How the IoT Affects Cybersecurity

To say there are a lot of devices connected to the internet would be an understatement. Over the past few years, the number of internet-connected devices has grown exponentially. According to a report published by Gartner, in fact, there are now over 14.2 billion computers, tablets, smartphones, smartwatches and other devices connected to the internet. As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow, it’s paving the way for new cyber threats.

What Is the IoT?

What is the IoT exactly? It’s a catch-all term used to describe a network of connected devices, each of which contains a unique identifier (UID). In the past, internet access was largely limited to computers. While computers — both desktops and laptops — are still used to access the internet, there are now countless other types of devices that can connect to the internet. The IoT encompasses all internet-connected devices.

Cyber Threats Associated With the IoT

The IoT poses several cyber threats, one of which is the potential for a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack. Not to be confused with a standard DoS attack, a DDoS attack requires hundreds or even thousands of hijacked devices. During a DDoS attack, a hacker will take control of many internet-connected devices, and he or she will use those devices to spam requests to a victim’s Internet Protocol (IP) address. As the requests keep pouring in, the victim’s internet service may suffer as a result.

In addition to DDoS attacks, the IoT poses a risk of social engineering. Social engineering, of course, is a form of phishing in which a hacker attempts to manipulate a victim into divulging sensitive information, such as login passwords. With the IoT, a hacker can hijack and use a device to send messages to a victim in hopes of stealing the victim’s sensitive information.

How to Protect Your Business From IoT-Related Cyber Threats

As a business owner, you should implement the appropriate safeguards to protect your computers and network from IoT-related cyber threats. Regarding DDoS attacks, a firewall is an invaluable tool. With a firewall up and running, the spam requests will be filtered so that they don’t harm the performance of your business’s internet.

Unfortunately, it’s a little more difficult to protect against social engineering. With that said, antivirus software, as well as proper training, can minimize the risk of social engineering attacks. If a hacker uses malware to perform a social engineering attack, the antivirus software should catch it.