Guest Column | August 12, 2021

How Enterprises Can Address OWASP's Top IoT Vulnerabilities

By Mihail Urbanovich, a1qa


The Internet of Things (IoT) has been gaining prominence for several years now, and its adoption continues to accelerate. Just imagine that more than 83 billion IoT connections will be in use by 2024, according to Juniper Research.

Enterprises and their customers are becoming more connected than ever, but unfortunately, progress has its price. The rapid growth in the number of IoT-powered devices and the increase in processed data generate and multiply potential vulnerabilities.

The good news is that many security risks are already known and classified, and therefore, IoT adopters don't have to step into uncharted territory. For instance, they can look at the extensive list of top ten IoT security vulnerabilities by OWASP to gain a rough idea of the main security threats.

In this article, we'll review all of OWASP's top vulnerabilities and give some expert advice on how to mitigate them. But first, let's discuss why it is vital to take the right approach to IoT implementation from the start and how the list can help do it.

How Should Enterprises Approach IoT From The Security Perspective?

IoT is a complex mix of devices and software integrated with the infrastructure for data transmission and interfaces that collect and react to that data. This combination may also include additional elements related to communications, AI, or cloud apps.

Since it is difficult to define the boundaries of IoT clearly, it is also hard to assess all the risks associated with this technology and estimate the security of its implementation. That's why IoT adopters should initially take an end-to-end approach to protecting all three layers: the network, the hardware, and the cloud.

To do this, companies first must assess the prospects of their IoT business cases in the long term and only then start the implementation. During the adoption period and later, IT departments should constantly monitor the infrastructure for potential threats and use security tools to eliminate vulnerabilities; for instance, a1qa advises clients to keep their IoT environments safe via regular penetration tests.

The OWASP list can be applied to all these stages. Having it in front of their eyes, enterprise managers can both build a comprehensive adoption strategy and implement it, ensuring the safety of their infrastructures.

What Are The OWASP Top Ten IoT Vulnerabilities?

  1. Weak Password Protection

The problem of weak passwords seems to be age-old. Nevertheless, it is as relevant as ever. Indeed, hackers often use password-focused attacks to gain access to IoT software and hardware and steal data.

How To Address This Issue: IT departments should take a responsible approach to password management: implement device authentication solutions to mitigate intrusion risks and ensure that employees strictly follow corporate password management policies.

  1. Insecure Network Services

Devices and networks are integrated into corporate infrastructures, and the data is being constantly transferred back and forth via open ports. Cybercriminals can use these ports to infiltrate a digital enterprise environment.

How To Address This Issue: Network administrators should continuously analyze IoT systems and immediately close those ports that aren't linked to any critical network points and elements.

  1. Insecure Ecosystem Interfaces

Enterprise servers and end users are connected with REST API interfaces, which also can attract hackers looking for loopholes in corporate infrastructures.

How To Address This Issue: Departments can ensure that the corporate infrastructure has strong authorization and authentication mechanisms that prevent insecure hardware from connecting other links to the IoT chain.

  1. Lack Of Secure Update Mechanism

Even if IoT software and devices are safe during deployment, they may become vulnerable later when left without patches and updates. After all, malefactors don't sit still and are constantly trying to exploit new bugs and issues.

How To Address This Issue: Network administrators should ensure that corporate IoT software and devices receive regular updates and that these updates come from trusted sources.

  1. Use Of Insecure Or Outdated Components

Legacy IoT hardware, frameworks, software, and third-party libraries may not address the latest security requirements, which makes these components potential entry points for malware and hackers.

How To Address This Issue: It’s better to avoid using legacy components. Besides that, enterprise IT specialists should regularly scan IoT systems and run static code analysis to find flaws.

  1. Insufficient Privacy Protection

Given that devices collect user information (including sensitive data), enterprises should take privacy protection extremely seriously. Otherwise, medical and credit histories and other customer data may end up in the wrong hands.

How To Address This Issue: IT departments should ensure that enterprise data collection and processing mechanisms correspond to the latest editions of the CCPA and GDPR.

  1. Insecure Data Transfer And Storage

When a device gathers information from the end user, the data follows the route to the data storage, where it remains. Each stage of this path, and the repository itself, must be protected so that no leakage occurs.

How To Address This Issue: First, companies need to decide what data is required for service provisioning — irrelevant information shouldn't be stored at all. Then, they should deploy a robust encryption method and follow it daily.

  1. Lack Of Device Management

The absence of proper device management provides attackers with the ability to infiltrate, which endangers any system regardless of its type and complexity.

How To Address This Issue: Ceaseless system monitoring and maintenance, installation of the latest fixes and patches are among the tools for finding vulnerabilities and establishing a robust device management workflow.

  1. Insecure Default Settings

Sometimes, devices are shipped with default settings, and if your employees fail or forget to change them, that may expose the corporate infrastructure to danger.

How To Address This Issue: An enterprise should deploy IoT devices only when its IT specialists are sure that the settings are fully compliant with the corporate security policy.

  1. Lack Of Physical Hardening

In the absence of video surveillance and security, devices may be subject to negative physical impact, leading to data loss or malware infection.

How To Address This Issue: It isn't easy to give one universal piece of advice here. In general, enterprises should ensure that the hardware is safe from sabotage, physical manipulation, and unauthorized access.


IoT technology empowers enterprises with the opportunity to become more competitive and connected, and yet its adoption brings certain security risks. With the list of most significant vulnerabilities by OWASP, companies can establish well-rounded implementation strategies and mitigate the chance of being compromised.

About The Author

At a1qa, Mihail is a Head of test automation and performance testing lab staffed with more than 170 QA engineers.