Protect Your Smart Devices: A Breakdown of the Top 5 IoT Cyber Attacks

Sindhu P   

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies to connect and exchange data with other devices, systems, and humans over the Internet.

IoT devices can be split into two categories:

The first category is tailored to the end user, focused on daily consumption, and designed to be supported by simple applications.

The second category includes devices used by the business sector, also known as Industrial IoT (IIoT), specifically designed to achieve better business efficiency.

The Research by Check Point showed a sharp increase in cyberattacks targeting IoT Devices.

  • The first two months of 2023 have seen a 41% increase in the average number of weekly attacks per organization targeting IoT devices, compared to 2022
  • On average, every week 54% of organizations suffer from attempted cyber-attacks targeting IoT devices
  • The most targeted industries by IoT threats are Healthcare, Automobile, Retail, Agriculture and Municipal Infrastructure.


The Internet of Things (IoT) has become an integral part of our daily lives. However, with the growing use of IoT devices, there has been an increase in cyberattacks against these devices in recent years, using various exploitable vulnerabilities.

Cybercriminals are aware that IoT devices are notoriously one of the most vulnerable parts of the networks, which are properly not secured or managed.

Therefore, it’s essential to be aware of the top IoT cyber-attacks and steps to protect your devices and data.

Top 5 IoT Cyber Threats Organizations Must be Aware of

1. Industrial Espionage and Eavesdropping

Espionage and eavesdropping are two significant IoT cyber threats that can compromise the confidentiality of sensitive information. It involves unauthorized access to data transmitted between connected devices and networks, enabling malicious actors to extract valuable information for their gain.

Espionage is the act of obtaining sensitive information from a person, group, or government without their consent. It is conducted by hackers who aim to steal trade secrets, intellectual property, or other valuable data from a targeted organization. These can occur by exploiting vulnerabilities in IoT devices, including cameras, sensors, and other smart devices that are not adequately secured.

Eavesdropping involves listening to or intercepting communications between connected devices. This attack is carried out by attackers who aim to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, login credentials, or other personal data. In many cases, this type of attack is enabled by exploiting vulnerabilities in the communication protocols used by IoT devices, allowing the attacker to intercept and collect data as it travels between devices.

2. Ransomware Attacks

One of the most likely IoT cyber-attack in 2023 is the growing threat of ransomware attacks.

These attacks have serious consequences for individuals and organizations. It uses malware to encrypt a victim's data and demand payment in exchange for the decryption key.

The challenge with IoT ransomware attacks is that many IoT devices are not designed with security in mind and may not have adequate security controls to prevent an attack. Additionally, these devices are not regularly updated with security patches, leaving them vulnerable to known exploits that can be leveraged by attackers.

3. Shadow IoT

Shadow IoT is a growing IoT cyber threat that can compromise the security of an organization's network and data.

It refers to IoT devices that are not managed or authorized by an organization's IT department and are frequently brought in by employees or other stakeholders without proper vetting or security measures.

Shadow IoT devices can include anything from personal fitness trackers to smart home devices.

One of the major challenges with this is that they can be difficult to identify and manage. Because they are not authorized or managed by the organization, they may not be visible on the organization's network, making it difficult for IT departments to identify and mitigate potential security risks.

4. Botnet Attacks

Botnet attacks involve the use of a network of infected IoT devices, also known as a botnet, to carry out large-scale attacks on targeted systems or networks.

IoT devices are particularly vulnerable to botnet attacks because they are often connected to the internet and have little to no security.

Without the device owner's knowledge, hackers can use these devices to infect them with malware and add them to their botnet.

One famous example of a Botnet attack was the 2016 Mirai incident, where IP cams and NVRs were used as bots to launch DDoS attacks against Dyn, an Internet performance and management company. The result was a shutdown of services across various famous sites, including Amazon, the Financial Times, and Netflix.

5. Lack of IoT Security Awareness

The IoT is a relatively recent technology, and users may not have the necessary knowledge to use it safely. As a result, they may struggle to understand the functionality of their IoT devices, which can make it challenging to identify potential compromises.

Due to this lack of awareness, hackers may exploit users by carrying out social engineering attacks. These attacks use psychological manipulation to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information or taking actions that could harm their security.

As the use of IoT devices continues to grow in 2023, social engineering attacks are likely to become more frequent. Therefore, it is essential for IoT users to receive education about the associated risks and learn how to protect themselves from potential threats.

How to Protect IoT Devices and Networks against Cyber Attacks

  • Regularly update firmware and software on IoT devices to ensure that they are equipped with the latest security patches and features.
  • Create unique and strong passwords for all IoT devices and networks. Avoid using default or easily guessable passwords
  • Separating networks for IT and IoT when possible.
  • Utilize encryption protocols to protect data transmitted between IoT devices and networks.
  • Turn off any unnecessary features or services on IoT devices to limit potential vulnerabilities.
  • Use network monitoring tools to detect and respond to any suspicious activity.
  • Regularly assess the security of IoT devices and networks to identify potential weaknesses and address them proactively.
  • Provide education and awareness to IoT device users about potential cyber threats and how to protect against them.