Why Securing IoT Device Data?

IoT device data may be exposed to varying security threats during transmission and storage stages. Figure 13.1 shows data exchange between the device and the cloud, where the cloud sends data to the device, and the device receives and stores the data in its flash memory. To ensure data security and compliance with confidentiality, integrity, and legitimacy, encrypted HTTPS protocol is commonly used for data transmission. However, there is still a possibility that malicious actors could compromise data security by potentially engaging in the following actions:

  • Compromising data confidentiality, such as using esptool.py to read the data in the flash and steal the device ID and Wi-Fi password.

  • Compromising data integrity, such as erasing user login data from the device's flash, tampering with network certificates, or implanting programs that collect user information. This kind of attack which embeds malicious code into a source code is called code injection attack.

  • Compromising data legitimacy, such as forging the cloud server and sending illegal data to the device, or eavesdropping on a secure network communication, and then resending the login information to the device to log in and control device. The attack that undermines the data legitimacy by "replaying" stolen data is called a replay attack.

Figure 13.1 shows the security risks that the device may face when exchanging data with the cloud.

Figure 13.1. Security risks when exchanging data with cloud

As we can see, device data security cannot be guaranteed unless proper measures are taken. In real-world applications, threats to IoT devices are much more complex than those discussed above. As IoT devices often communicate with other devices and some may operate in unattended environments, it becomes easier for malicious actors to obtain, analyse, or tamper with the device's data. Therefore, ensuring data security has become a more urgent requirement.