What Could Go Wrong if IoT is not Tested Properly?
- July 28, 2020
- Sania Amir
As envisaged by Gartner, there would be more than 6.4 million number of devices enabled by the Internet of Things to be used by customers in 2016, whereas, the number is expected to reach 20 million by the year 2026. The IoT industry is experiencing a boom, thanks to the wide-ranging application and versatility of its aspects across many industries. In fact, it is predicted that by the year 2022, the global revenue generated by the IoT system would come up to around $561 million. However, given the wide reach of IoT systems, from smartphones and self-driving cars to smart refrigerators that automatically place orders to your supermarkets, pose a great challenge to organizations. Therefore, despite the immense potential and opportunity for rapid growth, the IoT industry is plagued by the testing and quality assurance issues. As a result of bugs and defects which are prevalent in the IoT devices, companies are spending millions of dollars every year to recall and fix defective devices. The significance of quality assurance and testing processes can be derived from the high costs incurred by software bugs; in fact, research states that companies are set to spend around $10 million for recalling bug-infested software devices between the years 2018 and 2022.
Key Challenges for IoT Platforms
Test coverage is one of the primary challenges faced by companies implementing IoT solutions today. Every IoT device is unique, with its own hardware, and relies on different software to drive it, not to mention the various operating systems, networks, environments, and firmware. Given that there are so many variants of software and hardware of devices floating around in the consumer market, it is next to impossible to test all potential combinations. The fragmentation and diversity of the smartphone market, there are a lot of options available for users in terms of models, brands, versions of OS, screen sizes, orientations, and many other aspects. This makes it difficult for the companies to build IoT systems which are compatible for all possible devices and operating systems as they cannot take all the above-mentioned factors into account. However, the commercial success of IoT enabled devices is contingent on this, and it is categorically essential for organizations to test the IoT system across as many devices as possible to uncover any potential vulnerabilities and bugs in the system that might obscure the high performance and user experience. With the adept testing process and strategies at hand, the efficacy of the quality assurance procedure is watered down by insufficient test coverage.
IoT, at its core, is a nexus of devices and software which are connected together to facilitate the easy flow of pertinent information and data. Therefore, the key to the quality performance and usability of the IoT system is the connectivity, either through a Bluetooth connection or a Wi-Fi connection. This is especially challenging for IoT devices as staying connected to a network or another device consistently is complex. If any of the devices in the network face a connection issue, the flow and exchange of information across the network would be hindered which would, in turn, render the whole IoT system useless.
In case, the IoT system is not tested thoroughly and meticulously, many bugs and defects could be left undetected and would be passed to the end product. This does not bode well for the brand image or the sustainability of the application/device on the customer’s choice list. Therefore, testing IoT enabled systems entails more than simple testing of the application on one device; instead testing under varying conditions, multiple devices, and differed operating systems is necessitated to uncover potential vulnerabilities and hidden defects in the system.
Although new and innovative digital technologies like IoT bring ultimate convenience for the customers and previously inconceivable goals closer for the organizations, it’s a double-edged sword. It introduces new attack vector points in the system which may give threat actors illegal access into the system. This puts the IoT systems at a serious security risk; in fact, there is more than 70 percent of IoT devices in the market which are currently vulnerable to security and malware issues.
Penetration Testing for Addressing IoT System Challenges
In an effort to cater to all the concerns and issues of the IoT enabled devices, assessments, and exploitation of various companies are performed by penetration testing companies for a high-quality end product. A typical penetration testing engagement entails, understanding the scope of the project, mapping the entire attack surface of the solution, which is followed by identification of vulnerabilities in the system and the execution of exploitation strategy, and lastly, the whole process is concluded by a comprehensive, in-depth technical assessment report.
The most important part of the process that is used by the penetration testing companies in the attack surface mapping of the solution. It allows the testers to map out all possible entry points and exit points which can potentially be utilized by threat actors for illegal access and malicious use in the IoT system. With an effective penetration test that is primarily focused on securing and improving the quality of the IoT system, the following vulnerabilities can be identified.
- Lack of Device Management
- Insecure interface of the ecosystem
- Insufficient protection of the privacy of data
- Insecurity in the flow of the information and data transfer
- Lack of physical hardening
- Weak password security
- Lack of secure mechanisms for regular updates
- Inadequate security for default settings
Using the services of penetration testing companiesis one of the best ways of identifying gaps in the security system before an internal or external attacker does. The wide and far-reaching network of the IoT system is thoroughly tested and combed through from the perspective of an attacker to leverage all possible vulnerabilities. Therefore, in the rapidly growing market, it is of utmost importance for the companies to perform diligent and advanced IoT penetration tests to protect the interests of the organization.