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IoT Penetration Testing

Read Time: 3 min.

The Internet of Things is changing literally every sector of the economy, from households to
manufacturing. To support this new round of the industrial revolution, it is necessary to
provide reliable protection against cyber threats of all interconnected components for which
IoT Penetration Testing is used.

IoT Penetration Testing
IoT Penetration Testing

Can IoT Devices Be Used for Cyber Attacks?

Attackers tend to work for the masses, for example, in distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks, in which thousands of emails or requests are sent to a server to slow it down or disable it altogether. In this case, in the future, we may face situations when hackers try to "fill up" as many machines as possible in the hope that some of them will not work properly, which will lead to dire consequences.

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Having gained access to an Internet of Things server, an attacker can use the devices for their own purposes, for extortion or data exploration for subsequent attacks on the network with stronger and more dangerous consequences. Perhaps this is the reason why governments are talking about the potential dangers of the Internet of Things associated with cyberattacks.

Several years ago, the CIA noted a threat from smart refrigerators in smart homes. The organization was alarmed by the fact that the refrigerator was being used as part of a botnet to carry out a DDOS attack! And all this happened completely unnoticed by the owner of this refrigerator, who had no idea that his smart device could perform any harmful actions, except to cool and preserve food.

The Gartner study notes that cyberattacks on the Internet of Things have become a reality. About 20% of organizations surveyed by Gartner encountered them in the period from 2015 to 2018. According to Gartner analyst Ruggero Contu, when deploying the Internet of Things, companies often do not pay attention to the sources of equipment and software purchases, as well as their features.

IoT security is becoming a business priority and the implementation of the best cyber security practices and tools is already being taken into account when planning IoT. According to experts, the main driver of growth in the market under consideration is the demand for tools and services that improve threat detection and asset management, assess the security of equipment and software, as well as testing for the protection of IoT systems from unauthorized access. Gartner predicts that these factors will drive IoT security spending to $ 3.1 billion in 2021.

What Is IoT Penetration Testing?

IoT Penetration Testing is conducted to solve the problem of the Internet of Things (IoT) use to penetrate computer systems. The Internet of Things is actively spreading around the world and is on the beginning of a burst of development. This is facilitated by factors such as 5G networks, Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the growing possibilities of microprocessor computing.

Smart home, smart business and the industrial segment of IoT devices have similar implementation problems, namely the lack of uniform standards, including documentation standards, high-quality descriptions of protocols and connections and the corresponding high cost of analyzing the level of actual security, the lack of standards for protection functions and, as a rule, lack of microchip resources for the high-quality implementation of encryption, authentication and others.

Threats Which IoT Penetration Testing Can Help Eliminate

Traditionally, embedded devices have been thought to work on their own and are not connected to online systems, which means they don't really need reliable protection. However, digital transformation and the Internet of Things have fundamentally changed the situation. Now all components are interconnected, and they require comprehensive protection against all threats, including:

  • Theft and use of confidential information and user credentials
  • Exploitation of vulnerabilities in applications
  • Remote access and attacks via mobile devices
  • Ransomware attacks
  • Installing unauthorized firmware
  • Data interception and man-in-the-middle attacks

According to principle of end-to-end information safety, cyber security should be laid at the initial stage of product or service design and maintained until the end of their life cycle. In practice, as specified by various studies, the purpose of which was not to identify any specific unsafe Internet devices and to catch their manufacturers, but to indicate the problem of information security risks in the IoT world as a whole, such a next picture is obtained.

Researchers are focusing on issues both on the side of device owners and issues for developers to think about. So, at the very beginning of operation, the user must necessarily replace the factory default password with his personal one, since the factory passwords are the same on all devices and do not differ in strength. Unfortunately, not everyone does it. Since not all appliances have built-in cyber security protections, owners should also take care to install external security designed for home use so that Internet devices do not become open gateways to the home network or direct tools of harm.

They also found that about two-thirds of the devices analyzed did not encrypt wireless traffic. Experts considered the web interface of more than half of the devices unsafe due to the insecure organization of access and the high risks of cross-site scripting. Most devices have passwords that are not strong enough. In addition, more than 90% of devices collect some kind of personal information about the owner without his knowledge.

In total, experts have counted about 25 different vulnerabilities in each of the studied devices and their mobile and cloud components. The experts' conclusion is disappointing: a sufficiently secure IoT ecosystem does not yet exist. The things of the Internet are especially dangerous in the context of the spread of targeted attacks (APT). As soon as the attackers show interest in someone, our faithful ware helpers from the IoT world turn into traitors who open wide open access to the world of their owners.

In the IoT, there are many opportunities for intruders to penetrate and attack. Most vulnerabilities are related to the insecure overall IoT ecosystem.

  • standardization of architecture and protocols, certification of devices;
  • using the weakness of one gadget, it is easy for a hacker to get into the whole network;
  • sensor power supply;
  • use of unsafe software;
  • standard accounts from the manufacturer, weak authentication;
  • lack of support from the manufacturer to eliminate vulnerabilities;
  • Transition to IPv6;
  • it is difficult or impossible to update software and OS;
  • using text protocols and unnecessary open ports;
  • use of unprotected mobile technologies;
  • use of unsecured cloud infrastructure.

Does IoT Penetration Testing Ensure Complete Device Security?

The emergence of IoT devices has significantly expanded the list of devices connected to the Internet, which means they are potentially vulnerable to attacks. A hacker can freely buy any device he is interested in and study its security system. Unlike conventional servers, which are usually attacked remotely and have a specialized security system, IoT devices are more susceptible to unauthorized access.

The widespread use of these devices means that if one of them is compromised, the manufacturing company will not be able to quickly recall all the devices and update the protection system. In addition, hackers can penetrate the entire network through one device. Thus, one device will provide unauthorized access to a wide range of confidential data - from bank details to medical records, and even to important corporate information, given that many people use the same devices at home and at work.

Therefore, the safest solution would be to use continuous penetration testing , when no possible vulnerability of any device connected to your network will be missed. This method of ensuring security allows you to work as if proactively preventing hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities of your devices and the entire system as a whole. IoT Penetration Testing conducted after a full scan and inventory of all information assets will be as effective as possible, since comprehensive information about all possible weak points will not allow you to lose sight of anything.

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