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.

IoT
2/15/2017
10:00 AM
Connect Directly
Facebook
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

IoT Security: A Ways To Go, But Some Interim Steps For Safety

The Internet of Things remains vulnerable to botnets and malware, but Cisco's Anthony Grieco offers some tips to keep networks and users more secure

RSA CONFERENCE – San Francisco -  It's pretty much impossible to tune out the attention paid to the Internet of Things here at the security industry's largest gathering. While the IoT wins plenty of renown for its granularity, flexibility, and ability to generate lost of useful data, it's also getting dinged for its porous security, if it has any security at all.

End-users and security vendors got a preview of the IoT's vulnerability in October when Dyn Corp.'s network suffered a massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, with the Mirai IoT botnet marshaling more than 100,000 infected devices to overwhelm Dyn servers with bogus traffic. And in a Mirai encore, researchers this week revealed the IoT botnet is tapping a new, Windows-based Trojan that helps find potential Mirai victims, and amplifies the Mirai bots distribution, according to a report from TrendLabs, the research arm of Trend Micro.

A conversation at RSA with Anthony Grieco, senior director and trust strategy officer at Cisco, helped shed some additional light on the state of IoT security, and what end-user organizations can do to protect themselves. Cisco, a vocal champion of IoT technologies and capabilities, also taps the IoT for internal applications and services, so Grieco spoke with Dark Reading as much as a user as a vendor of IoT products.

"We have IoT all over our enterprise and we think about how we defend against risks," Grieco says, referring to printers, thermostats and even some building management apps that use IoT technology. "We think a lot about resilience, but IoT drives that conversation."

Not surprisingly, Cisco views the enterprise network as the centerpiece (think backbone switches, routers, and workgroup gear); the network is the place for control, access, and administration that allows customers to enforce policies that govern IoT use and other services. "As the IoT grows, the network becomes the place that drives the policy, connectivity, and capability," Grieco explains. "Something you'll see is the network becoming more aware and able to protect the IoT devices."

More immediately, Grieco suggests implementing 802.1X, a port-based Network Access Control (PNAC) standard that handles authentication of devices trying to connect to a LAN or Wi-Fi network as an IoT security measure.

He's also a fan of virtual segmentation technologies that allow for secure compartmentalization of virtual and network elements to reduce overall vulnerability. Segmentation also helps turn up anomalies more efficiently. "A wireless video camera should not be ordering a book from Amazon, for example," Grieco says with a grin.

There are tangible steps users can take to protect their IoT assets and infrastructure. Grieco encourages having defined policies for each segmented element that details its access and communication rights as thoroughly as possible. He also suggests having a unique identifier for each individual IoT device, "a non-trivial challenge, depending on the deployment," Grieco adds.

Many customers either lack the infrastructure IoT defense and protection, or haven't made capital improvements in a while. And that's to the detriment of their individual businesses; Grieco cites a Cisco survey showing 39% of customers had to suspend a major strategic initiative because of the state of their security. If customers aren't ready from a cybersecurity perspective, it will impede them competitively, he says.

Those recommendations are a good start, given that IoT continues to have security gaps, but there are other areas that need to be considered too, says Merritt Maxim, senior analyst at Forrester. He likes the idea of going beyond device identification to identity identification of the user of the device.

Connected home and connected car environments have a single device but multiple potential users with potentially different levels of authorization, Maxim says. While not required in every device, many still support multiple user profiles. "This could go further and also improve the customer experience as well in a multi-user, single-device home environment," he adds.

Another challenge with managing identity occurs when devices have multiple connected partners or tenants. "You have a hardware vendor, software vendors, and maybe even a services company that need to run some code on a specific device," Maxim says, wondering how the industry can formulate an approach that allows regular, automated software updates in the same way. "Right now, it requires a lot of coordination and manual effort."

If nothing else, the advent of the IoT is helping to push the security conversation across the entire enterprise and not just in the IT department Cisco's Grieco says. "It's gratifying to see security's emergence from a back-office function to security all across your business and something everyone has to be concerned with," he says. "That's the most exciting thing and I see evidence of it here and at other conferences."

Related Content:

Save

Save

Save

Save

Terry Sweeney is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered technology, networking, and security for more than 20 years. He was part of the team that started Dark Reading and has been a contributor to The Washington Post, Crain's New York Business, Red Herring, ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Commentary
How SolarWinds Busted Up Our Assumptions About Code Signing
Dr. Jethro Beekman, Technical Director,  3/3/2021
News
'ObliqueRAT' Now Hides Behind Images on Compromised Websites
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  3/2/2021
News
Attackers Turn Struggling Software Projects Into Trojan Horses
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/26/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: George has not accepted that the technology age has come to an end.
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
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-28466
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-07
This affects all versions of package github.com/nats-io/nats-server/server. Untrusted accounts are able to crash the server using configs that represent a service export/import cycles. Disclaimer from the maintainers: Running a NATS service which is exposed to untrusted users presents a heightened r...
CVE-2021-27364
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-07
An issue was discovered in the Linux kernel through 5.11.3. drivers/scsi/scsi_transport_iscsi.c is adversely affected by the ability of an unprivileged user to craft Netlink messages.
CVE-2021-27365
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-07
An issue was discovered in the Linux kernel through 5.11.3. Certain iSCSI data structures do not have appropriate length constraints or checks, and can exceed the PAGE_SIZE value. An unprivileged user can send a Netlink message that is associated with iSCSI, and has a length up to the maximum length...
CVE-2021-27363
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-07
An issue was discovered in the Linux kernel through 5.11.3. A kernel pointer leak can be used to determine the address of the iscsi_transport structure. When an iSCSI transport is registered with the iSCSI subsystem, the transport's handle is available to unprivileged users via the sysfs file system...
CVE-2021-26294
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-07
An issue was discovered in AfterLogic Aurora through 7.7.9 and WebMail Pro through 7.7.9. They allow directory traversal to read files (such as a data/settings/settings.xml file containing admin panel credentials), as demonstrated by dav/server.php/files/personal/%2e%2e when using the caldav_public_...