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3/28/2017
02:30 PM
Stuart Bailey
Stuart Bailey
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Commercial IoT: Big Trouble in Small Devices

There are endless scenarios where hackers could wreak havoc on the industrial Internet of Things. There's also a readily available solution called 'HIP.'

It’s impossible to ignore the explosion of connected “things” today. Everywhere we turn there’s a new connected device. Hundreds to millions of unmanned devices and sensors are being deployed on everything from mining equipment and smart buildings to healthcare monitors and thermostats. By 2020, the Internet of Things (IoT) is projected to include somewhere between 20 billion and 50 billion connected things.

Still, many businesses haven’t quite wrapped their heads around the IoT. They know it is an opportunity that can’t be ignored—connecting our digital and physical worlds has the power to inform far better business decisions—but they see complexity and security red flags at the prospect of thousands of things talking to each other. They’re rightfully concerned.

Anything connected to the Internet has the potential to be exploited, whether it’s your refrigerator or an industrial control system. The sheer number of connected devices makes this complex for businesses.

Take a mining operation where 20 pieces of equipment each has hundreds to millions of sensors collecting and reporting real-time data. Each of these sensors is a connected “thing” that needs to deliver information to and from the network. One of these sensors may detect wear on the piece of equipment and report back the need for maintenance, or even control pausing its workload or shifting workload to another piece of equipment. Hacking this device could be used to send false instructions to physical equipment putting performance or safety in jeopardy.

There are endless scenarios where the industrial IoT, if accessed by hackers, could wreak havoc. Imagine the impact of a successful attack on the energy grid, chemical plants, medical equipment, oil fields or even traffic lights or ATMs. Then, there’s the scenario we saw last fall where unsecure IoT devices were used for a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on a massive scale.

A Hypermobile Protocol-Level Solution
In my opinion, IoT security needs to be solved at the protocol level. Current security methods, such as firewalls and VPNs, will fail as IoT grows; they are too expensive to deploy and manage in large numbers, and remember we’re talking about hundreds and thousands of IoT devices in a business.

At the same time, we can’t rely on the current IP protocol that runs the Internet today to secure the IoT. IP addresses are easily spoofed, which means an attacker could gain access to an IoT device by impersonating a trusted connection. The IP protocol was not designed as a secure protocol; even Vinton Cerf, co-inventor of TCP/IP  and widely known as the “Father of the Internet,” says he wishes they had done more in the beginning to secure the Internet. Unfortunately, we don’t get a do-over.

So, decades later, businesses need a way to secure the vast number of connected devices that the IoT network of the future requires. I’m a firm believer in an industry protocol called host identity protocol (HIP). HIP was specified in the IETF HIP working group about 15 years ago and has matured considerably since then. With HIP, all occurrences of IP addresses are eliminated and replaced with a unique, non-spoofable address that is invisible by default, making it resistant to man-in-the-middle and DDoS attacks.

In simple terms, you can think of HIP like your fingerprint. It’s unique to the device, and like your fingerprint travels with you always, a HIP address is recognized no matter where it accesses the network from—it’s hypermobile.

Just imagine the things enterprises could achieve when IoT security is no longer a barrier—intelligent buildings, remote patient monitoring, new business models we haven’t even thought of and the list goes on. Eventually, we’ll be able to stop talking about how we connect the IoT. We’ll take for granted the data we capture from our “things” and the focus will become what we do with it. That’s a day I’m looking forward to.

[Check out 5 ways to prepare your organization to address the security of the Internet of Things at Interop ITX. Click for regististration information.]

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Stuart Bailey is the chief technology officer of Open Data Group. He founded and was most recently chief scientist of the leading global DNS solutions provider Infoblox, and is on the board of directors of Tempered Networks. Stuart is a career a technologist and an ... View Full Bio
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alex143
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alex143,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/2/2017 | 7:11:12 AM
IoT Secuity.
The scenario is looking dangerous. What Should be the best solution then?
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
4/1/2017 | 5:16:41 PM
Re: Will get worse
In many cases, this has already happened -- by both white-hat researchers and black-hat malfeasors.

IIoT security (esp. in the public sector) has a record of being pretty pitiful.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2017 | 3:29:28 PM
IoT forecasts/predictions
re: "By 2020, the Internet of Things (IoT) is projected to include somewhere  between 20 billion and 50 billion connected things"

First off, the observations/insights in that article that you link to are fantastic.  Thank you.  I've been beating that drum for quite some time (although the article posits that that range is more realistically capped at 17.6 billion connected devices -- inclusive of computers, mobile devices, and IoT "things").

Secondly, it's worth noting that -- one year after its notorious "50 billion connected devices by 2020" prediction made in 2010, Cisco predicted 25 billion connected devices by 2015.

Obviously, we fell far short of that (Cisco even conceded as much, reporting 15 billion connected devices two years ago -- which may or may not have been an overly liberal assessment), which you'd think would impact both Cisco's and others' predictions.  Not so much.   This hasn't stopped the forecasters and professional prognosticators predicting similarly big numbers for 2020 (and, for the hedgers who want to forecast even further out such that we'll forget what they said by then, 2021, 2025, and 2030).

(Even more hilariously, IBM projected 1 TRILLION connected devices by 2015.)
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
3/29/2017 | 5:14:03 PM
Will get worse
"... Imagine the impact of a successful attack on the energy grid, chemical plants, medical equipment, oil fields or even traffic lights or ATMs...." Good points , so this means it will get worse unless we act soon.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
3/29/2017 | 5:10:26 PM
Re: IoT requires out-of-the-box solution
"... bind an identity to its public key ..." I would say any identifier in the device should be working but not having enough knowledge to comment actually.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
3/29/2017 | 5:08:54 PM
HIP?
HIP may work but are we thinking the IP is the problem for IoT deceives ?
Dr.T
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50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
3/29/2017 | 5:07:25 PM
Re: IoT requires out-of-the-box solution
"... PKI solutio ..." It would work in my view, IoT deceives will be elective which other devices that they should be talking.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
3/29/2017 | 5:03:08 PM
Offline IoT
How about making those devices offline? They connect internet when they need updates but rest of the time they stay offline.
shimritd
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shimritd,
User Rank: Author
3/29/2017 | 12:43:48 PM
IoT requires out-of-the-box solution
I believe any PKI solution will not hold for the IoT environment. First of all, there is the problem of how to bind an identity to its public key in an open environment and second, i believe that that kind of solution cannot scale.
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