Threat of security attacks from IOT is 'exploding'

Machine identity-related cyber attacks grew by more than 400 per cent over the two-year period of 2018 and 2019, according to research, with the problem potentially set to get worse as the Internet of Things (IoT) adoption grows.

Venafi, a provider of machine identity management, examined malware, vulnerabilities and attacks using machine identities over the last five years. Its study found that the machine identity attack surface is “exploding”, with a rapid increase in all types of machine identity-related security events in 2018 and 2019.

We have seen machine use skyrocket in organisations over the last five years but many businesses still focus their security controls primarily on human identity management,” said Kevin Bocek, vice president of security strategy and threat intelligence at Venafi.

“Digital transformation initiatives are in jeopardy because attackers are able to exploit wide gaps in machine identity management strategies.”

He said the COVID-19 pandemic is driving the faster adoption of cloud, hybrid and microservices architectures, but that protecting machine identities for these projects are often an after-thought.

The only way to mitigate these risks is to build comprehensive machine identity management programmes that are as comprehensive as customer, partner and employee identity and access management (IAM) strategies, said Bocek.

Between 2015 and 2019, the number of reported cyber attacks that used machine identities grew by more than 700 per cent, with this amount increasing by 433 per cent between the years 2018 and 2019 alone.

From 2015 to 2019, the number of vulnerabilities involving machine identities grew by 260 per cent, increasing by 125 per cent between 2018 and 2019.

The use of commodity malware that abuses machine identities doubled between the years 2018 and 2019 and grew 300 per cent over the five years up to 2019.

In addition, the five-year period saw the number of reported advanced persistent threats (APTs) that used machine identities grew by 400 per cent, and 150 per cent between 2018 and 2019.

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