each other directly, making each device work as both a client and a server.
Just by using P2P technology, the disadvantages of using a VPN are no longer a problem:
- Latency is reduced to a minimum since information does not go to a server and back between devices.
- Reliability is not compromised since communication happens locally
- P2P encryption from Nabto makes data illegible to hackers and keeps your information safe.
3. Prepare for Scalability and Future Commissioning
Introducing new devices to an already existing IoT project can leave some unexpected vulnerabilities, and this is why you should prepare for the project’s growth from the very beginning.
When introducing new devices to an existing project, it will be seen by any nearby networks. If you do not take security and privacy in IoT measures seriously and add them to the project, hackers can use the new vulnerabilities as a gateway to access your entire project.
Apply strategies that guarantee that you are not leaving any open ports or that the connection remains public for an extended period of time.
Another way to effectively scale up your IoT project is by using a decentralized IoT Application Enablement Platform (AEP). A decentralized AEP solution allows you to scale up easier by reducing security risks and having minimal effect on the speed of communication – no matter how big you get.
If you’re looking to keep your IoT device safe, check out our blog on how to securely commission your IoT device.
4. Switch to a Decentralized IoT Platform
Another very important security measure you can take is to use a decentralized IoT platform instead of an IoT cloud platform. Using a cloud platform puts data at risk by sending it through the internet to an external database that can be intercepted or breached, and this could be totally out of your control. And all of this happens while also compromising aspects like latency by making it higher.
A decentralized AEP utilizes peer-to-peer (P2P) technology for communication between devices. Data is not stored in the cloud with P2P technology, but instead on the IoT device itself. And communication happens directly, which minimizes latency.
This method ensures security by giving users complete control over the data residing on the network, and with encryption, all risk of data interception is greatly reduced.
5. Segment your Project
Segmentation refers to the act of splitting your network into multiple subnetworks. This process can not only boost performance but also make your project more secure.
This is done so that in the event of a hacker getting access to one subnetwork of your project, the other subnetworks are still left inaccessible. This can also be helpful in the scenario of having to shut down only the compromised subnetwork and have the rest of the project working as normal.
6. Remember to Update
Remember to be aware of any updates that might come out for all your IoT devices. Updates from the manufacturers usually fix bugs and improve the security of your devices by patching out newly discovered vulnerabilities.
While it is true that an update can add new unexpected security vulnerabilities, usually manufacturers fix these issues before hackers can pounce, so it is a good idea to update in any case.
Following these tips can let you have a more secure project for the future, but remember that security and attacks are ever-evolving.
Therefore, it is important to be up to date with new developments and make sure you update security measures regularly.
Read Our Other Resources
We’ve published a range of IoT resources for our community, including:
- A Comparison of IoT Protocols, which provides a complete comparison of the major protocols and standards available.
- Buying versus building an IoT platform, which discusses how to choose the best option for you.
- Find the right microcontroller by reading our Complete Guide to Microcontrollers for IoT.
- If you decide to use an RTOS, check out How to Choose the Best RTOS for IoT.