For this assignment, review the attached research article “Cyber Security and the Internet of Things: Vulnerabilities, Threats, Intruders and Attacks” and evaluate it in 2 pages or less (700 words), using your own words, by addressing the following:What did the authors investigate, and in general how did they do so?Identify the hypothesis or question being testedSummarize the overall article.Identify the conclusions of the authorsindicate whether or not you think the data support their conclusions/hypothesisconsider alternative explanations for the resultsProvide any additional comments pertaining to other approaches to testing their hypothesis -logical follow-up studies to build on, confirm or refute the conclusions The article you use must be at least 3 pages long and be a primary or original research article.The relevance or importance of the studyThe appropriateness of the experimental design When you write your evaluation be brief and concise, this is not meant to be an essay but an objective evaluation that one can read very easily and quickly. Also, you should include a complete reference (title, authors, journal, issue, pages) and a photocopy of the article when you turn in your evaluation.Cyber Security and the Internet of Things:
Vulnerabilities, Threats, Intruders
and Attacks
Mohamed Abomhara and Geir M. Køien
Department of Information and Communication Technology,
University of Agder, Norway
Corresponding Authors: {Mohamed.abomhara; geir.koien}
Received 14 September 2014; Accepted 17 April 2015;
Publication 22 May 2015
Internet of Things (IoT) devices are rapidly becoming ubiquitous while IoT
services are becoming pervasive. Their success has not gone unnoticed and
the number of threats and attacks against IoT devices and services are on the
increase as well. Cyber-attacks are not new to IoT, but as IoT will be deeply
interwoven in our lives and societies, it is becoming necessary to step up
and take cyber defense seriously. Hence, there is a real need to secure IoT,
which has consequently resulted in a need to comprehensively understand the
threats and attacks on IoT infrastructure. This paper is an attempt to classify
threat types, besides analyze and characterize intruders and attacks facing IoT
devices and services.
Keywords: Internet of Things, Cyber-attack, Security threats.
1 Introduction
The recent rapid development of the Internet of Things (IoT) [1, 2] and its
ability to offer different types of services have made it the fastest growing
technology, with huge impact on social life and business environments. IoT has
Journal of Cyber Security, Vol. 4, 65–88.
doi: 10.13052/jcsm2245-1439.414
c 2015 River Publishers. All rights reserved.

66 M. Abomhara and G. M. Køien
gradually permeated all aspects of modern human life, such as education,
healthcare, and business, involving the storage of sensitive information about
individuals and companies, financial data transactions, product development
and marketing.
The vast diffusion of connected devices in the IoT has created enormous
demand for robust security in response to the growing demand of millions or
perhaps billions of connected devices and services worldwide [3–5].
The number of threats is rising daily, and attacks have been on the increase
in both number and complexity. Not only is the number of potential attackers
along with the size of networks growing, but the tools available to potential
attackers are also becoming more sophisticated, efficient and effective [6, 7].
Therefore, for IoT to achieve fullest potential, it needs protection against
threats and vulnerabilities [8].
Security has been defined as a process to protect an object against physical
damage, unauthorized access, theft, or loss, by maintaining high confidentiality and integrity of information about the object and making information about
that object available whenever needed [7, 9]. According to Kizza [7] there is no
thing as the secure state of any object, tangible or not, because no such object
can ever be in a perfectly secure state and still be useful. An object is secure if
the process can maintain its maximum intrinsic value under different conditions. Security requirements in the IoT environment are not different from any
other ICT systems. Therefore, ensuring IoT security requires maintaining the
highest intrinsic value of both tangible objects (devices) and intangible ones
(services, information and data).
This paper seeks to contribute to a better understanding of threats and their
attributes (motivation and capabilities) originating from various intruders like
organizations and intelligence. The process of identifying threats to systems
and system vulnerabilities is necessary for specifying a robust, complete set
of security requirements and also helps determine if the security solution is
secure against malicious attacks [10]. As well as users, governments and IoT
developers must ultimately understand the threats and have answers to the
following questions:
What are the assets?
Who are the principal entities?
What are the threats?
Who are the threat actors?
What capability and resource levels do threat actors have?
Which threats can affect what assets?
Cyber security and the Internet of Things 67
7. Is the current design protected against threats?
8. What security mechanisms could be used against threats?
The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. Section 2 provides a background, definitions, and the primary security and privacy goals.
Section 3 identifies some attacker motivations and capabilities, and provides
an outline of various sorts of threat actors. Finally, the paper concludes with
Section 4.
2 Background
The IoT [1, 2, 11] is an extension of the Internet into the physical world
for interaction with physical entities from the surroundings. Entities, devices
and services [12] are key concepts within the IoT domain, as depicted
in Figure 1 [13]. They have different meanings and definitions among
various projects. Therefore, it is necessary to have a good understanding of what IoT entities, devices and services are (discussed in detail in
Section 2.1).
An entity in the IoT could be a human, animal, car, logistic chain item,
electronic appliance or a closed or open environment [14]. Interaction among
Figure 1 IoT model: key concepts and interactions.
68 M. Abomhara and G. M. Køien
entities is made possible by hardware components called devices [12] such as
mobile phones, sensors, actuators or RFID tags, which allow the entities to
connect to the digital world [15].
In the current state of technology, Machine-to-Machine (M2M) is the
most popular application form of IoT. M2M is now widely employed in
power, transportation, retail, public service management, health, water, oil
and other industries to monitor and control the user, machinery and production
processes in the global industry and so on [5, 16, 17]. According to estimates
M2M applications will reach 12 billion connections by 2020 and generate
approximately 714 billion euros in revenues [2].
Besides all the IoT application benefits, several security threats are
observed [17–19]. The connected devices or machines are extremely valuable
to cyber-attackers for several reasons:
1. Most IoT devices operate unattended by humans, thus it is easy for an
attacker to physically gain access to them.
2. Most IoT components communicate over wireless networks where an
attacker could obtain confidential information by eavesdropping.
3. Most IoT components cannot support complex security schemes due to
low power and computing resource capabilities.
In addition, cyber threats could be launched against any IoT assets
and facilities, potentially causing damage or disabling system operation,
endangering the general populace or causing severe economic damage to
owners and users [20, 21]. Examples include attacks on home automation
systems and taking control of heating systems, air conditioning, lighting
and physical security systems. The information collected from sensors
embedded in heating or lighting systems could inform the intruder when
somebody is at home or out. Among other things, cyber-attacks could be
launched against any public infrastructure like utility systems (power systems or water treatment plants) [22] to stop water or electricity supply to
Security and privacy issues are a growing concern for users and suppliers
in their shift towards the IoT [23]. It is certainly easy to imagine the amount
of damage caused if any connected devices were attacked or corrupted.
It is well-recognized that adopting any IoT technology within our homes,
work, or business environments opens doors to new security problems. Users
and suppliers must consider and be cautious with such security and privacy
Cyber security and the Internet of Things 69
2.1 Understanding IoT Devices and Services
In this section, the main IoT domain concepts that are important from a
business process perspective are defined and classified, and the relationships
between IoT components (IoT devices and IoT services) are described.
2.1.1 IoT device
This is a hardware component that allows the entity to be a part of the digital
world [12]. It is also referred to as a smart thing, which can be a home appliance,
healthcare device, vehicle, building, factory and almost anything networked
and fitted with sensors providing information about the physical environment
(e.g., temperature, humidity, presence detectors, and pollution), actuators (e.g.,
light switches, displays, motor-assisted shutters, or any other action that a
device can perform) and embedded computers [24, 25].
An IoT device is capable of communicating with other IoT devices and ICT
systems. These devices communicate via different means including cellular
(3G or LTE), WLAN, wireless or other technologies [8]. IoT device classification depends on size, i.e., small or normal; mobility, i.e., mobile or fixed;
external or internal power source; whether they are connected intermittently
or always-on; automated or non-automated; logical or physical objects; and
lastly, whether they are IP-enabled objects or non IP objects.
The characteristics of IoT devices are their ability to actuate and/or
sense, the capability of limiting power/energy, connection to the physical
world, intermittent connectivity and mobility [23]. Some must be fast and
reliable and provide credible security and privacy, while others might not
[9]. A number of these devices have physical protection whereas others are
In fact, in IoT environments, devices should be protected against any
threats that can affect their functionality. However, most IoT devices are
vulnerable to external and internal attacks due to their characteristics [16].
It is challenging to implement and use a strong security mechanism due to
resource constraints in terms of IoT computational capabilities, memory, and
battery power [26].
2.1.2 IoT services
IoT services facilitate the easy integration of IoT entities into the serviceoriented architecture (SOA) world as well as service science [27]. According
to Thoma [28], an IoT service is a transaction between two parties: the service
provider and service consumer. It causes a prescribed function, enabling
70 M. Abomhara and G. M. Køien
interaction with the physical world by measuring the state of entities or by
initiating actions that will initiate a change to the entities.
A service provides a well-defined and standardized interface, offering all
necessary functionalities for interacting with entities and related processes.
The services expose the functionality of a device by accessing its hosted
resources [12].
2.1.3 Security in IoT devices and services
Ensuring the security entails protecting both IoT devices and services
from unauthorized access from within the devices and externally. Security should protect the services, hardware resources, information and data,
both in transition and storage. In this section, we identified three key
problems with IoT devices and services: data confidentiality, privacy and
Data confidentiality represents a fundamental problem in IoT devices
and services [27]. In IoT context not only user may access to data but also
authorized object. This requires addressing two important aspects: first, access
control and authorization mechanism and second authentication and identity
management (IdM) mechanism. The IoT device needs to be able to verify
that the entity (person or other device) is authorized to access the service.
Authorization helps determine if upon identification, the person or device is
permitted to receive a service. Access control entails controlling access to
resources by granting or denying means using a wide array of criteria. Authorization and access control are important to establishing a secure connection
between a number of devices and services. The main issue to be dealt with
in this scenario is making access control rules easier to create, understand
and manipulate. Another aspect that should be consider when dealing with
confidentiality is authentication and identity management. In fact this issue
is critical in IoT, because multiple users, object/things and devices need to
authenticate each other through trustable services. The problem is to find
solution for handling the identity of user, things/objects and devices in a secure
Privacy is an important issue in IoT devices and service on account of the
ubiquitous character of the IoT environment. Entities are connected, and data
is communicated and exchanged over the internet, rendering user privacy a
sensitive subject in many research works. Privacy in data collection, as well as
data sharing and management, and data security matters remain open research
issues to be fulfilled.
Cyber security and the Internet of Things 71
Trust plays an important role in establishing secure communication when a
number of things communicate in an uncertain IoT environment. Two dimensions of trust should be considered in IoT: trust in the interactions between
entities, and trust in the system from the users perspective [29] According
to Køien [9] the trustworthiness of an IoT device depends on the device
components including the hardware, such as processor, memory, sensors and
actuators, software resources like hardware-based software, operating system,
drivers and applications, and the power source. In order to gain user/services
trust, there should be an effective mechanism of defining trust in a dynamic
and collaborative IoT environment.
2.2 Security Threats, Attacks, and Vulnerabilities
Before addressing security threats, the system assets (system components)
that make up the IoT must first be identified. It is important to understand the
asset inventory, including all IoT components, devices and services.
An asset is an economic resource, something valuable and sensitive owned
by an entity. The principal assets of any IoT system are the system hardware
(include buildings, machinery, etc.) [11], software, services and data offered
by the services [30].
2.2.1 Vulnerability
Vulnerabilities are weaknesses in a system or its design that allow an intruder
to execute commands, access unauthorized data, and/or conduct denial-ofservice attacks [31, 32]. Vulnerabilities can be found in variety of areas in
the IoT systems. In particular, they can be weaknesses in system hardware
or software, weaknesses in policies and procedures used in the systems and
weaknesses of the system users themselves [7].
IoT systems are based on two main components; system hardware and
system software, and both have design flaws quite often. Hardware vulnerabilities are very difficult to identify and also difficult to fix even if the
vulnerability were identified due to hardware compatibility and interoperability and also the effort it take to be fixed. Software vulnerabilities can
be found in operating systems, application software, and control software
like communication protocols and devices drives. There are a number of
factors that lead to software design flaws, including human factors and
software complexity. Technical vulnerabilities usually happen due to human
weaknesses. Results of not understanding the requirements comprise starting
72 M. Abomhara and G. M. Køien
the project without a plan, poor communication between developers and users,
a lack of resources, skills, and knowledge, and failing to manage and control
the system [7].
2.2.2 Exposure
Exposure is a problem or mistake in the system configuration that allows
an attacker to conduct information gathering activities. One of the most
challenging issues in IoT is resiliency against exposure to physical attacks.
In the most of IoT applications, devices may be left unattended and likely
to be placed in location easily accessible to attackers. Such exposure raises
the possibility that an attacker might capture the device, extract cryptographic
secrets, modify their programming, or replace them with malicious device
under the control of the attacker [33].
2.2.3 Threats
A threat is an action that takes advantage of security weaknesses in a system
and has a negative impact on it [34]. Threats can originate from two primary
sources: humans and nature [35, 36]. Natural threats, such as earthquakes,
hurricanes, floods, and fire could cause severe damage to computer systems.
Few safeguards can be implemented against natural disasters, and nobody
can prevent them from happening. Disaster recovery plans like backup
and contingency plans are the best approaches to secure systems against
natural threats. Human threats are those caused by people, such as malicious
threats consisting of internal [37] (someone has authorized access) or external threats [38] (individuals or organizations working outside the network)
looking to harm and disrupt a system. Human threats are categorized into
the following:
• Unstructured threats consisting of mostly inexperienced individuals who
use easily available hacking tools.
• Structured threats as people know system vulnerabilities and can understand, develop and exploit codes and scripts. An example of a structured
threat is Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) [39]. APT is a sophisticated
network attack targeted at high-value information in business and government organizations, such as manufacturing, financial industries and
national defense, to steal data [40].
As IoT become a reality, a growing number of ubiquitous devices has
raise the number of the security threats with implication for the general
public. Unfortunately, IoT comes with new set of security threat. There are
Cyber security and the Internet of Things 73
a growing awareness that the new generation of smart-phone, computers and
other devices could be targeted with malware and vulnerable to attack.
2.2.4 Attacks
Attacks are actions taken to harm a system or disrupt normal operations by
exploiting vulnerabilities using various techniques and tools. Attackers launch
attacks to achieve goals either for personal satisfaction or recompense. The
measurement of the effort to be expended by an attacker, expressed in terms
of their expertise, resources and motivation is called attack cost [32]. Attack
actors are people who are a threat to the digital world [6]. They could be
hackers, criminals, or even governments [7]. Additional details are discussed
in Section 3.
An attack itself may come in many forms, including active network
attacks to monitor unencrypted traffic in search of sensitive information;
passive attacks such as monitoring unprotected network communications
to decrypt weakly encrypted traffic and getting authentication information;
close-in attacks; exploitation by insiders, and so on. Common cyber-attack
types are:
(a) Physical attacks: This sort of attack tampers with hardware components.
Due to the unattended and distributed nature of the IoT, most devices
typically operate in outdoor environments, which are highly susceptible
to physical attacks.
(b) Reconnaissance attacks – unauthorized discovery and mapping of systems, services, or vulnerabilities. Examples of reconnaissance attacks
are scanning network ports [41], packet sniffers [42], traffic analysis,
and sending queries about IP address information.
(c) Denial-of-service (DoS): This kind of attack is an attempt to make
a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users.
Due to low memory capabilities and limited computation resources,
the majority of devices in IoT are vulnerable to resource enervation
(d) Access attacks – unauthorized persons gain access to networks or devices
to which they have no right to access. There are two different types of
access attack: the first is physical access, whereby the intruder can gain
access to a physical device. The second is remote access, which is done
to IP-connected devices.
(e) Attacks on privacy: Privacy protection in IoT has become increasingly challenging due to large volumes of information easily available
74 M. Abomhara and G. M. Køien
through remote access mechanisms. The most common attacks on user
privacy are:
• Data mining: enables attackers to discover information that is not
anticipated in certain databases.
• Cyber espionage: using cracking techniques and malicious software
to spy or obtain secret information of individuals, organizations or
the government.
• Eavesdropping: listening to a conversation between two parties [43].
• Tracking: a users movements can be tracked by the devices unique
identification number (UID). Tracking a users location facilitates
identifying them in situations in which they wish to remain
• Password-based attacks: attempts are made by intruders to duplicate
a valid user password. This attempt can be made in two different
ways: 1) dictionary attack – trying possible combinations of letters
and numbers to guess user passwords; 2) brute force attacks – using
cracking tools to try all possible combinations of passwords to
uncover valid passwords.
(f) Cyber-crimes: The Internet and smart objects are used to exploit users
and data for materialistic gain, such as intellectual property theft, identity
theft, brand theft, and fraud [6, 7, 44].
(g) Destructive attacks: Space is used to create large-scale disruption and
destruction of life and property. Examples of destructive attacks are
terrorism and revenge attacks.
(h) Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) Attacks: As any
other TCP/IP systems, the SCADA [45] system is vulnerable to many
cyber attacks [46, 47]. The system can be attacked in any of the following
i. Using denial-of-service to shut down the system.
ii. Using Trojans or viruses to take control of the system. For instance,
in 2008 an attack launched on an Iranian nuclear facility in Natanz
using a virus named Stuxnet [48].
2.3 Primary Security and Privacy Goals
To succeed with the implementation of efficient IoT security, we must be
aware of the primary security goals as follows:
Cyber security and the Internet of Things 75
2.3.1 Confidentiality
Confidentiality is an important security feature in IoT, but it may not be
mandatory in some scenarios where data is presented publicly [18]. However,
in most situations and scenarios sensitive data must not be disclosed or read by
unauthorized entities. For instance patient data, private business data, and/or
military data as well as security credentials and secret keys, must be hidden
from unauthorized entities.
2.3.2 Integrity
To provide reliable services to IoT users, integrity is a mandatory security
property in most cases. Different systems in IoT have various integrity
requirements [49]. For instance, a remote patient monitoring system will have
high integrity checking against random errors due to information sensitivities.
Loss or manipulation of data may occur due to communication, potentially
causing loss of human lives [6].
2.3.3 Authentication and authorization
Ubiquitous connectivity of the IoT aggravates the problem of authentication
because of the nature of IoT environments, where possible communication
would take place between device to device (M2M), human to device, and/or
human to human. Different authentication requirements necessitate different
solutions in different systems. Some solutions must be strong, for example
authentication of bank cards or bank systems. On the other hand, most will
have to be international, e.g., ePassport, while others have to be local [6].
The authorization property allows only authorized entities (any authenticated
entity) to perform certain operations in the network.
2.3.4 Availability
A user of a device (or the device itself) must be capable of accessing services
anytime, whenever needed. Different hardware and software components in
IoT devices must be robust so as to provide services even in the presence
of malicious entities or adverse situations. Various systems have different
availability requirements. For instance, fire monitoring or healthcare monitoring systems would likely have higher availability requirements than roadside
pollution sensors.
2.3.5 Accountability
When developing security techniques to be used in a secure network, accountability adds redundancy and responsibility of certain actions, duties and
76 M. Abomhara and G. M. Køien
planning of the implementation of network security policies. Accountability
itself cannot stop attacks but is helpful in ensuring the other security techniques
are working properly. Core security issues like integrity and confidentiality
may be useless if not subjected to accountability. Also, in case of a repudiation
incident, an entity would be traced for its actions through an accountability
process that could be useful for checking the inside story of what happened
and who was actually responsible for the incident.
2.3.6 Auditing
A security audit is a systematic evaluation of the security of a device or service
by measuring how well it conforms to a set of established criteria. Due to
many bugs and vulnerabilities in most systems, security auditing plays an
important role in determining any exploitable weaknesses that put the data
at risk. In IoT, a systems need for auditing depends on the application and
its value.
2.3.7 Non-repudiation
The property of non-repudiation produces certain evidence in cases where the
user or device cannot deny an action. Non-repudiation is not considered an
important security property for most of IoT. It may be applicable in certain
contexts, for instance, payment systems where users or providers cannot deny
a payment action.
2.3.8 Privacy goals
Privacy is an entitys right to determine the degree to which it will interact with
its environment and to what extent the entity is willing to share information
about itself with others. The main privacy goals in IoT are:
• Privacy in devices – depends on physical and commutation privacy.
Sensitive information may be leaked out of the device in cases of device
theft or loss and resilience to side channel attacks.
• Privacy during communication – depends on the availability of a device,
and device integrity and reliability. IoT devices should communicate only
when there is need, to derogate the disclosure of data privacy during
• Privacy in storage – to protect the privacy of data stored in devices, the
following two things should be considered:
• Possible amounts of data needed should be stored in devices.
Cyber security and the Internet of Things 77
• Regulation must be extended to provide protection of user data after
end-of-device life (deletion of the device data (Wipe) if the device
is stolen, lost or not in use).
• Privacy in processing – depends on device and communication integrity
[50]. Data should be disclosed to or retained from third parties without
the knowledge of the data owner.
• Identity privacy – the identity of any device should only discovered by
authorized entity (human/device).
• location privacy – the geographical position of relevant device should
only discovered by authorized entity (human/device) [51].
3 Intruders, Motivations and Capabilities
Intruders have different motives and objectives, for instance, financial
gain, influencing public opinion, and espionage, among many others. The
motives and goals of intruders vary from individual attackers to sophisticated
organized-crime organizations.
Intruders also have different levels of resources, skill, access and risk
tolerance leading to the portability level of an attack occurring [52]. An
insider has more access to a system than outsiders. Some intruders are wellfunded and others work on a small budget or none. Every attacker chooses
an attack that is affordable, an attack with good return on the investment
based on budget, resources and experience [6]. In this section, intruders are
categorized according to characteristics, motives and objectives, capabilities
and resources.
3.1 Purpose and Motivation of Attack
Government websites, financial systems, news and media websites, military
networks, as well as public infrastructure systems are the main targets
for cyber-attacks. The value of these targets is difficult to estimate, and
estimation often varies between attacker and defender. Attack motives
range from identity theft, intellectual property theft, and financial fraud,
to critical infrastructure attacks. It is quite difficult to list what motivates
hackers to attack systems. For instance, stealing credit card information
has become a hackers hobby nowadays, and electronic terrorism organizations attack government systems in order to make politics, religion
78 M. Abomhara and G. M. Køien
3.2 Classification of Possible Intruders
A Dolev-Yao (DY) type of intruder shall generally be assumed [53, 54]. That
is, an intruder which is in effect the network and which may intercept all
or any message ever transmitted between IoT devices and hubs. The DY
intruder is extremely capable but its capabilities are slightly unrealistic. Thus,
safety will be much stronger if our IoT infrastructure is designed to be
DY intruder resilient. However, the DY intruder lacks one capability that
ordinary intruders may have, namely, physical compromise. Thus, tamperproof devices are also greatly desirable. This goal is of course unattainable,
but physical tamper resistance is nevertheless a very important goal, which,
together with tamper detection capabilities (tamper evident) may be a sufficient
first-line defense.
In the literature intruders are classified into two main types: internal and
external. Internal intruders are users with privileges or authorized access to a
system with either an account on a server or physical access to the network
[21, 37]. External intruders are people who do not belong to the network
domain. All intruders, whether internal or external, can be organized in many
ways and involve individual attackers to spy agencies working for a country.
The impact of an intrusion depends on the goals to be achieved. An individual
attacker could have small objectives while spy agencies could have larger
motives [55]. The various types of intruders will be discussed hereby based
on their numbers, motives and objectives.
3.2.1 Individuals
Individual hackers are professionals who work alone and only target systems
with low security [55]. They lack resources or expertise of professional
hacking teams, organizations or spy agencies. Individual hacker targets are
relatively small in size or diversity and the attacks launched have relatively lower impact than ones launched by organized groups (discussed in
3.2.2). Social engineering techniques are most commonly used by individual
attackers, as they have to obtain basic information about a target system
like the address, password, port information, etc. Public and social media
websites are the most common places where general users can be deceived
by hackers. Moreover, operating systems used on laptops, PCs, and mobile
phones have common and known vulnerabilities exploitable by individual
Financial institutions such as banks are also major targets for individual
attackers as they know that such types of networks carry financial transactions
that can be hacked, and thus attackers can manipulate the information in
Cyber security and the Internet of Things 79
their interest. Credit card information theft has a long history with individual
hackers. With the growth of e-commerce, it is easier to use stolen credit card
information to buy goods and services.
Individual hackers use tools such as viruses, worms and sniffers to exploit
a system. They plan attacks based on equipment availability, internet access
availability, the network environment and system security.
One of the individual hacker categories is the insider [21, 37]. Insiders are
authorized individuals working against a system using insider knowledge or
privileges. Insiders could provide critical information for outsider attackers
(third party) to exploit vulnerabilities that can enable an attack. They know the
weak points in the system and how the system works. Personal gain, revenge,
and financial gain can motivate an insider. They can tolerate risk ranging from
low to high depending on their motivation.
3.2.2 Organized groups
Criminal groups are becoming more familiar with ongoing communications
and IoT technology. In addition, as they become more comfortable with
technological applications, these groups can be more aware of opportunities offered by the infrastructure routing information of different networks.
The motivations of these groups are quite diverse; their targets typically
include particular organizations for revenge, theft of trade secrets, economic
espionage, and targeting the national information infrastructure. They also
involve selling personal information, such as financial data, to other criminal
organizations, terrorists, and even governments.
They are very capable in terms of financial funding, expertise and
resources. Criminal groups capabilities in terms of methods and techniques are
moderate to high depending on what the goals are. They are very skillful at
creating botnets and malicious software (e.g., computer viruses and scareware) and denial-of-service attack methods [44]. Organized criminals are
likely to have access to funds, meaning they can hire skilled hackers if
necessary, or purchase point-and-click attack tools from the underground
economy with which to attack any systems [46]. Such criminals can tolerate
higher risk than individual hackers and are willing to invest in profitable
Cyber terrorism [21, 56] is a form of cyber-attack that targets military
systems, banks, and specific facilities such as satellites, and telecommunication systems associated with the national information infrastructure based on
religious and political interests. Terrorist organizations depend on the internet
to spread propaganda, raise funds, gather information, and communicate
80 M. Abomhara and G. M. Køien
with co-conspirators in all parts of the world. Another prevalent group of
criminal organization entails hacktivists. Hacktivists are groups of hackers
who engage in activities such as denial-of-service, fraud, and/or identity
theft. Also, some of these groups have political motivations, like the Syrian
Electronic Army (SEA) [57], Iranian Cyber Army and Chinese cyber-warfare
units [58].
3.2.3 Intelligence agency
Intelligence agencies from different countries are persistent in their efforts to
probe the military systems of other countries for specific purposes, for example
industrial espionage, and political and military espionage. To accomplish their
objectives, the agencies require a large number of experts, infrastructure
ranging from research and development entities to provide technologies
and methodologies (hardware, software, and facilities) besides financial and
human resources.
Such agencies have organized structures and sophisticated resources to
accomplish their intrusion goals. This sort of agencies are the biggest threat
to networks and necessitate tight surveillance and monitoring approaches to
safeguard against threats to the information systems of prime importance for
any country and military establishment.
4 Discussion and Conclusions
4.1 Discussion
The exponential growth of the IoT has led to greater security and privacy
risks. Many such risks are attributable to device vulnerabilities that arise from
cybercrime by hackers and improper use of system resources. The IoT needs
to be built in such a way as to ensure easy and safe usage control. Consumers
need confidence to fully embrace the IoT in order to enjoy its benefits and
avoid security and privacy risks.
The majority of IoT devices and services are exposed to a number
of common threats as discussed earlier, like viruses and denial-of-service
attacks. Taking simple steps to avoid such threats and dealing with system
vulnerabilities is not sufficient; thus, ensuring a smooth policy implementation
process supported by strong procedures is needed.
The security development process requires thorough understanding of a
systems assets, followed by identifying different vulnerabilities and threats
that can exist. It is necessary to identify what the system assets are and what
Cyber security and the Internet of Things 81
the assets should be protected against. In this paper, assets were defined
as all valuable things in the system, tangible and intangible, which require
protection. Some general, IoT assets include system hardware, software, data
and information, as well as assets related to services, e.g. service reputation.
It has been shown that it is crucial to comprehend the threats and system weaknesses in order to allocate better system mitigation. In addition, understanding
potential attacks allows system developers to better determine where funds
should be spent. Most commonly known threats have been described as DoS,
physical attacks and attacks on privacy.
Three different types of intruders were discussed in this paper, namely individual attacks, organized groups, and intelligence agencies. Each attacker type
has different skill levels, funding resources, motivation, and risk tolerance.
It is very important to study the various types of attack actors and determine
which are most likely to attack a system. Upon describing and documenting
all threats and respective actors, it is easier to perceive which threat could
exploit what weakness in the system. Generally, it is assumed that IoT
intruder has full DY intruder capabilities in addition to some limited physical
compromise power. We will presume that physical compromise attacks do
not scale, and they will therefore only at-worst affect a limited population
of the total number of IoT devices. IoT architecture must consequently be
designed to cope with compromised devices and be competent in detecting
such incidents. It is concluded that attackers employ various methods, tools,
and techniques to exploit vulnerabilities in a system to achieve their goals or
objectives. Understanding attackers motives and capabilities is important for
an organization to prevent potential damage. To reduce both potential threats
and their consequences, more research is needed to fill the gaps in knowledge
regarding threats and cybercrime and provide the necessary steps to mitigate
probable attacks.
5 Conclusions
IoT faces a number of threats that must be recognized for protective action to
be taken. In this paper, security challenges and security threats to IoT were
introduced. The overall goal was to identify assets and document potential
threats, attacks and vulnerabilities faced by the IoT.
An overview of the most important IoT security problems was provided,
with particular focus on security challenges surrounding IoT devices and
services. Security challenges, such as confidentiality, privacy and entity
trust were identified. We showed that in order to establish more secure and
82 M. Abomhara and G. M. Køien
readily available IoT devices and services, security and privacy challenges
need to be addressed. The discussion also focused upon the cyber threats
comprising actors, motivation, and capability fuelled by the unique characteristics of cyberspace. It was demonstrated that threats from intelligence
agencies and criminal groups are likely to be more difficult to defeat than
those from individual hackers. The reason is that their targets may be much
less predictable while the impact of an individual attack is expected to be
less severe.
It was concluded that much work remains to be done in the area of IoT security, by both vendors and end-users. It is important for upcoming standards to
address the shortcomings of current IoT security mechanisms. As future work,
the aim is to gain deeper understanding of the threats facing IoT infrastructure
as well as identify the likelihood and consequences of threats against IoT.
Definitions of suitable security mechanisms for access control, authentication,
identity management, and a flexible trust management framework should
be considered early in product development. We hope this survey will be
useful to researchers in the security field by helping identify the major issues
in IoT security and providing better understanding of the threats and their
attributes originating from various intruders like organizations and intelligence
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M. Abomhara is currently pursuing his PhD at University of Agder, Norway.
His research work is in the area of computer security, information security, information system management, cyber-security, and Internet of things.
He received a Master of Computer Science (Data Communication and
Computer Network) from University of Malaya, Malaysia in 2011. He also
received a Master of Business Administration (MBA, Information technology
management) from Multimedia University, Malaysia in 2013 and a Bachelor
of Computer Science from 7th October University, Libya in 2006.
G. M. Køien is an associate professor in security and privacy in ICT at the
University of Agder, Norge. He has previously worked for Ericsson Norway,
System Sikkerhet AS and Telenor R & D. During his time with Telenor
R & D he was the Telenor delegate to the SA3 (3GPP) work group on security.
He received his PhD for Aalborg University, Denmark in 2008.

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