Understanding IoT Vulnerabilities: Information Gathering

Since internet connected smart things are basically a stripped down version of computers or smartphones, they are also prone to many of the same vulnerabilities except that installing a security solution on them is not possible. They’re basically unprotected computers that you can connect to the interne. This does not sound right when put that way, does it?

Since navigating the internet from a laptop, desktop, or even smartphone has become practically impossible without a security solution, awareness or protecting smart things with the same diligence seems to be pretty low. Consequently, IoTs can easily become a victim of cybercriminals, without users knowing about it.

Information gathering is a type of vulnerability found in IoTs that allows attackers to obtain sensitive data from smart devices, potentially revealing technical details of the device or its running applications, the type of operating system it’s running, information about your home network environment, or any other user-specific data.

Although the severity of this type of vulnerability is relatively low, obtaining a lot of detailed information about the actual device can help attackers find vulnerabilities that he can remotely exploit to take remote control of the IoT. For instance, by learning the type of operating system the device is running, a cybercriminal can then search for known but unpatched vulnerabilities that he can remotely leverage to compromise the smart device.

If successful, information gathering can also help hackers gain a detailed understating of your home network topography – or infrastructure – in order to plan their attack more effectively. While personal information about users, such as name, address, location, or authentication credentials are valuable, the prospect of potentially affecting other network connected devices is more appealing.

This type of information gathering vulnerability is usually caused by programming errors within the operating system or the smart device’s firmware and can only be fixed by the device’s manufacturer or the device’s software provider. Since users are powerless against this type of vulnerability, it’s always recommended to constantly check for new software of firmware updates for your smart devices, as they may contain patches and fixes that can address known vulnerabilities.

Having devices and software up to date reduces the risk of hackers gaining access to your private and personal data. It also ensures that known vulnerabilities cannon be abused by cybercriminals to both compromise your IoT and move infect other home network devices, such as laptops, smartphones, or desktops that all share the same network.

Having a home network cybersecurity solution that can constantly check if your smart devices are always up to date with the latest updates and fixes is more than recommended, especially since it can also asses the overall security or vulnerability state of all network connected devices, while keeping cybersecurity at bay.

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