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.

Mobile

12/4/2017
10:30 AM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
50%
50%

The Rising Dangers of Unsecured IoT Technology

As government regulation looms, the security industry must take a leading role in determining whether the convenience of the Internet of Things is worth the risk and compromise of unsecured devices.

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled 450,000 pacemakers that are currently in use by patients out of fear that these devices could be compromised. Although the agency said there is not any reported patient harm related to the devices, the FDA is rightly concerned that attackers will exploit pacemaker vulnerabilities and have the ability to affect how a medical device works. 

While this is perhaps one of the most potentially life-threatening examples of unsecured Internet of Things (IoT) security, it drives home the point that manufacturers are not building these devices with security as a priority. As IoT devices grow in popularity, seemingly endless security- and privacy-related concerns are surfacing. 

IoT Malware: Alive and Well
With more than 20 billion devices expected to be connected to the Internet over the next few years, it comes as no surprise that attackers are increasingly looking to exploit them. Large-scale events like last October's distributed denial-of-service attack targeting systems operated by Dyn, and warnings from security experts should have security professionals paying attention. But are they?

According to a recent Gartner report, by 2020, IoT technology will be in 95% of new electronic product designs. While this statistic demonstrates the success of IoT, it is also a precursor for alarm. As the adoption of IoT devices rises, manufacturers are competing to stay ahead. Creating cheap products quickly often means overlooking security and privacy measures.

In general, consumers need to have more control over privacy and how they use IoT devices (think of the pacemaker). Watches and other wearables, for instance, are good examples of devices that give consumers control. Users can turn them off, take them off, and customize them. However, other devices, such as your personal home assistant can, theoretically, always be listening, as when, according to a CNET report, a hostage victim was able to contact law enforcement through their Amazon Alexa device, despite the fact that Amazon says the technology doesn't support "wake-up" action calls to outside phone lines.

National Security Issue?
The IoT Cybersecurity Act was introduced recently as an initiative designed to set security standards for the US government's purchase of IoT devices. In order to steer clear of stifling innovation, the government doesn't often insert itself into private sector manufacturing decisions. However, the proposed legislation signals that, at least in some quarters, IoT security is becoming a matter of national security. And, although this bill does not pertain to consumers, it is a step in the right direction by challenging manufacturers to prioritize IoT security and privacy in their engineering designs, and consumers, in their purchasing decisions.

At the end of the day, as consumers continue to embrace IoT technology, they should not have to sacrifice security and privacy for the convenience and enjoyment of a product and service. Instead, they should be able to decide how they use "things" and how they can control them. Until security and privacy measures are embedded in all devices, those of us in the security industry need to challenge ourselves by questioning whether the convenience is worth the risk and compromise of unsecured devices.

Related Content:

With 15-plus years of leadership experience implementing vendor security risk and assessment programs for startups and Fortune 500 companies, Jackson defines the security road map for SecureAuth's suite of adaptive authentication and IS solutions. Prior to joining SecureAuth, ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
PJS880
50%
50%
PJS880,
User Rank: Ninja
12/4/2017 | 1:23:06 PM
Bubble
Anyone that does not think that security is the primary concern for any industry, is living in a bubble!
I 'Hacked' My Accounts Using My Mobile Number: Here's What I Learned
Nicole Sette, Director in the Cyber Risk practice of Kroll, a division of Duff & Phelps,  11/19/2019
6 Top Nontechnical Degrees for Cybersecurity
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  11/21/2019
Anatomy of a BEC Scam
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  11/21/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-15593
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-22
GitLab 12.2.3 contains a security vulnerability that allows a user to affect the availability of the service through a Denial of Service attack in Issue Comments.
CVE-2019-16285
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-22
If a local user has been configured and logged in, an unauthenticated attacker with physical access may be able to extract sensitive information onto a local drive.
CVE-2019-16286
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-22
An attacker may be able to bypass the OS application filter meant to restrict applications that can be executed by changing browser preferences to launch a separate process that in turn can execute arbitrary commands.
CVE-2019-16287
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-22
An attacker may be able to leverage the application filter bypass vulnerability to gain privileged access to create a file on the local file system whose presence puts the device in Administrative Mode, which will allow the attacker to executed commands with elevated privileges.
CVE-2019-18909
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-22
The VPN software within HP ThinPro does not safely handle user supplied input, which may be leveraged by an attacker to inject commands that will execute with root privileges.