Endpoint

9/6/2017
10:30 AM
Robert Clyde
Robert Clyde
Commentary
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
50%
50%

Workplace IoT Puts Companies on Notice for Smarter Security

Blacklisting every "thing" in sight and banning connections to the corporate network may sound tempting, but it's not a realistic strategy.

The security threats posed by the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices are top of mind for security practitioners, and with good reason.

Gartner projects 8.4 billion connected things will be in use this year, and that includes far too many devices with vulnerabilities that are a recipe for disaster. IoT devices should have secure passwords that can automatically be updated with the most current patches. Too often, though, that is not the case. In the rush to market, devices are manufactured and shipped with easy-to-guess passwords and outdated operating systems, making devices such as webcams, surveillance cameras, and baby monitors relatively easy targets for attackers.

But it's not just at home where IoT devices can invite disaster. IoT security risks often play out in the workplace. We are a gadget-loving society, especially the younger generations, so it's no surprise to see that employees expect to take their smart watches, fitness devices, and other connected devices to work. Consequently, in ISACA's State of Cyber Security 2017 research, only 13% of respondents indicated their enterprise is unconcerned with IoT in the workplace.

Given the understandable unease, employers may be tempted to take a knee-jerk approach and ban employees from using their connected devices in the workplace, similar to what they did when people started taking smartphones to work. But organizations should avoid that inclination and instead focus on providing clear instructions for how employees can safely and appropriately use their devices in a way that does not put the organization at risk. Otherwise, current and prospective employees may look for a friendlier workplace to take their devices — and their talents.

Putting a sound IoT policy in place — with emphasis on separate network segments for employee-owned devices — is a far better alternative. The policy should address issues such as whether devices will be allowed to connect to the Internet and how to handle devices capable of recording sound or video. If connections to the Internet are allowed, devices should be funneled to a guest or other network segment that is not connected to the corporate network. That way, if those devices are infected or tampered with, they do not spread the infection to the internal network. A monitoring component is also necessary to ensure that unapproved devices are blocked.

There are, however, some connected devices that legitimately rely upon connections to the internal enterprise network — think medical devices at hospitals or clinics that are storing critical data in an internal storage area on the network. These devices should be connected to the enterprise network, but without Internet connectivity that could enable external attacks. Whenever possible, such devices should be locked down so that only trusted apps approved by IT are installed on them.

Organizations committed to sound IoT security also must factor in employee training. If a smart TV is purchased for a conference room, does it need to be connected to the Internet? Should the microphone be turned on? Are staff members allowed to take photos of whiteboards, and if so, to whom could that data eventually be accessible? Most employers would struggle with those answers — and likely not even have thought to ask the questions, underscoring the need for training.

These dynamics are only going to become more pronounced in the foreseeable future. We're still much closer to the beginning than the end of the attack cycle leveraging IoT devices. But as valid as the security concerns are — and I hear them all the time from my colleagues in the industry — blacklisting everything in sight and banning connected devices from the workplace is not a realistic approach.

Instead, having sound policies in place, making effective use of network segmentation, and monitoring the corporate network diligently will position organizations to operate securely, without alienating their workforce.

Related Content:

 

Learn from the industry’s most knowledgeable CISOs and IT security experts in a setting that is conducive to interaction and conversation. Click for more info and to register.

Robert Clyde, CISM, NACD Board Leadership Fellow, is vice-chair of ISACA's board of directors and is managing director of Clyde Consulting LLC, which provides board and executive advisory services to cybersecurity software companies. He is the executive chair of the board of ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Microsoft President: Governments Must Cooperate on Cybersecurity
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  11/8/2018
5 Reasons Why Threat Intelligence Doesn't Work
Jonathan Zhang, CEO/Founder of WhoisXML API and TIP,  11/7/2018
Why the CISSP Remains Relevant to Cybersecurity After 28 Years
Steven Paul Romero, SANS Instructor and Sr. SCADA Network Engineer, Chevron,  11/6/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Online Malware and Threats: A Profile of Today's Security Posture
Online Malware and Threats: A Profile of Today's Security Posture
This report offers insight on how security professionals plan to invest in cybersecurity, and how they are prioritizing their resources. Find out what your peers have planned today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-19205
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-12
Roundcube before 1.3.7 mishandles GnuPG MDC integrity-protection warnings, which makes it easier for attackers to obtain sensitive information, a related issue to CVE-2017-17688. This is associated with plugins/enigma/lib/enigma_driver_gnupg.php.
CVE-2018-19206
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-12
steps/mail/func.inc in Roundcube before 1.3.8 has XSS via crafted use of <svg><style>, as demonstrated by an onload attribute in a BODY element, within an HTML attachment.
CVE-2018-19207
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-12
The Van Ons WP GDPR Compliance (aka wp-gdpr-compliance) plugin before 1.4.3 for WordPress allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code because $wpdb->prepare() input is mishandled, as exploited in the wild in November 2018.
CVE-2018-1786
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-12
IBM Spectrum Protect 7.1 and 8.1 dsmc and dsmcad processes incorrectly accumulate TCP/IP sockets in a CLOSE_WAIT state. This can cause TCP/IP resource leakage and may result in a denial of service. IBM X-Force ID: 148871.
CVE-2018-1798
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-12
IBM WebSphere Application Server 7.0, 8.0, 8.5, and 9.0 is vulnerable to cross-site scripting. This vulnerability allows users to embed arbitrary JavaScript code in the Web UI thus altering the intended functionality potentially leading to credentials disclosure within a trusted session. IBM X-Force...