Perimeter

8/21/2015
01:00 PM
Bil Harmer​
Bil Harmer​
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
100%
0%

With Great IoT Comes Great Insecurity

In the brave new world of 'things' and the services they connect to, built-in security has never been more critical. Here's what's getting in the way.

The world is at a tipping point. We have a great opportunity to learn from our past mistakes and leap-frog into a future previously only dreamed of by the likes of Asimov, Card, and Gibson. We also have the opportunity to completely ignore what we’ve learned in the past and plunge ourselves into a world that looks more like Skynet with machines in control and humans fighting to simply stay safe. 

Sure, this is a somewhat dramatic view of the world and what we are facing, but when we look at the emerging influx of IoT devices that are being connected to the Internet at rate never seen before -- where each one has available computing power that can be used nefariously -- we are willingly creating a world where the machine outnumber the humans. 

In recent years, the European Union (EU) has been looking at ways to harmonize their data privacy laws across all member states while the US has maintained a patchwork implementation of federal, state, and industry requirements. The EU’s desire for harmonization is based on practical implementation and business requirements. Without harmonization, companies will continue to waste time and resources trying to deal with different interpretations of the directive. 

In the US, the haphazard overlap and lack of enforceability of standards allow innovation to flourish but puts the short-term gains against long-term effects. Security is a tool for achieving privacy and we are building security into the products and services that by sheer design means we will forever be playing catch up.

People versus things
Let's use IoT devices as an example. At the end of 2014, the world’s population was estimated at just over seven billion people while the population of IoT devices was 3.75 billion, about half the number of humans. We estimate the population will increase by a billion individuals for a total of eight billion by 2025.

On the other hand, by 2020 some project the IoT device population to be between 25- and 30 billion, and a recent McKinsey report expects by 2025 (Cue the Dr. Evil voice.) one TRILLION devices. Regardless of the actual number, it is safe to say we are on the road to be massively outnumbered by machines with strong computing power that we have empowered to make decisions in our lives. 

The development of these devices and the services that they connect to need to be built with security and privacy from the ground up. Unfortunately in the startup landscape, these are not considerations that are developed by design at the beginning of a product's life. The general rule of thumb is don't invest in anything that doesn't contribute to sales; without sales there is no point in developing new products.

However, by the time a consumer product becomes wildly popular and generates enough revenue (ignore profit) to warrant a responsible approach to security, it's already out there and any attempt to retrofit security is nearly impossible, at best it can get patch if the user even considers it. Think about your home: Nest? Check. PS4? Check. Smart TV? Check, check. Tablet? Check, check, check! But where is the impetus to ensure these are developed and managed appropriately?

What's cooking?
Chris Roberts and the team at One World Labs were able to use a stove running Android to gain access to a user's entire home (Nest, Garage door, NAS, etc.). From there they were able to take control of his car, his laptop, and finally the computers running the major system at his work --which happened to be a power station. The lab team of four or five people in under a couple of months was able to physically and logically own this one guy and the company he worked for. Imagine what can be done when someone writes a self-replicating worm for IoTs. 

Something that comes in through email or on a laptop and replicates throughout the house and then waits for guests to come over and replicates to their devices. 

Cars that belong to friends, family, or even service agents (gas, cable, plumbers etc.) as they pull up to the house, the wearables they have while they’re in your house, and your neighbors who are within range.

Imagine how fast something could spread inside an apartment building or hotel? Combine this with the exploit developed by Miller and Valasek and not only can you compromise devices, you could actively try to kill people. Picture the scene in World War Z when Gerry Lane is driving his family through the city and the outbreak starts. He counts the time it takes for the infection to spread from person to person: it took ten seconds, and in the digital world we count in milliseconds!!!

Why are we not building the security by design? Our companies are not organized or structured for it. Too many companies still build products using traditional waterfall methodologies or worse "hybrid-waterfall-agile" methodologies. All this means they -- the engineering team -- use sprints to build code then throw it over the fence to Operations and Security to "do their magic."

It takes a full DevOpsSec team to successfully build security and privacy by design. Until we break down the silos in technology companies, give up our internal empires and begin building the teams needed to deliver what we should deliver and not what we are currently legally permitted to deliver, we will continue to watch as customer data is exposed across the Internet and traded like a commodity.

William Harmer joined GoodData as CSO in 2014 from SuccessFactors, an SAP company where he served as vice president, security, and cloud privacy officer. He is CISSP, CISM and CIPP certified. At SuccessFactors, he built and ran the company's security, privacy and compliance ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
JasonL35
100%
0%
JasonL35,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/22/2015 | 11:19:41 PM
Process is Key
True, no longer can Solution Company's expect to develop code in a silo, rush to deliver, then have a Security Expert struggle to provide Vulnerabilities that require significant effort to coordinate and remediate, two weeks before Production Go Live. Security Requirements are required to be delivered before coding begins. We want our clients to worry about their core business functions, not Hackers breaking into the solutions we deliver.

Jason Lebrecht

IoT & Telematics 
Joe Stanganelli
50%
50%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
8/21/2015 | 10:26:16 PM
FTC
Several months ago, the FTC released a report on IoT that declared that the only real solutions to this dilemma were for (1) organizations to collect far less data to begin with and (2) to give FTC regulators greater and broader enforcement powers.

The first of these has merit, at least when it comes to data retention (more than 90% of the data organizations save is never used) and privacy, but is problematic when we're talking about how we can use IoT to leverage data for better insights; the second of these is self-serving.
Crowdsourced vs. Traditional Pen Testing
Alex Haynes, Chief Information Security Officer, CDL,  3/19/2019
BEC Scammer Pleads Guilty
Dark Reading Staff 3/20/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Well, at least it isn't Mobby Dick!
Current Issue
5 Emerging Cyber Threats to Watch for in 2019
Online attackers are constantly developing new, innovative ways to break into the enterprise. This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at five emerging attack trends and exploits your security team should look out for, along with helpful recommendations on how you can prevent your organization from falling victim.
Flash Poll
The State of Cyber Security Incident Response
The State of Cyber Security Incident Response
Organizations are responding to new threats with new processes for detecting and mitigating them. Here's a look at how the discipline of incident response is evolving.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-4035
PUBLISHED: 2019-03-22
IBM Content Navigator 3.0CD could allow attackers to direct web traffic to a malicious site. If attackers make a fake IBM Content Navigator site, they can send a link to ICN users to send request to their Edit client directly. Then Edit client will download documents from the fake ICN website. IBM X...
CVE-2019-4052
PUBLISHED: 2019-03-22
IBM API Connect 2018.1 and 2018.4.1.2 apis can be leveraged by unauthenticated users to discover login ids of registered users. IBM X-Force ID: 156544.
CVE-2019-9648
PUBLISHED: 2019-03-22
An issue was discovered in the SFTP Server component in Core FTP 2.0 Build 674. A directory traversal vulnerability exists using the SIZE command along with a \..\..\ substring, allowing an attacker to enumerate file existence based on the returned information.
CVE-2019-9923
PUBLISHED: 2019-03-22
pax_decode_header in sparse.c in GNU Tar before 1.32 had a NULL pointer dereference when parsing certain archives that have malformed extended headers.
CVE-2019-9924
PUBLISHED: 2019-03-22
rbash in Bash before 4.4-beta2 did not prevent the shell user from modifying BASH_CMDS, thus allowing the user to execute any command with the permissions of the shell.