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  • Writer's pictureRichard Blech

6 Vulnerabilities that Make IoT and IIoT Devices Insecure

IoT and IIoT are used to move field data into cloud systems so that the data can be managed and shared among numerous users and applications. With an estimated 15 billion IoT devices expected to be connected to enterprise infrastructures by 2029, organizations across all industries can efficiently address industry problems using analytics, machine learning and advanced sensors.

This proliferation of smart devices and technologies has created an environment in which the devices are in constant communication with one another at all times. It is also creating security risks that have to be mitigated.


The vulnerabilities in IoT and IIoT devices need to be fully understood because all those devices can be weaponized to launch cyber attacks. With the increasing connectivity to OT systems, cyberattackers are expected to escalate their attacks on critical infrastructures. Attacks against other targets are not expected to wane either.

The many benefits of the devices cannot be fully realized unless organizations recognize and address the security risks posed by IoT and IoTT hardware and software, as well as use the right cybersecurity solutions to protect the devices, networks and data.

1. Mediocre Device Management

Managing a IoT or IIoT device using proper security support throughout its lifecycle can be a significant security challenge, but is essential to being able to secure the network. The device should be properly and securely identified, updated, monitored and decommissioned. To eliminate the introduction of risks associated with counterfeit devices into IoT systems, it is also essential to ensure that devices are authentic before they are allowed to access an IoT or IIoT network.

2. Vulnerable Communication Protocols on Insecure Networks.

Organizations use many auxiliary devices to execute and manage their processes. For example, IIoT devices such as controllers, actuators and sensors are used in industrial facilities to execute and manage physical processes. These devices are connected and controlled by communications protocols. However, it is highly unlikely that security was a priority when the mechanisms were designed and manufactured. They cannot be used for authentication or to detect atypical behavior. These insecure networks, particularly those that are connected to the Internet, are ideal attack vectors for malicious actors.

Communications using secure protocols that can ensure the encryption of all data and commands moving through these devices cannot be intercepted or manipulated is fundamental to protecting IoT and IIoT. XSOC CORP’s EBP, with it superfast transmission speeds and quantum-safe symmetric encryption security can be embedded to facilitate secure transmissions, offering a secure alternative TSL, DTLS, SSH and other conventional security protocols are commonly used to secure Ethernet-based communications in IoT and IIoT devices but are unable to quickly transmit large quantities of data.

3. Inadequate Modernization.

This can be particularly true for IIoT environments. It is in not uncommon for machines used in industrial facilities to have archaic hardware components or outdated software with known vulnerabilities. Patching of software and firmware that can rectify vulnerabilities is not a viable option for many legacy machines, and some upgrade cycles can take years to complete, significantly impacting operations in the meantime. In cases in which the legacy devices can be upgraded with IoT to address the growing demand for operation analytics, the upgrades may occur without applying the proper cybersecurity solutions, such as a secure key transfer mechanism that can help protect the data moving through the new endpoint. This means that those now-online and connected machines are exposed to hackers scanning the Internet for the IP addresses of vulnerable devices.

4. Insufficient Physical Hardening

IoT and IIoT devices are not always contained in controlled environments. They are in use, out in the field and being used to conduct enterprise operations. The tampering and manipulation of the physical layer of the deployed devices is one way attackers can disrupt the services executed by the devices. The protection of networks requires the protection of all levels of the network, including the physical layer.

Organizations have to ensure that the IoT devices and hardware are safe from tampering, physical access, manipulation, and sabotage. They also have to ensure that encryption solutions are in place so that if the physical layer of a device is breached successfully, the data contained on the device cannot be accessed.

5. Expanded Attack Surfaces.

The growing number of connected devices contributes to the scattered and fragmented nature of IoT and IIoT ecosystems. The systems can be spread across multiple facilities at various locations with numerous machines moving data in and out of various applications and cloud systems, a complexity that contributes to the difficulty of accurately mapping the complete attack surface of an IoT/IIoT environment. Not only do hackers have a larger attack surface to work with, they also have more physical proximity to the enterprise devices.

6. Insecure Default Settings

The default settings on IoT and IIoT devices, which can be hardcoded in and not amenable to modifications, can serve as easy gateways for attackers. Understanding the security gaps these settings create is necessary for implementing the appropriate controls or integrating the right encryption and cryptography solutions that can help protect the data in the devices.


According to one report, device encryption is one of the top security and network technologies organizations are using to help secure IoT and IIoT devices and ecosystems. To obtain optimal security, hardened encryption and privacy controls have to protect all data points from the instant the data is created by the IoT or IIoT device and have to travel with it where it goes in the system. Get in touch with us at XSOC CORP to learn how our encryption and cryptography solutions can help protect the data that moves among an organization, users and any third-parties with authorized access to the data.


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