The ever-expanding IoT landscape has offered endless opportunities for businesses but has also opened the doors for various threats that can’t be overlooked.
Whether we talk about identity thefts or sensitive information breaches, IoT devices, and interconnected networks are now on the radar of cybercriminals.
Talking about the types of attacks, the IoT botnet attacks are now swiftly affecting a vast network of interconnected devices, including smart devices, smartphones, and computers.
IoT botnet is a group of hacked systems, computers, and smart devices that exploit sensitive data, resulting in financial and reputational losses.
Hence, enterprises developing IoT devices, smart applications, or other systems in the IoT landscape shouldn’t ignore the risks associated with botnet attacks.
Let’s understand what an IoT botnet attack means and how IoT developers and vendors can mitigate the risk.
The Architecture of a Botnet Attack
A botnet shouldn’t be mistaken as a haphazard virus with no structure. On the contrary, a typical botnet resembles a sustainable virtual "cancer" that strategically infects device after device. This process of infection happens almost automatically.
A classic botnet includes the following components:
- The Attacker: This device is the initiator or source of the malware. The first event that leads to infection is when the device receives a virus file. This component will release the virus to the first group of devices.
- Bots: The devices that download these files become bots. They can become attackers and spread the virus to other devices through emails or even a simple visit to a site. In a sense, they are now afflicted with malware as well.
- The Botnet: The bots are then connected to a central command and control server. This connection of the bots to the server and each other is known as the Botnet.
- Communication Pathways: This refers to protocols like HTTP or IRC (Internet Relay Chat) that the bot might use to communicate with the C&C server.
- Victims: The infection cycle continues infinitely as more devices download the malware. Therefore, the bot attack will leave many "victims" in their wake.
Now, these components can undergo arrangements into a particular hierarchy or structure.
How IoT Botnet Attacks May Affect Businesses and End-Users?
With the evolution of IoT devices in the past couple of years, we’ve witnessed a surge in the adoption of smart devices capable of delivering seamless user experiences to users to perform their daily tasks.
However, the threats in the IoT landscape are driven mainly by the availability of different devices, most of which aren’t adequately secured and vulnerable to botnet attacks.
The severity of these IoT botnet attacks can be evaluated because the vendors and developers may compromise their sensitive information and customer details.
However, there could be other drastic consequences of a breach in the IoT network where users’ personal information, including bank account details, can be compromised, leading to financial losses.
What IoT Vendors and Developers Need to Focus on to Mitigate the Risk?
IoT botnet attacks can be prevented, and sensitive business and user information can be secured by incorporating specific information security policies. Here’s what can be done to mitigate the risks associated with IoT botnet attacks:
#1. Emphasizing adequate cybersecurity hygiene.
Good cybersecurity hygiene is key to preventing botnet attacks since attackers must surpass various lines of defense before exploiting crucial business or user information.
Adding multiple layers of authentication in the IoT network and devices through multi-factor authentication (MFA) and risk-based authentication (RBA) could mitigate many risks associated with identity theft and account takeovers.
#2. Get compliance.
Businesses must understand that they must follow stringent data security and privacy regulations governing how user information must be collected, stored, and managed securely.
Hence, if a business isn’t complying with different data protection and privacy regulations, including the GDPR and the CCPA, it is more likely to compromise crucial business data.
Apart from this, getting compliance would also help brands win customer trust and eventually avoid hefty fines in case of non-compliance in some countries.
#3. Access management through a robust identity management platform.
A robust customer identity and access management (CIAM) platform can help IoT vendors and developers secure customer identities and their crucial information.
Incorporating a reliable identity management solution would also help meet compliances and ensure business data and customer information isn’t compromised at any stage as access control over resources, devices, and networks are strictly monitored.
IoT botnets are creating new challenges for IoT developers and vendors since customer and business data security isn’t something any business would ever wish to compromise.
On the other hand, businesses relying on poor security mechanisms on the device and network level have to rethink their security infrastructure since attackers are always on a hunt for devices and applications that are poorly secured.
Hence, incorporating a robust security policy, as mentioned above, could be the best thing to ensure businesses, vendors, developers, and users in the IoT landscape remain secure.