If an organization is targeted by hackers in 2023, the incident will highly likely involve poorly protected IoT devices.
The number of Internet of Things (IoT) components is steadily growing every year.
In 2022, there were 13.14 billion IoT devices worldwide.
In 2023, the expected number of globally connected IoT devices is over 15 billion.
By 2030, it’s predicted that this number will reach over 30 billion.
With the rise of IoT devices, cybersecurity companies have been detecting a higher number of hacking exploits that leverage poorly protected components.
What can the latest cybersecurity incidents and IoT vulnerabilities teach us about security for smart devices, and what measures can you deploy to protect vulnerable components?
Here, we explore three IoT security vulnerabilities that can escalate into major incidents for unprotected companies.
#1 New Versions of the Mirai Malware
Since 2016, Mirai malware has created botnets that consist of connected IoT devices. The new iterations of Mirai have been reemerging to deploy Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
The code for the botnet was released and now is at the disposal of even less skilled threat actors. They have been modifying it to exploit different vulnerabilities. Lately, that has meant tweaking the code to use even more IoT devices that have unpatched components.
Some of the companies that have fallen victim to the Mirai-based cyber attacks include big names like Amazon, PayPal, and Netflix.
New strands of the botnet wreak havoc on companies that don’t have proper security in place. They can’t keep up with all the IoT components linked to the network and block versatile known and zero-day attacks.
In February 2023, the new version of the Mirai malware (dubbed V3G4) appeared. It has been compromising IoT and Linux servers, turning IoT into “zombies”.
If the malware was deployed successfully, the threat actor used the Mirai botnet to conduct DDoS attacks.
What can companies do to protect themselves from DDoS attacks?
Preventing DDoS Attacks Deployed With IoT Devices
Security solutions designed to protect IoT devices:
- Discover all of the devices that are linked to the company’s network
- Assess whether the components contain vulnerabilities that pose a risk to the company
- Block the lateral movement for the bad actors that managed to obtain illicit access to the system
- Patch the flaws that could put the IoT devices at risk — in real-time
#2 New IoT Weakness Added to the Library of Flaws
In November 2022, researchers noticed two flaws that compromised IoT devices; CVE-2023-1017 and CVE-2023-1018.
These vulnerabilities present a problem for billions of companies that use Trusted Platform Module (TPM) solutions for cryptography.
In March 2013, researchers issued the patches and upgrades that software manufacturers were to apply to secure their IoT devices.
In the worst-case scenario, if the threat actor exploited these flaws, they would grant them unauthorized access to the system. With privileged access to the network, they could get access to sensitive data.
To avoid the supply chain attack, both manufacturers and vendors are advised to apply updates and avoid risk.
How can enterprises fight threats that exploit IoT flaws?
Patching Up IoT Weaknesses Early
IoT devices are challenging to protect because of their large number and the small size of components. Also, for some of the older IoTs, manufacturers ceased releasing updates on the security as well as relevant patches, rendering them insecure.
Another reason IoT devices within a company can be difficult to protect is the lack of visibility, not knowing how many components there are, as well as who is attempting to misuse them.
However, the longer organizations wait to patch up flaws within the system, the more costly the aftermath of the hacking attempt.
Retaining the visibility of all the IoT devices in minutes. And patching the weaknesses of the IoT components as soon as possible.
#3 Realtek, a Critical Vulnerability For IoT Components
At the end of 2022, researchers tracked a major vulnerability caused by IoT devices. They took note of over 134 cases of hacking attempts that tried to exploit this gap in security.
The high-risk vulnerability is now known as Realtek Jungle SDK. On a scale of 1–10 of severity, it was rated 9.8.
This weakness affected over 190 devices by 66 different manufacturers all over the globe. Most of the hacking cases took place in the U.S.
The goal of the attack was to either deploy malware to poorly protected IoT devices or to gain illicit access to the network via vulnerable IoT components.
Although the flaw was discovered and patched up in December 2022, the first attacks began months earlier, in August 2022.
How to prevent vulnerabilities such as Realtek from exploiting IoT devices and compromising the assets of a company?
Appling Zero Trust
Besides patching up vulnerable IoT components, it’s also necessary to separate the IoT components from the rest of the network.
Criminals can use them to gain illicit access to the systems and obtain sensitive data of both users and companies.
Once the IoT components are segmented, apply zero trust to prevent illicit access to the network.
Best IoT Security Practices
When unprotected, small IoT devices can turn into major security flaws for corporations and individuals alike. Lax security practices concerning IoT devices can put the company at risk of DDoS attacks and critical malware.
As CISO Stéphane Nappo says: ”IoT Without Security = Internet of Threats”.
What protective measures can you take to secure your IoT devices? Start with:
- Separating the IoT components from the rest of the network
- Using AI-based IoT security to continually monitor and identify IoT devices
- Patching up critical flaws early
- Applying zero trust across the entire network
Those are some of the top practices necessary to guard the system that utilizes IoT components.