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12/9/2014
11:10 AM
Chris Rouland
Chris Rouland
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Internet Of Things: 3 Holiday Gifts That Will Keep CISOs Up At Night

If you think BYOD policies will protect your infrastructure from the January influx of mobile hotspots, fitness trackers, and Bluetooth, think again.

The Internet of Things (IoT), a term that was first coined back in 1999, has become a mainstream buzzword, and there is no sign of slowing in terms of most hyped technology (Gartner) and sales, which IDC predicts will grow from $1.3 trillion in 2013 to $3.04 trillion in 2020 -- and a whopping 30 billion devices.

In an attempt to capitalize on this exploding market, developers are racing to make every possible appliance and device “smart,” with little to no regard for the personal, organizational, and national security risks of doing so.

Even if security is a concern, there are currently zero (0) IoT regulations or standards for developers. As a result, the IoT is invading the mass-market at a rapid pace, with consumers buying up the latest gadgets like Fitbits, Google Chromecast, and GoPros. In addition, many of America’s largest corporations, and even some small businesses, are now deploying thousands of IoT devices, such as connected HVAC systems and smart light bulbs, to improve operational efficiencies and boast employee productivity and wellness.

Most companies mistakenly believe that their bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies act as sufficient protection from threats affecting the IoT. However, these policies were built specifically for laptops and mobile phones, and do not protect personal devices such as hotspots, fitness trackers, Bluetooth devices, or the thousands of other IoT devices now on the market.

So, what will be coming into your organization after the New Year? Unfortunately, you will have no idea. There is currently no concept of intrusion detection, network access control, or vulnerability assessment in the IoT. In other words, IT security professionals do not have any visibility into what is coming in and out of the corporate airspace. What’s worse is that many IoT devices create their own mesh networks that can act as new paths into an organization’s most critical data.

According to a PwC report, one in three corporations experienced economic crime in 2014, with cybercrime making up 24 percent of the total reported frauds. With the proliferation of insecure and unregulated IoT devices, I predict cybercrime will be among the leading causes of data theft as early as next year.

Here are just a few examples of how organizations are making it easy for even amateur hackers to access critical data.

Employee wellness programs
Gyms, diet clinics, and fitness tracking providers love January. It’s that time of year when everyone begins their New Year’s resolutions of getting into shape. Corporations are joining in on this movement, too. Nearly 80 percent of organizations with more than 1,000 employees provide fitness tracking devices as part of their employee wellness programs, according to a 2012 survey by Automatic Data Processing.

A very diligent hacker could monitor where employees are going throughout the day via location-based signals. If a hacker can identify executives in the boardroom, a cyber security disaster is quite possible as connected devices create a new path into an enterprise’s network to exfiltrate sensitive data.

Hotspots vs. datacenters
Another potential risk for organizations would involve someone coming in as a guest, and leaving behind a 4G hotspot in the datacenter. This hotspot can act as a backdoor into the organization, where a hacker could easily gain access into the network through the device he or she left behind. The IT security team would not see this IoT device entering the airspace, and they cannot see whether it has left the airspace, either. The organization’s most critical data is left vulnerable to attack, and no one will know until it is too late.

Bluetooth in the boardroom
While most organizations have WiFi security controls in place, Bluetooth devices are considered part of the IoT and cannot be detected with traditional WiFi scanners. A hacker could break into the Bluetooth conference system in an organization’s boardroom and listen in on financial transactions or acquisition negotiations.

Without policies in place, government regulations, or visibility into the airspace, the proliferation of IoT devices is a major cause for concern -- especially for enterprise organizations. The bad guys are not going to wait on us to secure our networks, and the threats are only going to get more complicated. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Chris Rouland is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Phosphorus Cybersecurity, Inc. A 25-year veteran of the information security industry, Chris is a renowned leader in cybersecurity innovation and disruption. In his career, Chris has founded and led several ... View Full Bio
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ChrisRouland
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ChrisRouland,
User Rank: Strategist
12/12/2014 | 9:16:20 AM
Re: How do we detect these devices?

Marilyn,

The MDM market is well established to help secure personal devices connected to corporate infrastructure, however host agents such as MDM's don't run on the majority of the IOT.   Broad spectrum intrusion detection, vulnerability assessment and localization will be key to managing risk around devices that are unable to run a host based security agent.

Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
12/11/2014 | 4:28:21 PM
Re: How do we detect these devices?
Thanks, Chris. What do you think will be the biggest challenges with IoT in the enterprise compared to BYOD?
ChrisRouland
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ChrisRouland,
User Rank: Strategist
12/11/2014 | 10:55:04 AM
Re: How do we detect these devices?
There are certainly some short-term solutions, such as an IoT policy that segregates devices from the corporate network. Long term, however, enterprises will be responsible for implementing policies that ensure the security of their airspace, while not infringing on the personal privacy of employees, contractors, and the thousands of others who come in and out of their corporate environments each day. New technology needs to come to market to provide vulnerability assessment, intrusion detection and localization across the wide spectrum of protocols of the IoT.   With the tremendous growth of IoT, brings opportunity for innovation in security in the space.
gwilson001
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gwilson001,
User Rank: Strategist
12/10/2014 | 6:09:40 PM
Re: How do we detect these devices?
I don't think any one has policies around things like the fitness bands etc.  Policies are essential but getting people to follow them where these devices are concerned would be difficult.  You would have to update the policy everytime a new device came out that was not covered under another product category.  I can see this being a mess to manage.  Enforcement would be diufficult as well since these devices are often very small and could be tossed in a purse or backpack/gym bag and brought into the office.  Since WiFi scanners won't monitor for these devices how will we detect them? 
ODA155
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ODA155,
User Rank: Ninja
12/10/2014 | 4:15:15 PM
Re: How do we detect these devices?
@gwilson001,... I could be wrong, but I think actually "detecting" these devices is the easy part. The difficult thing for some companies would be trying to manage them or just ignoring them altogether. Personally, I'm of the mind to block ANY USB or Bluetooth device that isn't woned by the company and already registered on the network or mated with a specific computer\system. If it doesn't have a valid business need then it shouldn't be on the network regardless of who wants to use it... sometime you just have to say no.
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
12/10/2014 | 3:19:45 PM
Re: How do we detect these devices?
That/s the  million-dollar question with IoT security, @gwilson001. For an enterprise, the first step would be to create policies surrounding them. But given the popularity (& success) of BYOD policies, I'm not overly optimistic.
gwilson001
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gwilson001,
User Rank: Strategist
12/10/2014 | 2:06:39 PM
How do we detect these devices?
Interesting but not surprising article.  It outline the threat but offers no solutions.  How do we detect or otherwise manage these devices so that we can at least be aware of them before they can do damage?
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