IoT devices are any and all devices connected to the internet. IoT devices used in households have grown tremendously over the last decade. We’ve progressed from having a couple of laptop/desktop devices per household to owning WiFi-enabled doorbells, air conditioning systems, security systems, and even internet-enabled fridges and ovens.
Sounds cool, right? The wide range of these futuristic devices is now accessible to most households. This has made it easy for hackers to find vulnerabilities and breach security systems without complicated software or computing.
Hence, the downside of the increased use of IoT devices is the increased vulnerability that’s found its way into thousands of households worldwide. Here’s how a recent event shed light on the vulnerability of modern IoT devices.
Recently Discovered DNS-Related Vulnerability
Cybersecurity researchers have recently discovered an unpatched vulnerability that affects IoT products of different kinds. In tech-savvy language, the threat affects the DNS (Domain Name System) implementation of uClibc and uClibc-ng, two of the most popular C libraries used within Linux systems.
Given that the largest distributors in the IoT industry rely on uCilbc (such as Linksys and Axis), this vulnerability can potentially affect millions of IoT devices that are already in use across the globe.
Nozomi Networks’ Giannis Tsaraias and Andrea Palanca addressed the issue in a recent write-up. They said that “the flaw is caused by the predictability of transaction IDs included in the DNS requests generated by the library, which may allow attackers to perform DNS poisoning attacks against the target device.”
When translated to simple language, DNS poisoning refers to corrupting a DNS resolver cache, redirecting users to malicious websites, and creating a security threat for every user in this spiral.
The recently discovered bug can increase MitM or man-in-the-middle attacks that allow hackers to reroute internet traffic to whichever server they want. That means they can redirect users to any website they’re targeting to crash their servers, disrupt their work, and make room for a data breach. Once that happens, attackers can easily steal and manipulate data and perform a variety of attacks to compromise devices and networks.
What Can Be Done?
Believe it or not, you, as the singular user of the worldwide web, can take action to prevent a small fraction of these DNS attacks. How? By protecting your device from becoming compromised and controlled by groups of hackers with malicious intentions. If every web user implemented security measures consistently, the number of these attacks would be far more limited than it is today.
Here’s what you can do. Find the best VPN service on the market and invest in a small monthly subscription to protect your data and devices from outside threats. The way a VPN or virtual private network works is simple. All you have to do is connect your device to a distant server (it’s easier than it sounds), and your traffic/personal data will be fully encrypted and hidden from third parties.
In other words, a VPN can make you invisible to potential threat actors online, which will significantly reduce the risk of being affected by cybersecurity attacks. Other measures you can implement include strengthening your passwords (perhaps investing in a password management tool) and cleaning up old and inactive accounts, as these can serve as back doors to your data.
Adopt Cybersecurity Habits
Implementing simple security measures can make a huge difference in the trajectory of cybersecurity attacks. The good news is that protecting individual devices is not as difficult as it may seem. A simple VPN subscription can make a lot of difference, to begin with.
Pair that with proper password management and general awareness of potential online scams, and you’ll be good to go. When it comes to companies or smaller organizations, cybersecurity depends highly on whether or not the employees are educated in the cybersecurity field. Invest in education and raise awareness about potential threats to drive change.
Rachel Maga is a technology journalist currently working at Globe Live Media agency. She has been in the Technology Journalism field for over 5 years now. Her life’s biggest milestone is the inside tour of Tesla Industries, which was gifted to her by the legend Elon Musk himself.