You Ask We Answer 4. Can IoT devices be hacked?

Sooner or later, all computing devices can surrender to hacking endeavors. This is the go-to answer in the security industry when asked if IoT devices can be hacked. Of course, this response does not take into consideration the particulars of the target and the attacker.

The Internet of Things has taken the consumer world by storm, creating a huge market that keeps growing. While the popularity of the gadgets has ballooned, professionals have warned of their insecure state from early on. The danger they pose, though, suddenly became real to the entire world when Mirai botnet hit in September 2016 to launch denial-of-service attacks.

These days, reports of compromised IoT devices come in a steady stream, alerting readers to new vulnerabilities and malware exploiting old bugs to form armies of hacked smart systems. New ways to bypass protections in connected products has also been researched, exposing design or development flaws that could be exploited to the benefit of a malicious individual.

So, yes, IoT devices can be hacked. The question of whether a successful attack can be launched against a particular target may get a different answer. Given enough time, though, a skilled, determined hacker with physical or remote access to an IoT system can find a way to compromise it. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the method would also be practical.

However, consumers devices are typically the targets of less experienced or lazier attackers, so a different threat model applies to you. A few steps can mitigate the risk and make your connected systems too much effort for an attacker.

Often, not exposing the device directly on the web is enough. If exposure is unavoidable, these precautions help lower the possibility of a successful attack.

Some say an electronic device that is truly not hackable is one that is powered down. With wireless charging gaining popularity, it’s not so certain that this holds true these days, either.

In the end, the question is not whether IoT devices can be hacked, but how easily the average attacker could compromise yours. And for this, the answer is less complicated than you think.

Image credit: aitoff

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