IoT Security in India: Exploring the Risks Associated With IoT Devices and Strategies for Protection

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Internet of Things (IoT) devices may look less prone to threats, but surprisingly hackers still infiltrate them. Mirai, for example, is a name that strikes fear in the hearts of many who are aware of its infamous history. In 2016, the Mirai botnet took down major websites in India via massive distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks, using hundreds of thousands of compromised IoT devices.

Therefore, the benefits of IoT come with significant security risks that need to be addressed. The lack of a universal security standard for IoT devices puts data at risk. According to Veridify, in the first half of 2022, there was a 77% increase in malware attacks on IoT/Connected Devices globally. Statista also reported that the number of IoT attacks worldwide reached over 10.54 million in December 2022, showing that IoT security shouldn’t be taken lightly in India and globally.  

Key Risks and Vulnerabilities of IoT Devices

IoT devices are heavily dependent on the internet and are more prone to cyber-attacks. They’re top of the list when considering cybercrime protection. However, you can get maximum protection of all your personal data, enjoy privacy online, and access unbreakable encryption through VPN services such as Private Internet Access

Consequently, IoT devices have brought unparalleled convenience and efficiency to our daily lives and, as such, must be protected at all costs. These IoT devices encompass everything from smart thermostats and wearable fitness trackers to industrial sensors and connected vehicles. However, this interconnectedness also raises significant concerns about security and privacy. So, it becomes imperative to recognize and address the key risks and vulnerabilities they introduce into our digital ecosystem.

  • Weak Authentication

Many IoT devices have weak authentication mechanisms, making them vulnerable to unauthorized access. Securing IoT devices with passwords is one way they get shielded from Cyber-attacks. However, if these passwords are weak, hackers will eventually penetrate these devices and extract valuable information or data. 

Strongdm reveals that over 82% of data breaches in 2020 were caused by authentication issues, such as stolen or weak credentials. For example, 13 percent of Americans make use of the same password for several accounts. At the same time, 59 percent of adults use their names or birthdays as their passwords. This approach becomes easier for hackers to penetrate accounts and steal confidential data. 

  • Absence of Encryption 

Transmitting data without encryption is a common practice with IoT devices. Consequently, making data susceptible to interception and subsequently exposed to unauthorized access. In 2021, Air India suffered a data breach that exposed the personal data of 4.5 million passengers worldwide due to a cyberattack on systems at airline data service provider SITA. The lack of encryption on regular transmissions is one of the most significant threats to IoT security. Hence, gives rise to the urgent need for robust encryption protocols to protect sensitive information from being compromised.

Strategies for Robust Security on IoT Devices 

The following strategies can be implemented to protect IoT devices:

  • Strong Authentication 

Implement robust authentication mechanisms, like multifactor or two-factor authentication, such as fingerprints and passwords, to verify a user’s identity. This is to ensure that only authorized users can access IoT devices. According to Okta, multi-factor authentication is becoming increasingly popular, with 57% of users adopting it in 2020, up from 45% in 2019. 

Also, biometric authentication is another method to protect your devices. You can use unique physical characteristics like iris scans, facial recognition, or fingerprints to safeguard devices. One-time passwords can be adopted as well because they are temporary passwords that are generated to be used once and expire after a brief period. Smart cards with embedded microchips are also used to store and process data and other valuable credentials. 

  • Proper Encryption 

Encryption protects your data from being changed, stolen, or compromised by scrambling it in such a way that only authorized parties can access it. It can only be unlocked with a cryptographic key or set of mathematical values. Here, both the sender and recipient agree on a unique digital key to encrypt and decrypt data. According to a survey by Statista in 2021, 56% of business respondents reported having extensive encryption deployed for their internet communications. This encryption makes data transmissions between IoT devices to protect sensitive information from having unauthorized access. 

Executing these strategies will enhance the security of IoT devices in India, reducing the infiltration of malware by hackers and every other form of cyberattack. 

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