Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Endpoint

12/14/2015
10:00 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Internet Of Things Christmas Security Survival Guide

Here's how CISOs, security researchers, and all security-minded folks in between can channel their healthy paranoia into helpful ways of protecting friends and family from IoT gifts.

The Internet of Christmas is in full effect. With the holiday shopping shifted into full gear, consumers are filling their carts and their wish lists with a dizzying array of super connected Internet of Things devices. Among those legions are undoubtedly plenty of friends and family members of security professionals.  

It is enough to give just about any security professional more than a few grey hairs. There's nothing more discouraging after a work week nagging colleagues to follow security policies and good security hygiene than to visit a relative who is exposing their home network through their newfangled smart TV.

But it's happening, and after this shopping season, it's bound to get worse. The experts with the Online Trust Alliance (OTA) estimate that 50 million connected devices will be sold over the holidays this year. That includes fitness devices, televisions, and kids' toys under the tree. It also includes those thermostats and appliances people pick up before relatives come visit.  

"That’s 50 million opportunities for data and home network compromises as well as privacy abuses,” said Craig Spiezle, executive director and president of OTA. “Consumers should not have to pay twice—once with their credit card and then again in perpetuity with their personal data, identity and safety.”

Last week, the OTA released some guidance in the form of a checklist meant to help consumers before and after they've picked up IoT devices over the holidays. We've cherry-picked a few of the most relevant tips for security executives looking for a cheat sheet when offering advice and troubleshooting for friends and fam over the holidays. If you're looking for a boilerplate speech to give to people who way, "Hey, you know about this security stuff, what do you think of this device?" then this is it:

 

Make Sure It's Returnable

If you get your hooks into friends and family early on, you can help them from making IoT gaffes in the first place. OTA suggests consumers check out a device's warranty and support policies to make sure the manufacturer actually patches its products. Additionally, it suggests consumers confirm tha they can return devices for a refund after they've unboxed it and realized that it doesn't offer enough security for their needs.

 

Patches Aren't Just For Clothes--Unless They're Wearables

When manufacturers do update devices, consumers need to be ready to patch. This means that gift recipients need to register devices so they know when updates are available.

 

App Stores Are Best

Advise your friends to download devices directly from the manufacturer's official site whenever possible, the OTA says. And be sure to check the permissions on those apps, so they're not hoovering up data!

 

TV Stations Can Be Promiscuous, Smart TVs Shouldn't Be

Permissions and connectivity are the two big privacy killers for IoT devices. OTA reccomends that devices are connected directly through a wired connection, preferably through a guest network if the consumer's router supports that. They should be guarded by a firewall and remote access should probably be disabled when not needed. Perhaps even more importatnly, it's important to harden permissions settings for data collection and sharing policies with third parties.

 

Mic Drop

Speaking of permissions--perhaps some of the most sensitive data colleciton can be done using on-board microphones and cameras. This can be circumvented by disabling these features when not in use. It might be best to even removing the camera or flipping it to face a wall if it is not used regularly.

 

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Gigi3
100%
0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Strategist
12/14/2015 | 11:27:09 PM
Security concerns with end users
" it suggests consumers confirm tha they can return devices for a refund after they've unboxed it and realized that it doesn't offer enough security for their needs."

Ericka, as an end user how I can know how much my device and privacy is protected? Its quiet difficult for a normal user unless, he is an expert in similar line. End-users are bothered only about its functionality and various other features.
News
Former CISA Director Chris Krebs Discusses Risk Management & Threat Intel
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/23/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
Security + Fraud Protection: Your One-Two Punch Against Cyberattacks
Joshua Goldfarb, Director of Product Management at F5,  2/23/2021
News
Cybercrime Groups More Prolific, Focus on Healthcare in 2020
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/22/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Building the SOC of the Future
Building the SOC of the Future
Digital transformation, cloud-focused attacks, and a worldwide pandemic. The past year has changed the way business works and the way security teams operate. There is no going back.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-27132
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
SerComm AG Combo VD625 AGSOT_2.1.0 devices allow CRLF injection (for HTTP header injection) in the download function via the Content-Disposition header.
CVE-2021-25284
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
An issue was discovered in through SaltStack Salt before 3002.5. salt.modules.cmdmod can log credentials to the info or error log level.
CVE-2021-3144
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
In SaltStack Salt before 3002.5, eauth tokens can be used once after expiration. (They might be used to run command against the salt master or minions.)
CVE-2021-3148
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
An issue was discovered in SaltStack Salt before 3002.5. Sending crafted web requests to the Salt API can result in salt.utils.thin.gen_thin() command injection because of different handling of single versus double quotes. This is related to salt/utils/thin.py.
CVE-2021-3151
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
i-doit before 1.16.0 is affected by Stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) issues that could allow remote authenticated attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via C__MONITORING__CONFIG__TITLE, SM2__C__MONITORING__CONFIG__TITLE, C__MONITORING__CONFIG__PATH, SM2__C__MONITORING__CONFIG__PATH, C__M...