4 Ways Application Security Testing Can Help Overcome IoT Threats?

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In simpler, internet-less times, looting banks required physical presence of masked, gun-bearing robbers. If banks were proactive enough, they could take down the robbers and prevent the loot with tight security force or hamper an ongoing robbery by calling in additional help.

Nowadays, with internet practically ruling our lives, robbing a bank has become easier while securing it has become a real headache. Amidst the millions of interconnected IoT devices, identifying the weak nodes has emerged as one of the biggest challenges. Without knowing what to secure, how will the security strategy work?

Security, in every possible aspect, always remains a pressing concern, requiring immediate, unwavering addressal from the designated authorities. Despite several occurrences of security breaches, IoT devices do not enjoy the much-deserved attention from their manufacturers. Looking at this laid-back attitude, now the governments across the globe are taking over the reins of IoT security.

The bipartisan U.S. senate and house members recently reintroduced an IoT security focused bill to pass “IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2019”. This Act is supposed to take care of the insecurities affecting IoT devices worldwide. The Japanese government is taking preemptive measures to fortify IoT devices ahead of the Olympics games to be held next year. It will take the help of White-hat hackers to attempt to penetrate over 200 million devices to discover insecure devices. With the direct involvement of regulatory bodies, IoT manufacturers will, apprehensively or willingly, divert their eyes as well as budgets to the security frameworks.

Why the Delay in Addressal?

Let’s just deal with the elephant in the room – great security does not come cheap. It is practically impossible for IoT manufacturers to incorporate excellent security without passing the cost on to the end users, making the overall product expensive and out of reach of majority. The tech industry is proliferating with innovative startups. With limited funding in hand, they primarily push to release their product to the market as soon as possible. In this entire hustle of faster product release and Agile SDLCs, security takes a back seat. Taking an approach of ‘we’ll deal with it when it comes’, IoT security is often tackled in a reactive manner instead of being embedded in to the core of the product life cycle.

Such retrospect dealing may seem to be working in short term, but it is not viable. Releasing a feeble product that is highly prone to security breach can be more damaging to both reputation and funds as compared to delayed release of a completely fortified, optimally-performing product.

Why IoT Devices Face Security Issues?

IoT revolution is rather new for everyone from manufacturers to end users, which is why there is a lack of experience and thorough knowledge about the technology. There is an absence of proper regulations around manufacturing, deployment, and use of IoT devices. Also, with continuous innovations and constant updates, it becomes difficult for organizations to upgrade the security framework.

From physical tampering to password attacks, malicious node injections, and firmware hijacking, IoT devices are extremely vulnerable to breaches and therefore, make for preferred penetration gateway for hackers. It is rather difficult to identify all the weak links among the billions of IoT devices, but there are a few issues that should be addressed to tighten the security.

The California IoT Cybersecurity law has mandated incorporation of ‘reasonable’ security features in any device that connects to the internet, directly or indirectly. Taking care of insufficient authentication systems in most IoT devices, the law has been signed to ensure prevention of unauthorized access and compromise of sensitive information. The shift to cloud and web-based interface has also opened new opportunities for hackers to infiltrate the device. Most IoT devices employ insecure network services, inadequate security configurability and unprotected firmware.

What should be the action plan for ensuring IoT safety?

It is not feasible to embattle all the possible nodes which might become the access window for hackers. Therefore, it is essential that IoT manufacturers prioritize the security concerns by keeping personal safety on top. Manufacturers are required to devise a detailed review process to detect vulnerabilities and then take apt measures to fight them. They should put down stringent regulations and security standards to be adhered to during manufacturing process. Once, these regulations are implemented, continuous monitoring is required of all the protected nodes. Application security testing should be integrated in the product life cycle in order to be prepared in advance for any potential breach. Moreover, methods should be devised and implemented to identify a breach and respond to it on an immediate basis.

4 ways Application Security Testing can fight IoT insecurities

Instead of being an afterthought, security should be the driving factor in the manufacturing process of an IoT device. Application security testing, when integrated into the product life cycle from the beginning, can effectively safeguard a device against potential risks and threats.

  1. Get a holistic view: With application security testing embedded from the initial stages, the security aspect is taken care at every step. Therefore, instead of going back to detect any flaky behavior after the cycle is ended, application security testing enables the developers to identify threats and address them on the spot.
  2. Monitor compliance: Automated application security testing can keep track of non-compliant devices in an IoT network, alerting the developers to restrict access to them.
  3. Quarantine devices for anomalous behavior: Any malicious behavior can be quickly discovered with the help of application security testing.
  4. Continuous supervision: Post-implementation of security firewalls and mitigation plans, application security testing continuously monitors the IoT network for breach attempts or penetrations and alerts the concerned authorities for remedial actions whenever required.

To Conclude

Securing an IoT network is anything but easy and cheap. It requires delegation of a disciplined action plan to protect and monitor billions of interconnected devices. Impregnation of a single device may cause compromise of other connected nodes as well. It is imperative that critical personal information assets are identified and isolated from the network in order to prevent serious damage in case of a breach. Measures such as two-factor authentication, setting unique passwords, and installation of firewalls have become a necessity. While application security testing enables a proactive approach to IoT threats, taking these steps grants additional protection.

Cigniti possesses rich expertise in Security Testing of enterprise applications, catering to diversified business needs and serving clients across different industry verticals and organization sizes. Our Web application security testing uncovers vulnerabilities in applications and ensures the application risks are minimized.

Connect with us to leverage a dedicated Security Testing Center of Excellence (TCoE) that has developed methodologies, processes, templates, checklists, and guidelines for web applications, software products, networks, and cloud.