The importance of IoT penetration testing

Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices are an unexpected source of intense and preventable security breaches, and it’s time they get the penetration testing treatment just like other hardware. Why is it essential to give IoT devices special treatment and how can companies defend them successfully?

What is IoT penetration testing?

An IoT penetration test is the assessment and exploitation of various components present in an IoT device solution to help make the device more secure.

The first step of IoT penetration testing is to map the entire attack surface of the solution, followed by identifying vulnerabilities and performing exploitation, followed by post exploitation. The testing concludes with an in-depth technical report providing insights into the risks, and of course suggestions for remediations.

What’s the Importance of Penetration Testing for IoT?

As IoT devices rely on connectivity, their utility crumbles in the face of a threat actor or power outage. Because such devices are growing in popularity at a rapid pace, security professionals are presented with growing challenges and a need to provide as much assurance as possible in this space. Since IoT devices connect from countless routing points, servers, and regions, few connections are reliably the same meaning there is a larger scope for attacks.

Penetration testing of IoT devices reveals unknown security gaps as trustworthy professionals simulate the techniques of malicious actors. They dig through firmware and hardware for vulnerabilities and accessibility oversights.

Testers get inside the mind of a hacker, trying to find sneaky ways into systems, tease out the most valuable exploits and extract the most priceless information. Analysts need to perform these tests — especially with rising technologies like IoT — so their reputation for being insecure and modern technologies quickly dissolves.

1. Identify Security Vulnerabilities

Security vulnerabilities vary from hidden back doors to out-of-date software and firmware with default passwords, which is why you need to know which pathways could impact systems the most. For instance, if your organisation uses IoT systems, the level of risk can increase since these are some of the most overlooked networked devices when it comes to cybersecurity.

IoT devices are sometimes mobile and can connect and disconnect at any given moment. Therefore, security teams may lose track of their usage and even avoid mentioning them in reports.

This doesn’t mean your organisation should not use IoT systems or devices. Like most widely adopted technologies, the use of IoT devices can bring a wide range of benefits, however, it also comes with a need for enhanced cybersecurity measures. Where, you can use penetration testing in combination with AI-powered security tools to determine if any of your users are engaging in risky or malicious behaviour.

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2. Improve Security Posture

The great thing about penetration testing is that there’s no one single way to do it. There are different types of testing you can apply, and specialists recommend combining several different methods to get the best results.

Diversity of penetration testing methods is what keeps your organisations data secure and help improve the company’s security posture. That’s because different methods produce different results, which, when combined, provide decision-makers with a well-detailed map of the company’s weak areas.

3. Complying with Regulations

Cyber security regulations help organisations understand different security standards and push for a more secure business environment. This is why many of these regulations require organisations to undertake regular penetration testing and audit their IT systems to ensure compliance.

Failure to comply will often lead to a data leak, which can follow to a fine and an investigation into the business’s cybersecurity practices and decreased customer confidence.

4. Reduced Costs

Penetration testing can help reduce costs in the long term as any identified vulnerabilities can be addressed before outsider ill-intended entities will discover and exploit them. It’s also a good way to get your employees used to the idea of always being on the lookout for suspicious activity and taking everything with a grain of salt when it comes to dealing with people online.

However, this shouldn’t be used as an excuse to forgo cybersecurity training sessions, which also need to be an ongoing occurrence. Combining a good security system with well-trained employees, the security posture will improve significantly.

Top 3 IoT Security Testing Tools

It is essential to perform IoT security testing to ensure that your device is not part of the next big hack. The following are the top 3 IoT security testing tools: 

    • Firmware Analysis ToolkitFAT is built to help security researchers analyse and identify vulnerabilities in IoT and embedded device firmware.
    • PENIOTPENIOT is a penetration testing tool for the IoT devices. It helps you test/penetrate your devices by targeting their internet connectivity with different types of security attacks.
    • AWS IoT Device DefenderAWS IoT Device Defender is a fully managed service that helps organisations protect their fleet of IoT devices from external threats. AWS IoT Device Defender gives you the ability to monitor your fleet of IoT devices’ health continuously and detect and remediate potential threats.