IoT/Mobile Penetration Testing

IoT/Mobile penetration tests are one of the four main types of penetration testing, along with network, application, and physical tests. The objective of this test is to identify vulnerability exploits on your mobile devices and all of the devices connected on your network that could lead to vulnerable vectors for an attacker to exploit for some nefarious purpose.


In the world of cyber security, mobile/IoT penetration tests point out some of the most common device vulnerabilities for a company. This type of penetration test identifies hardware or software vulnerabilities in connected devices that are not covered in standard network penetration tests and includes the product your company sells. Common weaknesses in devices on your IoT network include unencrypted data at rest or use of insecure protocols – especially those that transfer unencrypted data. Overall, these tests will illuminate vulnerabilities you may then defend against to limit the number of vectors from connected devices.

Why Pentest Your IoT/Mobile Network?

The purpose of IoT/mobile penetration testing is to identify real-world vulnerabilities that attackers could possibly use to exploit and infiltrate the connected set of hardware and software on your network. These vulnerabilities are then further analyzed and remedied to avoid an actual IoT compromise. Holes in your IoT systems are often overlooked in the cybersecurity world but are just as important to monitor as each of the other three forms of penetration tests.


Even one successful attack on an IoT vector could mean certain doom for your company. IoT and mobile devices are all interconnected, so a vulnerability in one device could quickly lead to a widespread leak of confidential information or a compromise of more systems. A hacker inside your IoT network will have the ability to move laterally within your organization to escalate their privileges until they have credentials to achieve their goal. An IoT penetration test will identify likely vectors so you may defend against these attacks and maintain peace on your IoT/mobile network.

Common Attack Vectors For IoT/Mobile Penetration Tests

These are some of the most common attack vectors that individuals try to exploit when attempting to break into your company IoT/mobile network:


Hackable Default Passwords – Many IoT devices come with a default password in place that is the same across the entire product range. This means that if an attacker cracks this password and gets into one device that hasn’t changed from the default password, they will be able to get into your network. Once in the network these bad actors will be able to access data, and likely will work to breach into more devices to get more information. One way to remedy this attack vector is to make sure all devices are changed from their default passwords, and the password selected is strong and not easily guessable. This will limit the ability of attacks to have an easy entrance into your network.


Mirai Botnet DDoS Attack – Another attack vector common to IoT/mobile penetration tests is a Mirai attack. A Mirai attack is a self-propagating botnet virus that is injected into your IoT network. This botnet code infects poorly protected internet devices and then attacks them with a large stream of infected devices to overwhelm them and take over as many devices as possible. The more devices a Mirai attack is able the compromise, the more power and information that an attacker will have to access to. Defending against a Mirai attack is similar to a Hackable Default Passwords attack, meaning that all vulnerable devices will need to be secured. Safety can usually be obtained with a combination of advanced firewalls and complex usernames and passwords.


aLTEr Attack – A new trend emerging in the IoT penetration test field are aLTEr attacks and other cellular-based attacks. This attack vector was made to disrupt IoT devices that rely on cellular signals to transmit and stream their data. More specifically, the aLTEr attack attacks LTE connectivity and allows an attacker to redirect network connections by performing DNS spoofing.  Devices operating on cellular data are often open to more vulnerabilities than a device connected to a secure Internet network. Since these devices usually operate on a public cellular connection, they are easier to compromise. One of the biggest culprits for these attacks are through mobile and smartphones, as many people operate solely on a cellular connection. One way to limit the effectiveness of this attack is to ensure all of your employees are connected to your secure network when accessing the Internet.

Tips to Further Protect Your Company From Attacks

While performing penetration tests is both necessary and important for your applications, there are more ways to maximize your security defenses. Here are some of the most important tips to protect your company applications from an attack:


Install anti-virus and anti-malware software and make sure it is up to date

Having a strong and up to date anti-virus software should protect you from many of the large vulnerabilities your network has. This will create a “backbone” for your network and make sure no device is exposed to an attacker.


Establish network use standards

Making sure employees know how they should operate on the network, and more importantly, how they shouldn’t be is key for maximizing your security. Social engineering and user error are some of the most common ways attackers infiltrate a system, so educating your employees on network use standards is crucial.


Disable network connections when they are not in use

This step is all about limiting the number of attack vectors hackers have to target. Disabling network connections from dormant connections makes sure you only use what you need and don’t stretch your network thin. This way your cyber security team can focus on keeping active connections safe.


Encrypt data that is at rest

Encrypting data is done to ensure important and confidential data stored “at rest” is safe from compromise. Encrypting this data should mean that even if an attacker gets their hands on your data, they won’t be able to decrypt it for personal gain.


Limit the number users with network access and admin privileges

The more users that have elevated administrative privileges on your network, the more likely a successful attack is. Limiting the number of total users on your network and the number of individuals with admin privileges will limit the vulnerability of your network against a targeted attack and the number of attack vectors for a hacker.


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