Among the downsides of having technology do everything for us, perhaps the most prominent one is forgetting how to do those things ourselves. In the case of cybersecurity, this downside is sometimes more than obvious. For example, we rely on antivirus to detect and get rid of threats, but sometimes, that means we’ll forget how to stay secure online. As a result, we may end up clicking on suspicious links in an email.
In much the same way, most users today aren’t sure how their networks work — they’re just happy to know they do. However, that can create a problem, because it becomes difficult to detect when something is amiss, especially in a system with many vulnerabilities.
Our network devices do all the work for us, but they can also be quite easy to exploit for different cyberattacks. It’s important to understand how network devices work within an IoT security framework if we are to defend these systems from malicious attackers.
Routers and Gateways as Attack Vectors
The main point of weakness of routers and gateways is the fact that they have external IP addresses. As such, they’re easy to hack — American Consumer Institute statistics have shown that a vast majority of routers in the U.S. is vulnerable to a cyberattack.
Because routers and gateways manage all our network communication and are also supposed to secure other devices in the network, this vulnerability is extremely unfortunate. In fact, it can even be dangerous, judging by the number of massive attacks that exploited their weakness.
Cybersecurity Attacks Using Routers
Perhaps the most infamous cyberattack targeting routers happened in 2016. Named Mirai, the attack used default passwords to crack the system’s defenses, opening the floodgates to many other similar attacks. The biggest attack of 2018 affected more than 500,000 devices via a botnet. VPNFilter even got the FBI involved to issue a warning and offer guidelines to affected users to help them locate and shut down the operation.
A router can be attacked in various ways other than a botnet or default passwords. Open ports, unsecured web services, and command injection are some of the possible ways to get into a system through a router. From there, an attacker can launch a massive DDoS attack on a website or ISP.
Protecting an IoT Network
When defending an IoT network, the first step is to assess the existing network security situation, and this is no small task. Analyzing the data and possible vulnerabilities can be a long process, but your next steps will depend on it.
For example, you might have hard-coded passwords, or you may be using libraries that are non-required. Any feature that has been used previously in cyberattacks could be a vulnerability if there’s no adapted framework in place to identify and protect your IoT network by design.
Reducing the Risks
Network devices are not without vulnerabilities, which leaves them open to being used in massive cyberattacks. To reduce the risks of having cybersecurity attacks, basic or substantial levels of security evaluation must be conducted on all of the IoT network devices before issuance in addition to a continuous monitoring and mitigation approaches applied during the operational phase.