VPN for IoT Devices: Why is it Necessary?

You’re exposed to an array of security risks every time you connect a device to the internet, whether it’s a car, a security camera, or a basic desktop. That device might be used at work, at home, or both, but there’s always the possibility of business or personal data slipping into the wrong hands.

Due to their unsecured nature, Internet of Things (IoT) devices are vulnerable to various attacks that can be devastating for organizations and individuals alike. In this article, we’ll go over some of the most prevalent IoT security concerns and how they can be mitigated through the use of a VPN on your router.

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Common IoT Security Risks

According to cybersecurity and anti-virus provider Kaspersky, cyberattacks on IoT devices doubled in the first half of 2021. Kaspersky reported that there were 1.51 billion breaches of IoT devices from January to June this year, up from 639 million in 2020.

The motive for these attacks usually includes extortion, retaliation, protest, and showmanship, to name a few. Let’s take a look at some of the most common IoT security threats that you can handle with a VPN:

Botnets

Botnets love IoT devices because they’re easy to hack and don’t have an anti-virus layer like computers or mobile devices. A botnet is a collection of compromised internet-connected devices that a hacker can use to carry out large-scale attacks, like DDoS attacks on a massive scale.

DDoS attacks often entail flooding a network with traffic, causing it to overflow. One of the biggest IoT DDoS attacks took place in 2016 when the domain name system (DNS) provider Dyn was compromised. More than 100,000 IoT devices were infected by the Mirai virus as a result of the incident, which were used to build a botnet and disrupt the company’s services.

MitM

A Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack is based on an unauthorized third-party intercepting communication and gaining access to information. These attacks are a great technique for cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive data and potentially steal user accounts. Whether the victim is an individual or an organization, such a breach can have disastrous consequences. 

MITM attacks are particularly successful against IoT devices that usually aren’t adequately secured by the manufacturer. This emphasizes the need of encrypting traffic so that it can’t be read in transit—even if it’s intercepted.

ISP & Government Spying

When all of your devices are connected to the internet (including IoT gadgets), Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and government organizations have access to a massive amount of information about you. 

They can trace all of your online activity because IP addresses are visible and traffic is unprotected. Another reason to encrypt all of your communications is to protect your privacy from snooping eyes.

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How Does a VPN Help?

The widespread use of VPNs across IoT networks could make those networks far more resilient than they are now. When a device connects to a VPN, all traffic to and from that device is encrypted. Even if someone intercepted network communications, they would be unable to understand it.

By masking the user’s IP address, a VPN can assist in defending against DDoS attacks, making it more difficult for hackers to conduct a targeted attack.

Using only HTTPS sites to avoid MITM attacks is one of the greatest defenses since HTTPS sites provide encryption. However, adding an extra layer of protection via a VPN is even better. This way, you’ll always know that all traffic is encrypted and therefore unreadable by third parties.

The same applies to spying at the hands of ISPs and governments. They won’t be able to inspect your traffic or track where it’s going. Only encrypted traffic to and from a VPN server would be visible to them.

How to Secure Your IoT Devices with a VPN

The great majority of IoT devices you use will not be compatible with VPN software on their own. With a VPN-compatible wireless router, you can set your VPN to connect through it and, as a result, automatically secure all the devices on your network using the encryption provided by your VPN provider.

Once you get a VPN-compatible router, go to your VPN provider’s website for instructions on how to set up a VPN connection through your router. Most providers offer simple-to-follow configuration guides on how to set up and connect to the VPN via your router.

Wrapping Things Up

Until IoT manufacturers up their security game, companies and individuals must take the necessary measures to stay safe against attacks and keep their sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. Using a VPN is a critical component of that security jigsaw as it allows you to prevent a variety of threats.

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