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Threat Intelligence

12/24/2019
09:00 AM
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IoT Security: How Far We've Come, How Far We Have to Go

As organizations fear the proliferations of connected devices on enterprise networks, the private and public sector come together to address IoT vulnerabilities.

"The focus from the EU is a good one, it is important, and we have to take that into consideration, especially as it comes to end nodes," says Dr. Joerg Borchert, president and chairman of Trusted Computing Group (TCG). Privacy protection is a higher priority in Europe, he adds, and it will be a critical part of the conversation around IoT security. As TCG focuses on IoT security, the organization has been working closely with several governments and standards organizations.

"We try to understand what kind of best practices can be utilized and also, it is important for an industry standard to harmonize as much as possible across different geographies and different countries," says Borchert.

UL's IoT Security Rating is another industry measure geared toward manufacturers. Its evaluation process considers critical security aspects of connected products against common attack strategies and known IoT vulnerabilities to create a "security baseline" for consumers.

The driver for UL's rating was to "incentivize manufacturers to build security into their products," says director of security and technology Andrew Jamieson, who anticipates a consumer demand for a minimal security baseline. Adding security will increase cost, he adds, but advertising secure devices beside unsecured ones may encourage people to pay more.

"One of the issues we have with security is it's a commercial problem as much as it is a technical problem," Jamieson explains. He compares the IoT security rating to energy ratings on tools and appliances: because consumers understand why the cost is higher, they're likely to choose a more energy-efficient product. Security ratings will vary between low-risk products, like a connected lightbulb, and high-risk products such as wireless and IP-connected cameras.

IoT Security Startups Bring New Ideas, Capabilities

In addition to providing a gateway into target networks, insecure IoT devices can grant access to a wealth of personal data. Potential exposure of this information is another factor driving private and public sector organizations to pay closer attention to how devices are secured.

"When you think about the amount of data and everything being connected, whether it's at home, on your body, how you drive to work, the threat vector is just growing in magnitudes that you can barely comprehend today," says Gregg Smith, CEO of startup Attila Security. The company launched in 2018 to protect endpoints using a software-defined perimeter.

Attila's tech comes from the NSA, Smith explains. Its initial use case was to provide traveling executives secure connectivity back into government networks. Over time, the company has expanded its use cases to organizations across governments and industries. Now it enables secure IoT deployments, sensitive communications, and secure remote network access. Channels connect devices to one another, enabling IoT device security at a larger scale.

Securing communications across devices is "solving a problem that IoT is creating, but it's not attacking the underlying problem," says Janke. Going down to a deeper level is ReFirm Labs, another IoT security startup specifically focused on the analysis and vetting of IoT firmware.

Firmware, an appealing target given its higher level of access and privilege on a device, is a growing concern in the IoT security industry because it's commonly unprotected. ReFirm's Centrifuge Platform validates and monitors the security of firmware running billions of IoT devices and connected enterprise machines.

"It takes just one firmware weakness for bad actors to gain access to an IoT device and then use that attack surface to compromise the integrity of an entire network," says cofounder Terry Dunlap. These attacks often aren't advanced or complicated to perform; intruders can simply take advantage of default usernames and passwords, which come with so many IoT products.

Where We're Headed

In the future, we'll start to see greater monetization of IoT devices and criminals targeting medical devices, robot assemblies, and industrial control systems, Clay predicts. As new devices come online and organizations automate, we'll continue to see new IoT-focused attacks.

Carson calls on industry organizations to share data across verticals, which he believes can help everyone better prepare for IoT attacks. "Sometimes a lot of lessons can be learned by having cross-industry experience," he notes. "We need to talk more about the successes and share more about the lessons learned."

It's "highly likely" we'll continue to see more actions from state and federal agencies to address IoT security, Geiger anticipates, though he believes states' progress will move faster. While major tech organizations like Amazon and Microsoft are taking regulation seriously, more will need to be done to bring manufacturers of all levels on board.

Related Content:

Check out The Edge, Dark Reading's new section for features, threat data, and in-depth perspectives. Today's top story: "How to Manage API Security."

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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RyanSepe
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RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2019 | 1:08:01 AM
Re: Printers
Any IoT device needs to be secured and patched but you're right, these things way to often take a backseat to more conventional infrastructure.
RyanSepe
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RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2019 | 1:06:59 AM
Re: Open-source
True, unfortunately the flipped side to that easier to attack coin is that it makes it easier for individuals with more altruistic intent to make a product better than its original form because they have access to the source code.

The dichotemy of the human element is truly astounding to behold.
RyanSepe
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RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2019 | 1:04:33 AM
Re: DDoS
It's funny you should mention this because I brought this up in a response to one of your other posts. I don't think people outside of the security realm fully comprehend how easy it is to launch a DDoS attack. Very little effort or technical inclination is required and even without those two items you could sub it out using a Remote Access Tool for hire.
RyanSepe
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RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2019 | 1:02:25 AM
Re: POS
Couldn't agree more. Unfortunately with POS being targets of DDoS and Ransomware, two very simplistic attack methods, they are subject to be targeted by any script kiddy looking for a thrill, all the way up to attackers with more nefarious intentions.
RyanSepe
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RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2019 | 1:00:46 AM
Re: Patch management
To add to this I think most corporations are not certain where to start. I gave a speech this summer at a security conference that touched on Vulnerability and Patch Management and many were unsure before the topic on how the two were different.

Vulnerability Management highlights the exposures and provides the method for which to remediate them. This is to be performed by the Security Practioner.

Patch Management is to be performed by someone in SysOps or SysEng and NOT to be performed by the security team. 

Providing this data at a high level because I could go on at length about how pivotal it is to optimize these two programs within corporations to stay ahead of the curve.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2019 | 2:32:43 PM
Patch management
Many companies continue to struggle with patch management efforts, And greatly fail. Most of us not up to date in a timely manner, and that is one of the main reasons we have the problems today.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2019 | 2:30:44 PM
POS
Criminals are narrowing their focus on IoT, evolving from ransomware or point-of-sale malware to specifically targeting connected devices. POS devices are target for both DDoS and ransomware, their firmware needs to be up to date.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2019 | 2:24:55 PM
DDoS
who are targeting firmware at scale or leveraging connected devices in DDoS attacks. DDoS is one of the primary problems in IoT world, easy to execute and maximum damage.
Dr.T
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50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2019 | 2:18:47 PM
Open-source
it's open-source and free, so attackers don't have to work very hard. This is one of the problem with open-source, we know what is happening in the code so easier to hack.
Dr.T
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50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2019 | 2:17:09 PM
Printers
Routers, printers, and IP cameras are among the most prominently discussed devices in corporate IoT security. We tend to forget printers and cameras in this picture quite often. They need to be secured too.
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