Brianna White

Staff member
Jul 30, 2019
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We often overlook the security of Internet of Things devices, but they contain lots of private info. That's why they need to be penetration tested.

Look around you, and you'll likely find Internet of Things (IoT) devices everywhere: from the smartphones in our pockets to wearable technology on our wrists and even household appliances and industrial equipment.

The IoT can be described as any tool featuring a network of interconnected physical devices that communicate and exchange data via the internet. But of course, anything connected to the internet poses a risk, and unfortunately, IoT devices raise security concerns as well. That makes pentesting an important way to keep personal data safe.

How Risky Are IoT Devices?​

The convenience and innovation of IoT devices come with a significant risk: security.

For instance, a report by IoT Security Foundation stated that the vulnerability disclosure practice remains at 27.1 percent, and many consumer IoT companies are still not taking basic steps to maintain their product security. Another eye-opening report conducted by Netgear and Bitdefender revealed that home networks see an average of eight attacks against devices every 24 hours. Most exploited IoT devices are victims of denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.

So how can we balance the benefits of IoT devices with the pressing need for robust security? Here's where IoT pentesting comes in.

What Is IoT Pentesting?​

First of all: what is penetration testing? Imagine your computer system or network as a fortress. Penetration testing, or "pentesting," is like conducting a practice attack on that fortress to find weak spots.

Pentesting is done by pretending to be a cyberattacker; an expert then discovers security holes and flaws. Once they find these weaknesses, they can fix or strengthen them, so real attackers can't take advantage.

Similarly, IoT penetration testing is like the practice attack on the fortress, specifically for smart devices and how they talk to each other and the internet. There are pros and cons to pentesting to consider, of course.

IoT penetration testers use some clever techniques to find flaws, including: reverse-engineering the firmware (i.e. taking apart the device to see how it works and if it can be picked); analyzing network traffic (watching all the traffic going in and out of the network and verifying if there's anything suspicious); and exploiting vulnerabilities in IoT web interfaces, in an attempt to find a weak spot in your IoT device security that might let an attacker sneak in.

Through these techniques, the testers identify security flaws like unencrypted data, unsecure firmware, weak passwords, improper authentication, or access control, and fix them to ensure that your smart devices' private information stays safe.

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