Could your organization be the next victim of a cyber attack? Few other technological advancements have been adopted by so many people in such a short period of time as the Internet of Things (IoT). Originally used by governments as a means of sharing information, IoT was first rolled out for mainstream commercial and consumer use in the early-to-mid 1990s. Just three decades later, it’s currently amassed 5.19 billion users globally— nearly two-thirds of the world’s population.
Defined as a global computer network enabling access to and communication with the world’s wealth of information, people, and devices, data industry expert Sean Mallon recently referred to IoT as “the most important development of the 21st century.”
The Dark Underbelly of IoT
While the Internet of Things has clearly transformed global communications, improved the speed and efficiency of information exchange for consumers and businesses alike, and impacted the fundamental way in which modern society interacts and operates, it has a dark side as well. This primarily takes the form of bad actors who capitalize on opportunities to use the technology for nefarious purposes.
Take, for example, the use of botnets. Hackers infect these networks of private computers with malicious software. They then control the botnets remotely, directing each connected device to perform tasks without the network owners’ knowledge.
Within unsecured computers, bad actors can use botnets to deploy malware, steal personal information, and attack websites. For example, internet giants Cloudflare, Google, and Amazon Web Services narrowly avoided a disastrous attack in October 2023 when a botnet involving 20,000 computers attempted a record-large and unprecedented distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on those three organizations’ websites and services.
Bad actors also use botnets as a key means of spreading misinformation. A real-life example of botnets proliferating in daily life and impacting a massive group of people was witnessed during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, when hackers used Twitter accounts to share inaccurate information that was made to appear factual and trustworthy in order to influence public opinion.
Malware– an umbrella term referring to any intrusive software that hackers develop to steal data and damage or destroy computers or systems– is yet another type of attack that can be perpetrated through IoT and any unsecured connected devices. Malware comes in various forms such as viruses, worms, spyware, adware, and ransomware.
Real-life examples of the threat posed by malware include what’s become known as “CovidLock,” a ransomware attack in 2020 that took advantage of people’s desire for more information on COVID to ultimately deny access to Android users’ devices unless they paid a “ransom” of US$100. In the business community, the famed “Emotet” virus in 2018 propagated financial theft of bank accounts and cryptocurrencies, resulting in damages of US$1 million to the city of Allentown, Pennsylvania and US$2 million to Chilean bank Consorcio. According to Statista, 5.5 billion malware attacks were detected globally in 2022. Experts fear that this number will only continue to grow worldwide with the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) tools.
Safeguard Your Company from IoT Cyber Threats
Given our global society’s ever-expanding use of the Internet of Things and connected devices, along with the growing sophistication of tools employed by hackers, is your organization adequately positioned to help prevent cyber attacks and the damage they can inflict on your company’s financial status, brand, and reputation?
All About IoT Security, an eLearning program from IEEE, is here to help you bolster your defense against this threat.
This online program recognizes that, as Internet devices and systems become increasingly commonplace in our interconnected and digitalized society, connected devices run the increasing risk of being targeted and abused as tools to facilitate other malicious activities.
Developed by IEEE Educational Activities with support from the IEEE Internet of Things Technical Community, this six-course program provides audience members with a broad overview of IoT security, starting with malware (botnet detection and malware analysis) followed by vulnerabilities, network monitoring, setting up of testbeds, and application of blockchain in IoT security.
Specifically, learners will receive instruction on challenges and opportunities in IoT security and how IoT botnets grow their networks as well as forensics of IoT malware, taxonomy when designing an IoT system for security purposes, and the application of blockchain to the IoT. The course program is ideal for engineers in the fields of product and design, communications systems, computers, software and security, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Interested in access for yourself? To enroll in this course, visit the IEEE Learning Network.
Connect with an IEEE Content Specialist today to learn how to get access to this program for your organization today.
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Petrosyan, Ani. (31 August 2023). Malware – Statistics & Facts. Statista.