Managing Cellular IoT Security
Threats to the Enterprise

By: Adam Weinberg

Increasingly, organizations in critical infrastructure, healthcare, utilities, smart cities, point of sale, and other sectors are looking to IoT to enable remote operations and optimize the business benefits of connectivity.

However, enterprises’ attempts to accelerate IoT adoption are often stifled by inherent challenges, from security to network reliability. Thanks to 5G and cellular-IoT cybersecurity technology, businesses can more effectively manage their cellular IoT deployments—ensuring more robust cellular connectivity, interoperability, cost reductions, and device security.

What 5G brings to the IoT table

5G alone has boosted the cellular IoT market to remarkable new heights. Connected devices could reach 30.9 billion by 2025. 5G helps enterprises achieve super-speedy data transfers, which allow cellular IoT devices to process, communicate, and share information significantly faster than earlier-generation devices. 5G also brings unsurpassed network reliability and lower latency, resulting in enhanced operations, stable and uninterrupted connections, and the capability to handle numerous IoT-connected devices.  

Obstacles to enterprise IoT adoption

In all cellular networks, from 2G to 5G, attackers leverage existing vulnerabilities; simply because wireless devices communicate, they are more susceptible to interception than wired ones.

In addition, IoT devices, by their nature, are driven by low cost. Some devices are not secured because they were created to do a straightforward task and do not include sufficient security features. The result is that such devices often produce security “holes” or vulnerabilities within the enterprise networks. This is one reason that network-level security is so critical. 

While 5G offers safer and more dependable connectivity, delivering that promise depends on how dedicated enterprises are to securing their 5G networks. 5G networks—and 2G to 4G, for that matter—operate under a torrent of threats.

Enterprise Cellular IoT Device manipulation 

Battery drain attacks

Because IoT devices rely on battery power to function, these attacks can end up being costly. This is especially true when, because of an attack, company employees are forced to go out and replace batteries in potentially remote or dangerous locations. One method involves “waking up” a component within the system far more frequently than is necessary, which drains the battery of the device. Attackers can execute this attack by gaining access to the network gateway upon which the device resides.

Functionality attacks

These attacks exploit loopholes in the device or network systems to gain access to control functions. These can be unintentional but can also be inserted deliberately by saboteurs during the manufacturing process. Such exploits can be used to impact service operation, spread botnets, or implement denial-of-service attacks, which overwhelm an IoT device and network.

Data channel rerouting attacks

To capture sensitive information and tamper with commands sent to IoT devices and services on the network, attackers can modify the path of data to and from the attacked device in the cellular network. Once in control of this path, attackers can use it to sniff data and tamper with data sent to and from the device. There are a variety of attack schemes used to accomplish this objective. In most cases, it involves maliciously altering the APN (Access Point Name) registered on the device, which defines the gateway from the cellular network to the open Internet or the intervention in DNS (Domain Name Server) resolution to control what IP address is resolved for the


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