Internet of Things (IoT) Security

Internet of Things Security

There is not a distinctive standard explanation of what exactly what the Internet of Things (IoT) is. Most professionals define the term as the connection of diverse devices that can provides or request a service over the Internet to enable human-to-thing, thing-to-thing, and thing-to-things for the transmission of data. There are many ways that IoT applications are improving everyday life. Vehicles are now being equipped with small IoT devices that enable vehicles to downloading roadmaps with updated traffic information and protection against auto theft. Even are buildings are having IoT device installed with sensors that allow users to remotely control a building’s energy consumption to different systems such as lights and air conditioners based on preferences. Even many household items are sold being sold with their own embedded processing unit which enable product to have IoT abilities.

The concept of what IoT as systems is composed of has caught the attention of many people from academic and industry. The IoT reference model has been used to explain the each of the different sections within an IoT system ranges from three to seven different levels. The first reference model for IoT system consisted of three levels and described IoT as a system of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs).

  1. Application
  2. Cloud server
  3. WSN

The second model proposed model has five-levels and reduces the complexity during interactions between different sections of the model, resulting in simpler applications with well-defined components. The current model created by CISCO in 2014 extends the previous models into seven different levels, where the flow of data has a dominate direction depending on the type of application. The first three levels of the model are grouped into the Edge-side layer.

  • Level 1 consists of edge devices computing nodes such as: smart controllers, sensors, and RDIF readers.
  • Level 2 consists of the many communication components that enable the transmission of data or commands.
  • Level 3 is the edge ( or fog) computing level. This is where simple data processing starts to reduce the computation load in the upper levels, producing a faster response.

The next three layers are grouped into the server or Cloud-side layer.

  • Level 4 reduces the amount of data in motion to resting state by filtering and selective storing network packets to database tables.
  • Level 5 the information becomes abstract to provide the ability to render and store data allowing more efficient and simpler data processing.
  • Level 6 the information can be interpreted in application for marketing, academic, and industrial needs.

The final group contains only level 7, this is where users interact with the data using application from the IoT node data.

 

 

The motivations of potential attackers who launch attacks against IoT devices and systems might include the stealing of sensitive data or compromising IoT component. The vulnerabilities for IoT devices at the first level start with hardware Trojans. These are a major concert for IoT integrated circuits since an attacker can use the circuit to exploit a nodes functionality to get access to data or software running on integrated circuits. This might happen one of two ways:

  • Externally activated trojan by an antenna or sensor
  • Internal-activated trojan once a certain condition is met within the integrated circuits

Non-network side-channel attacks in edge node may reveal critical information under normal operation even when a node is not current using any wireless communication to send or receive data. Lastly, a Denial of service (DoS) attacks can occur against IoT devices and the three main types of attack are: battery draining, sleep deprivation, and outage attacks.

  • In a batter draining DoS attack, an attacker will send many packets to a node forcing it to run varies system checks repeatedly. Since nodes tended to be very small, carrying small batteries with limited energy capacity.
  • In a Sleep deprivation attack, an attacker will attempt to send a chain of request to a node that will appear to be legitimate. Since most IoT nodes are battery-powered node with a limited energy capacity.
  • When a possible outage attacks occurs, an edge node stops performing at normal operating. However, this may be as a result of an unintended error or a system issue.

Implementing RFID tags in IoT device at the edge node level requires all such RFID tags to provide a unique identifier that any nearby RFID reader can read. The tag that is attached to a product or an individual making creating tracking information. Certain types of tags can carry information about the product or individual it is attached to making a node easily inventoried for a third party. The electronic product code (EPC) tags contains two custom fields that create privacy concerns for users: the manufacturer and product code.

The scope of attacks at the communication level of the reference model an attacker might consider for reconnaissance is network eavesdropping or packet sniffing. This occurs when an attacker deliberately listening to private conversion over system communication links. This can prove an attacker with invaluable information when the data is unencrypted or sent in plaintext. Data contained within a network packet might contain the following:

  • Usernames & passwords
  • Shared network passwords
  • Node configuration

A side-channel attack is not easy to implement but are powerful attack against encryption algorithms. This type of attack can be launched from the both edge node and communication levels. However, when a side-channel attack is launched from the communication level are not easily defended against since this method is non-invasive and undetectable. Another possible attack at this level is the injection of fraudulent packets into communication links by inserting new packets in networking or the capturing networking packets then manipulation of the data containing with.

There are new and emerging challenges to securing IoT systems such as dramatic increase in the number of weak links and unexpected uses of data. The dramatic increase in the number are as a result of the special characteristics of devices and cost factors by device manufactures such as compact battery-powered devices with limited storage and computation resources, many market devices are not able to support secure cryptographic protocols. Lastly, the unexpected uses of data from environment or user-related data collection by Internet sensors from present computing enabled by IoT technologies has led to the unwelcome influence of Internet-connected sensors in everyday living around create privacy concerns with users.

As more developers push new IoT devices and services to the Internet this will lead to the discovery of new IoT vulnerabilities and attacks against users and systems. Most system are designed to a specific application or service and testing the security of the system might be complex and time consuming but is necessary as the number of new devices deployed to the Internet by manufactures increases each week. Some security threats might not be as widely recognized other are, but new threats to IoT devices and application should be made addresses both by security professionals and developers to minizine the scope of possible risk to users and devices.

 

References

MOSENIA, A., & JHA, N. (2017). A Comprehensive Study of Security of Internet-of-Things. IEEE Transactions on Emerging Topics in Computing, 586-602.

 

 

Published by

Kevin Day

I am a student at Metropolitan State University completing a B.S. degree in Computer Information Technology B.S. I have always enjoyed solving puzzles and math equations, which explains why computer programming and building networks comes very easy to me. I’ve enjoyed working with friends’ or family’s computer problems as it presents new challenges, restoring them back to working order. When I program computers, I use creativity to solve algorithms and build new projects to enhance my programming and computer skills.

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