Symantec: Potential Security Threats Surface as IoT Becomes Reality

Symantec: Potential Security Threats Surface as IoT Becomes Reality

Symantec Security Response has warned that a growing number of devices are becoming the focus of security threats as the IoT (Internet of Things) becomes a reality.

Image source: Symantec.

Potential security threats are very real, despite the IoT being in its early stages. One key example is a worm targeting computers running the Linux operating system that Symantec investigator Kaoru Hayashi recently discovered. The worm initially seemed nothing out of the ordinary - it leaves a back door on the infected computer, allowing the attacker to issue commands to it. Although computers are frequently patched, Hayashi found that devices such as home routers, set-top boxes, security cameras and industrial control systems were vulnerable as some vendors don’t supply updates, either because of hardware limitations or outdated technology, such as an inability to run newer versions of the software.

With the growth of Internet-enabled devices set to hit 50 billion by 2020, according to Cisco, these devices with the relative lack of security maybe one of the key targets of cyber attackers in the near future. Users of Internet-connected devices are strongly advised to follow the best practices listed below:-

  • Perform an audit of owned devices. Just because a device doesn’t possess a screen or a keyboard, doesn’t mean that it isn’t vulnerable to attacks.
  • If a device is connected to a home network, there is a possibility that it accessible over the Internet and thus needs to be secured.
  • Pay attention to the security settings on any devices purchased. If it is remotely accessible, disable this feature if it isn’t needed. Change any default passwords to something only you know. Don’t use common or easily guessable passwords such as “123456” or “password”. A long combination of letters, numbers and symbols will generate a strong password.
  • Regularly check the manufacturer’s website to see if there are updates to the device’s software. If security vulnerabilities are discovered, manufacturers will often patch them in new updates to the software.

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