CB Insights has identified 78 private companies at the intersection of cybersecurity and connected hardware, which includes: critical infrastructure, mobile phones, connected devices, enterprise endpoints, and connected cars.
The breakdown of categories is as follows:
Critical Infrastructure: Startups in this category include Indegy which provides real-time situational awareness, visibility, and security for industrial control systems used across critical infrastructure, including energy, water utilities, petrochemical plants, manufacturing facilities, etc. Similar companies such as CyberX can detect network anomalies by analyzing the operational behavior of industrial internet networks using Big Data and Machine Learning. The company Bastille Networks is among the more unique startups in this category, with a product that scans air space to provide visibility into RF-emitting devices. Bastille has broad implications across the connected hardware cybersecurity market.
Mobile Phones: Companies in this category include three unicorns valued at $1B+. They are: Okta which offers cloud-based identity management and mobility management services, Lookout which is a smartphone security company for the Android and iOS platforms, and Avast Software which offers security and privacy solutions also for iOS and Android.
Connected Devices: Included are companies like Mocana which secures IP addressable devices as well as the information, applications, and services that run on them. Companies in this category also include MedCrypt which offers the ability to manage all of the digital keys needed for users to securely access medical devices.
Enterprise Endpoints: Startups like the unicorn Tanium offer a systems management solution that allows enterprises to collect data and update endpoints across networks. Another unicorn in this category is Cylance, which operates in defense of enterprises’ endpoints by applying artificial intelligence algorithms to predict, identify, and stop malware and advanced threats.
Connected Cars: Argus Cyber Security enables car manufacturers to protect technologically advanced connected vehicles from malicious cyber attacks.
The full company list is here.
As if I haven’t said it a million times, IoT security is critical.
But just when I thought I had it all figured out, somebody comes along and sheds new light on this very important topic in a different way.
At a November 16 hearing held by the Congress Committee on Energy and Commerce in light of the devastating October 21 Dyn DDoS attack, famous cryptologist and computer security expert Bruce Schneier offered a new perspective on IoT security, which makes it easier for everyone to understand the criticality of the issue.
After watching it at least three times, I decided to share the main concepts with the readers of TechTalks. Here are the key takeaways, which I’ve taken the pain to elaborate on.
Everything is now a computer
“Everything is now a computer,” Schneier said at the beginning of his remarks, after which he gave examples about how our phones, refrigerators, ATM machines and cars have in essence become computers that perform functions in the physical world.
“And this is the Internet of Things, and this is what caused the DDoS attack we’re talking about,” he continued.
IoT devices are much more different from objects with a little silicon and electronics baked in. We’re talking about devices that are sometimes running fully functional operating systems and are enjoying broadband internet connections.
And as we all know, computers are smart—but they’re also hackable.
So what it comes down to is that soon, everything around you, from your toaster to your lawn mowing machine, fridge, light bulb and door lock can be hacked and used directly (against you) or indirectly (against others) for evil purposes.
And then Schneier went on to “give four truths” from the world of computer security—which he extended to “everything security”—that apply to everything.
Attack is easier than defense
This was Schneier’s first premise. As the saying goes in cybersecurity jargon “cybersecurity experts have to win every battle. Hackers only have to win once.”
But it was his next phrase that said it all.
“Complexity is the worse enemy of security,” he said. “And this is especially true for computers and the internet.”
Attackers find methods to use software and operating systems in malicious ways that were never imagined by their developers. This is partly due to security flaws found in the source code or the simple fact that the basic functionalities embedded in those software can be combined in innumerable ways.
Even highly secure operating systems such as the Apple iOS tend to spit out vulnerabilities every once in a while.
So said in another way, you have to plug every security hole—hackers only have to find one.
Interconnections introduce new vulnerabilities
This is an extension of the complexity concept.
“The more we connect things to each other,” Schneier said, “the more vulnerabilities in one thing affect other things.”
And he went on to give accounts of some of the cyberattacks that made their fame in recent years, including the Target hack, and of course the Dyn attack, in which the hackers exploited vulnerabilities in several systems to stage their attack.
“Vulnerabilities like this are hard to fix because no one system might be at fault,” Schneier explained.
In many cases a flaw in one system might not be critical per se, but when that system or component is combined or connected to another one, the same vulnerability might open up new ways to cause harm.
Many IoT manufacturers embed third party components into their products that are inherently insecure, and they don’t even know about it. I know of at least one Chinese company that was offering vulnerable white label DVRs and components to other companies, whose products were involved in the Dyn DDoS attack. Good luck recovering all those tens of thousands of devices.
And we’re entering a world where abstraction is playing an increasingly important role in creating software and hardware. Blackbox systems connect over the internet and allow access to their data and functionality without having full knowledge of their vulnerabilities.
The internet empowers attackers
“The internet is a massive tool for making things efficient,” Schneier said, “and that’s also true for attacking. The internet allows attacks to scale to a degree that’s impossible otherwise”
In terms of efficiency, Schneier underlined the fact that hackers have an easier time sharing their knowledge and experience thanks to the internet. The source code for the Mirai botnet, which was used to stage the Dyn attack, has been released and is now available for all to use.
And for those who don’t have the knowledge to make use of the source code and create their own IoT botnet, they can rent one at an affordable price. “I don’t recommend it,” Schneier said.
“This is more dangerous as our systems get more critical,” Schneier said next. “The Internet of Things affects the world in a direct and physical manner.”
This is something that I’ve been saying a lot. It’s one thing to lose access to your favorite website, lose online documents or even have your most intimate secrets doxed. But it’s another thing altogether where your very life and health are concerned and can becompromised from thousands of miles away.
And that’s what the Internet of Insecure Things is leading us.
Schneier: “There’s real risk to life and property. There’s real catastrophic risks.”
The economics don’t trickle down
“Our computers are secure for a bunch of reasons,” Schneier said—and that’s relatively speaking (my own comment). “But it doesn’t happen for these cheaper devices.”
There are many reasons that IoT devices are created with less security. Schneier named a few:
- Low profit margins: Manufacturers are doing their best to lower the costs, and therefore pack the devices with cheaper and less secure components, and firmware and low-end operating systems that can’t run security software.
- IoT devices are offshore: Many devices are treated in an install-and-forget manner. How many times do you check the logs for your thermostat? Also, no sane person leaves their desktop computer or smartphone in an unprotected environment. But IoT devices are made to be installed in the open and left unattended. And yet in many cases, these same devices sport storage and computation capabilities that rival those of mobile and desktop computers, to say nothing of their broadband internet connections.
- No dedicated security teams: Many of the manufacturing companies don’t allocate resources and funds to securing their devices, because as some will honestly admit, “Consumers don’t pay for security. They pay for functionality.” And vetting code and hardware for security can be costly. Also, we’re in the “Gold Rush” phase of the IoT industry’s development, where every new kid on the block is in a hurry to ship a connected device to the market before their competitors do, so naturally, things such as security take a backstage seat.
- Devices can’t be patched: Desktop and mobile operating systems are regularly updated and patched to fix security holes. The same can’t be said about IoT devices. In many cases, the mechanism is nonexistent, while in others, it’s so arduous that consumer will simply forego applying them. And let’s not forget that these are install-and-forget products. And as Schneir reminded in his remarks, many of these “things” such as fridges and cars will not be replaced for a long time—some, never. This means they’ll remain vulnerable for the rest of their lives, causing potential damage to their owners and others.
What needs to be done?
“The government has to get involved,” Schneier said. “What I need are some good regulations.”
I agree, but I would also extend the point and say “Everyone has to get involved,” and that includes manufacturers, who should get serious about securing their devices, or suffer the consequences. It also concerns ISPs, who should do more to spot and block botnet traffic. And consumers should become more savvy on cybersecurity in general and demand more security from manufacturers.
But of course, the government has to play a regulatory role that will ensure implementation.
“For the first time, the internet affects the world in a direct, physical manner,” Schneier said. “When it didn’t matter—when it was Facebook, when it was Twitter, when it was email—it was OK to let programmers, to give them the special right to code the world as they saw fit. We were able to do that. But now that it’s the world of dangerous things… maybe we can’t do that anymore.”
I liked that phrase, and I think we ought take it seriously.
Watch the full hearing here:
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Guest post by Joe Barkai. Original story appeared here.
How Secure is the Internet of Things?
You may have heard me at a conference or read my response to questions concerning the security of the Internet of Things. When asked, I sometimes “refuse” to answer this question. This is not because I do not think that data security—and the closely-related data privacy—are not important; of course they are. But I want to highlight the point that data security and privacy are foundational issues that are not unique to IoT devices. Every enterprise must ensure that all data—IoT generated or not—is secured and that data privacy and ownership are handled properly.
But in light of the recent highly-publicized cyberattacks, and a session with Chris Valasek (who is best known for wirelessly hacking a Jeep wrangler) and Mark Weatherford (past deputy Undersecretary for Cybersecurity at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security), I thought I should provide a brief update.
CCTV Bots Attack the Internet
On October 21, a massive, highly-distributed cyberattack, involving millions of IP addresses and a malicious software, crippled web servers across the U.S., temporarily shutting down DNS services and rendering major Internet sites inaccessible.
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) are not new. But according to web security firm Sucury, this was the first time it had observed an attack powered solely by hacked CCTV devices. The company discovered attackers have compromised more than 25,000 digital video recorders and CCTV cameras, and are using them to launch DDoS attacks against websites.
Taxonomy of IoT Devices
Internet-connected devices, such as the CCTV devices involved in the DDoS cyberattack, are getting cheaper and more powerful. This trend inspires conceptual architectures that place smart, connected devices at the edge of the IoT network.
There are some perfectly good arguments as to why sophisticated devices with autonomous decision authority should reside at the edge of the network. For instance, moving decision-making devices closer to the industrial processes they control improves real-time control and reduces network traffic and information latency.
On the other hand, there are also equally convincing rationales to consider the use of less sophisticated and less autonomous edge devices.
First, devices that do not need to perform complex computational tasks are simpler and cheaper, consume less power, and are less prone to failures. And because of their low computation bandwidth and limited command and control reach, these devices are far less prone to hacking.
Much more importantly, however, many business decisions should not and cannot be performed at the edge device level. While command and control of a single machine can be done locally and autonomously, the type of deep insight that drives predictive analytics and long-term decisions is based on multiple inputs from the broader IoT and business network: multiple machines, multiple production lines, and in multiple locales. These types of analyses and decisions can only be carried out centrally.
There is no single “ideal” architectural. The power of the Internet of Things is in the ability to form a flexible decision-making architecture, and to move analytics and decision making as needed between edge devices (for example, for real-time control), and centralized cloud applications such as fleet optimization.
In my book The Outcome Economy: How the Industrial Internet of Things is Transforming Every Business, I propose a taxonomy of IoT devices, which can serve to determine the level of decision-authority that should be given to different edge devices. The following is a shorter version of this taxonomy description.
The basic building blocks of the Industrial IoT are single-task devices such as sensors, pumps, valves, and motors. These devices can measure and send discrete pieces of information (a sensor) or respond to a simple on/off command (a pump, a valve, or a motor).
An activity-aware object “understands” the physical world in terms of event and activity streams, where each event or activity is directly related to the task the object is to perform: turn on, measure, etc.
The operating model of activity-aware devices is typically a simple linear sequence of data collection and processing functions, such as a time or state series. These devices primarily measure and log data, but do not provide interactive, analytic, or self-governance capabilities.
A policy-aware device is an activity-aware object with an embedded policy model. A policy-aware device can sense and interpret events and activities and respond to them based on predefined operational and organizational policies.
The governance model of policy-aware devices consists of application-specific policies expressed as a set of rules that operate on event and activity streams to create actions. The model provides context-sensitive information about event handling and work-activity performance. In particular, it can issue warnings and alerts if it’s unable to comply with the policy or the operating model.
Many industrial devices, even simple ones, are policy-aware devices. For example, a thermostat in a cold-chain application is commanded to maintain a certain ambient temperature range. In other words, the thermostat has an autonomous decision-making capability to enable it to comply with the policy. An air-conditioning unit and an alarm system are other examples of policy-aware devices.
A process is a collection of related activities that are sequenced in time and space to accomplish a task or a combination of tasks. Process execution rules can be included for dynamic recombination of activities to support a broader range of interrelated activities, tasks, and sub-tasks, and have greater event-handling agility and decision capacity.
A process-aware device is aware of and “understands” the organizational processes that it is a part of. Moreover, it is also aware of other devices in its subnetwork operating in tandem to implement the process and can relate the occurrence of real-world activities and events of these processes to the user.
Cold-chain logistics, process automation and control, robots, and manufacturing execution systems (MES) are examples of process-aware applications.
The application model of process-aware objects is built around a dynamic context-aware workflow model that defines timing and ordering of work activities. Work processes (that is, sequence and timing of activities and events) communicate with others to accomplish predefined, high-level tasks.
Not Everything Than Can Be Connected, Should Be
Every industry survey stresses security concerns as one of the top hurdles in the way of broad adoption, and the publicity of IoT-generated DDoS attacks, which impacted both businesses and individuals, will further erode the confidence of consumers and corporations alike. There’s probably very little damage in curbing the enthusiasm of those that marvel the vision of connected refrigerators and toasters, but the participants in the Industrial IoT and the connected infrastructure overall, should intensify the conversation about standardization, certification and registration, and the delicate balance between enforcement and enticement.
These conversations are critical, but, as stated before, are not limited in scope to the Internet of Things.
While we work to encourage the use of standards, best practices, and better technology, let’s remember that not everything than can be connected, should be. Let’s focus on valuable scenarios rather than the digital chatting between coffee pots and toasters.
(Portions of this articles are from The Outcome Economy: How the Industrial Internet of Things is Transforming Every Business)
The Internet of Things (IoT) is often hyped as the next industrial revolution—and it’s not an overstatement. Its use cases are still being discovered and it has the potential to change life and business as we know it today. But as much as IoT is disruptive, it can also be destructive, and never has this reality been felt as we’re feeling it today.
On Friday, a huge DDoS attack against Dyn DNS servers led to the majority of internet users in the U.S. east coast being shut off from major websites such as Twitter, Amazon, Spotify, Netflix and PayPal.
The culprit behind the attack was a huge botnet. Botnets are armies of zombie computers, vulnerable devices secretly compromised by hackers, which are silently doing the bidding of their masters, the botlords, without their true owners knowing about it.
While botnets and DDoS attacks are nothing new and have been around for a while, the advent and propagation of IoT devices has led to their chaotic growth. There are now millions of vulnerable IoT devices that are easier to access and even easier to hack than, say, computers and tablets that are packed with anti-virus software. That’s why IoT botnets are fast becoming a favorite for bot herders and a real threat for the cybersecurity industry. Put in another way, they are democratizing censorship by enabling any hacker with minimal resources to launch government-level DDoS attacks and bring down sites they don’t like.
This is sad news for the IoT industry. It is now evident more than ever that the IoT industry is in a mess, and it’s going to take more than individual efforts to fix it.
The problem, as I see it, is that all the parties that are directly—or indirectly—involved are either ignorant about security issues or have other priorities.
For their part, manufacturers are too focused on shipping feature-complete devices rather than creating secure and reliable products. After all, the IoT industry is in its gold rush era, and everyone is in a hurry to climb the bandwagon and grab a larger piece of the pie.
And that’s how security concerns take a backseat row in IoT development while timing and costs become prominent.
But why are the manufacturers getting away with their incompetence at securing IoT devices? Because others—namely consumers—couldn’t care less. As the manufacturers will tell you, customers don’t buy security, they buy functionality. They want something that works in an install-and-forget model and don’t want to be pestered with security procedures and practices such as password resets and software updates—and costs for things they can’t directly see with their eyes.
As for governments, they’re concerned about the security of IoT, but they’re not doing enough to regulate it and compel companies to vet their products for security and resilience against attack. The only novel and honest efforts we’ve seen so far include initiatives such as the IoT Security Foundation, but there’s only so much a single organization can do when it’s dealing with billions of potentially vulnerable devices and deaf ears that won’t listen to the voice of reason.
And here we are, almost on the brink of IoT devices outnumbering humans, and already devices of our own making are being used to deny us access to our most vital services and needs.
Friday’s spate of IoT-powered DDoS attacks should serve as a wake-up call, not only for IoT manufacturers, adopters and consumers, but for everyone. Many of the people who were affected by the attacks didn’t even know what IoT is.
So whether you care about IoT or not, it’s in your interest to see it secured.
And as much as I love IoT, I’m sad to see the industry destroying itself.
So what’s the solution? I like the thoughts shared by Bruce Schneier in this Vice Motherboard article, and I’d like to build on those to raise the following points, very concisely:
- Manufacturers should make security an inherent part of their development cycle. Security shouldn’t come as an afterthought but as an integral part of building any IoT or other connected device. And I’ve said this a million times.
- Consumers should take their own security more seriously. Our lives are becoming more connected than before. Internet services and resources are more vital to our daily tasks than any other time in history. So we should be more vigilant about the integrity of the devices that are being connected to the internet and hold their manufacturers to account for the security shortcomings. (Security developer Edward Robles has shared some interesting thoughts on how we should change our mindsets toward security in this guest post.)
- Governments must play a more active role in regulating and controlling IoT security. Standards must be set to make sure every single device that is shipped to the market and connected to the internet complies with a set of security standards and punish organizations that do not abide by the rules.
Of course, no single government can control the security of all the devices being connected to the internet. I’m thinking about a solution based on blockchain technology that will create a global answer to vetting IoT devices for security. I’ll write about it in the future.
What’s urgent is to have a concerted and unified effort to fix the messy state of IoT security. Today, we’re dealing with DDoS attack. Tomorrow, it could be something worse.
There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. For better or for worse, IoT will transform our future. Let’s work together to make sure it’s going to be the former and not the latter.
How do you think we should deal with IoT security problems? Share in the comments section.
The IoT has a big security problem. We've discussed it here, here and here. Adding to these woes is a new report on the Top 10 Internet of Radios Vulnerabilities. Yes, radios...because IoT so much more than data, networking, software, analytics devices, platforms, etc. When you're not hardwired, radio is the only thing keeping you connected. The findings come from Bastille who, like many vendors, has a clear commercial, self-serving interest in the findings, but nonetheless, the study is interesting given the fact that the largest DDoS attack ever was executed using "dumb" connected devices. Bastille defines the Internet of Radios as the combination of mobile, wireless, bring your own device (BYOD), and Internet of Things (IoT) devices operating within the radio frequency (RF) spectrum.
The vulnerabilities are:
- Rogue Cell Towers (‘Stingrays’, ‘IMSI Catchers’)
- Rogue Wi-Fi HotSpots
- Bluetooth Data Exfiltration (tethering)
- Eavesdropping/Surveillance Devices (e.g. conference room bugs)
- Vulnerable Wireless Peripherals (mice/keyboard)
- Unapproved Cellular Device Presence
- Unapproved Wireless Cameras
- Vulnerable Wireless Building Controls
- Unapproved IoT Emitters
- Vulnerable Building Alarm Systems
In addition to the Top 10 list, Bastille has released results of the “Bastille Internet of Radios Security Poll.” Nearly 300 global professionals took part in the poll, offering a snapshot into enterprise awareness and preparedness of Internet of Radios threats in the workplace. The poll was conducted July 26–August 3, 2016 and was comprised of visitors to the Bastille, KeySniffer and MouseJack websites. The majority of respondents (69%) reported they were employed in the IT and cybersecurity industries. Key takeaways:
- 78% of respondents believe the threat from the Internet of Radios will increase in the next 12 months.
- 50% of respondents believe IoT devices are already impacting security.
- 51% of respondents say their companies have adopted a BYOD policy, but only 24% say the policy is strictly enforced.
- 42% of respondents say their organization has not implemented a BYOD policy at all.
- 47% of respondents say their organization is not currently using a Mobile Device Management (MDM) system, compared to 41% that already have one in place.
Photo Credit: Sergio Sena
For IoT and M2M device security assurance, it's critical to introduce automated software development tools into the development lifecycle. Although software tools' roles in quality assurance is important, it becomes even more so when security becomes part of a new or existing product's requirements.
Automated Software Development Tools
There are three broad categories of automated software development tools that are important for improving quality and security in embedded IoT products:
- Application lifecycle management (ALM): Although not specific to security, these tools cover requirements analysis, design, coding, testing and integration, configuration management, and many other aspects of software development. However, with a security-first embedded development approach, these tools can help automate security engineering as well. For example, requirements analysis tools (in conjunction with vulnerability management tools) can ensure that security requirements and known vulnerabilities are tracked throughout the lifecycle. Design automation tools can incorporate secure design patterns and then generate code that avoids known security flaws (e.g. avoiding buffer overflows or checking input data for errors). Configuration management tools can insist on code inspection or static analysis reports before checking in code. Test automation tools can be used to test for "abuse" cases against the system. In general, there is a role for ALM tools in the secure development just as there is for the entire project.
- Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST): Dynamic testing tools all require program execution in order to generate useful results. Examples include unit testing tools, test coverage, memory analyzers, and penetration test tools. Test automation tools are important for reducing the testing load on the development team and, more importantly, detecting vulnerabilities that manual testing may miss.
- Static Application Security Testing (SAST): Static analysis tools work by analyzing source code, bytecode (e,g, compiled Java), and binary executable code. No code is executed in static analysis, but rather the analysis is done by reasoning about the potential behavior of the code. Static analysis is relatively efficient at analyzing a codebase compared to dynamic tools. Static analysis tools also analyze code paths that are untested by other methods and can trace execution and data paths through the code. Static analysis can be incorporated early during the development phase for analyzing existing, legacy, and third-party source and binaries before incorporating them into your product. As new source is added, incremental analysis can be used in conjunction with configuration management to ensure quality and security throughout.
Figure 1: The application of various tool classes in the context of the software development lifecycle.
Although adopting any class of tools helps productivity, security, and quality, using a combination of these is recommended. No single class of tools is the silver bullet. The best approach is one that automates the use of a combination of tools from all categories, and that is based on a risk-based rationale for achieving high security within budget.
The role of static analysis tools in a security-first approach
Static analysis tools provide critical support in the coding and integration phases of development. Ensuring continuous code quality, both in the development and maintenance phases, greatly reduces the costs and risks of security and quality issues in software. In particular, it provides some of the following benefits:
- Continuous source code quality and security assurance: Static analysis is often applied initially to a large codebase as part of its initial integration as discussed below. However, where it really shines is after an initial code quality and security baseline is established. As each new code block is written (file or function), it can be scanned by the static analysis tools, and developers can deal with the errors and warnings quickly and efficiently before checking code into the build system. Detecting errors and vulnerabilities (and maintaining secure coding standards, discussed below) in the source at the source (developers themselves) yields the biggest impact from the tools.
- Tainted data detection and analysis: Analysis of the data flows from sources (i.e. interfaces) to sinks (where data gets used in a program) is critical in detecting potential vulnerabilities from tainted data. Any input, whether from a user interface or network connection, if used unchecked, is a potential security vulnerability. Many attacks are mounted by feeding specially-crafted data into inputs, designed to subvert the behavior of the target system. Unless data is verified to be acceptable both in length and content, it can be used to trigger error conditions or worse. Code injection and data leakage are possible outcomes of these attacks, which can have serious consequences.
- Third-party code assessment: Most projects are not greenfield development and require the use of existing code within a company or from a third party. Performing testing and dynamic analysis on a large existing codebase is hugely time consuming and may exceed the limits on the budget and schedule. Static analysis is particularly suited to analyzing large code bases and providing meaningful errors and warnings that indicate both security and quality issues. GrammaTech CodeSonar binary analysis can analyze binary-only libraries and provide similar reports as source analysis when source is not available. In addition, CodeSonar binary analysis can work in a mixed source and binary mode to detect errors in the usage of external binary libraries from the source code.
- Secure coding standard enforcement: Static analysis tools analyze source syntax and can be used to enforce coding standards. Various code security guidelines are available such as SEI CERT C  and Microsoft's Secure Coding Guidelines . Coding standards are good practice because they prevent risky code from becoming future vulnerabilities. As mentioned above, integrating these checks into the build and configuration management system improves the quality and security of code in the product.
As part of a complete tools suite, static analysis provides key capabilities that other tools cannot. The payback for adopting static analysis is the early detection of errors and vulnerabilities that traditional testing tools may miss. This helps ensure a high level of quality and security on an on-going basis.
Machine to machine and IoT device manufacturers incorporating a security-first design philosophy with formal threat assessments, leveraging automated tools, produce devices better secured against the accelerating threats on the Internet. Modifying an existing successful software development process that includes security at the early stages of product development is key. Smart use of automated tools to develop new code and analyze existing and third party code allows development teams to meet strict budget and schedule constraints. Static analysis of both source and binaries plays a key role in a security-first development toolset.
- No Silver Bullet – Essence and Accident in Software Engineering, Fred Brooks, 1986
- SEI CERT C Coding Standard,
- Outsource Code Development Driving Automated Test Tool Market, VDC Research, IoT & Embedded Blog, October 22, 2013
Originally Posted by: Shawn Wasserman
Shodan search results show that over half a million devices use the 10-year-old OpenSSH 4.3 software. This puts all these devices at risk.
During a presentation at PTC LiveWorx 2016, Rob Black, senior director of product management at PTC, outlined how black hat hackers could get into over half a million connected devices using an old software known as OpenSSH 4.3.
OpenSSH is a secure shell (SSH) protocol used to allow users access to networks from a remote location. It’s harmless, even useful, if used by the right user in a controlled way.
Unfortunately, a popular version of the software, OpenSSH 4.3, has been out for about a decade. As a result, it has developed a laundry list of vulnerabilities that hackers can use to gain access to systems.
According to the Shodan IoT device search engine, over half a million devices on the ‘net still use this outdated software.
“Half a million devices are on the open Internet with 10-year-old software that allows you to tunnel inside to their network. Who thinks that’s good?” Black rhetorically questioned. “This is one example. One search. One software. One version of a software. There are millions of exposed resources on the Internet.”
The scary thing is that Black explained that some search results will bring up IoT devices associated with power plants and wind tunnels. According to AdaptiveMobile, a mobile network security company, up to 80 percent of connected devices on the IoT do not have the security measures they need to protect us. Once you find a device on Shodan, you can see many characteristics on that device which will help hackers get into it.
These attacks can even prove deadly depending on the IoT application. Take an integrated clinical environment (ICE) like an IoT-enabled hospital. Without proper security, many types of attacks have the potential to risk lives. According to a report published by the Industrial Internet Consortium, these attacks fall into five categories.
Engineers are designing these IoT devices, sensors and edge points. To ensure that hackers are kept at bay, these engineers need to understand and learn from their software engineer and IT cousins.
“From a design point of view, engineers need to learn about hacking security. You need security at the edge point to make an intelligent analytic device,” said Michael Wendenburg, CEO at Michael Wendendenburg Online Redaktion. “If you hack into that point, you hack into all this data. Engineers are not prepared for that.”
Black agreed, saying, “It’s our role as practitioners of IoT is to really manage those devices that we have in a smart way.”
How Do IoT and Cloud Security Differ?
Black explained that unlike in cloud security, humans may not be in the loop when it comes to IoT security. It’s not feasible for millions of users to be there to hit “Okay” to update software in billions of devices.
An engineer might think that as long as the cloud system utilized by the IoT device is secure, then all is well. However, there are differences between an IoT system and a cloud system.
Black explained that on the cloud, users and applications are both managed. There are security tools and permissions put into place. On the operations side, servers will be secured and ports will be closed and audited. This takes a lot of testing, but it’s been done before. IoT security, on the other hand, adds complexity.
“Cloud security has been around for a long time and there are lots of good strong practices and management around cloud applications. For IoT, the key difference is we connect things,” clarified Black. “A lot of the challenge is the number of devices to manage and the differences between these devices.”
“There are a bunch of new issues out there like rogue sensors and rogue data sources,” said Andy Rhodes, division head of IoT at Dell. “If you’re orchestrating a turbine or a damn and someone hacks into that and changes the settings, then there are catastrophic issues.”
Here are some other key differences between cloud and IoT applications:
- IoT has a stronger potential for damage as water mains can be shut off, power plants can become critical and cars made unresponsive on the road.
- IoT has a diverse number of devices, operating systems and protocols making it hard to consolidate and standardize as companies grow and products change.
- Human interactions with all the devices is not scalable. For instance, humans many not be there to hit “Okay” for an update.
The key is to work together. Engineers and IT professionals need to demolish their silos and learn from one another to make the IoT ecosystem secure. However, just because the IT crew has the ecosystem covered on the cloud doesn’t mean the devices and sensors are secure.
“IT [Information Technology] knows how to do security and a lot of this is still traditional IT security working alongside the OT [Operations Technology] people to understand how to secure the sensors as well,” described Rhodes. “You need [security on the device] and network security on the IT side because data flows two ways so you have to secure both ends of that spectrum.”
How to Manage Your Connected Device
Black demonstrating an IoT security architecture.
With current IoT trends, if your device isn’t connected to the Internet, it soon will be. Otherwise, it will not keep up with the 30 billion other connected devices Gartner expects to see in the market by 2020.
So the question may not be whether to get into the IoT market given all the security risks. It should be a question of how to manage connected devices with all these security risks.
Black demonstrated what a simple IoT architecture might look like. It includes devices within a firewall, wireless devices outside the firewall and having those devices connecting into the IoT platform. Then, all of this will be used in an application that will use the data from the devices to perform a function. All of these systems, applications and development tools used to make the system must be made secure.
The issue is that because all of these different systems are under the control of various organizations on the vendor, customer and public levels, it can be confusing to establish who is really responsible for all of this IoT security.
“I argue that for IoT we have a shared security responsibility,” noted Black. “This is not a one-entity responsibility. It is shared between the providers of the infrastructure, service, platform, application and the end customers.”
Importance of User Roles on IoT Security
Given all of the organizations and users that might be associated with one IoT system, defining roles for these organizations and users is of high importance.
Each user and organization will have different roles, which will define levels of control over the IoT system. For instance, you don’t want to give your customers visibility into and control over all of the IoT devices on your ecosystem. This could make the data of your other customers insecure, as competitors might gain insights due to the information on your system and the lack of roles governing the system.
However, a maintenance team that services all the devices sent to customers will need to see which devices from each customer will be up for servicing.
The key takeaway is that as your system grows on the IoT, much of this role management should be automated. Otherwise, the role management will not scale with the IoT system if a human remains in the role assignment loop.
“From a visibility and permission standpoint, what you really want are mechanisms to drive that behavior,” instructed Black. “When new devices are added, if you have a manual process, that is not going to scale when you [have] tens of thousands of devices. You are going to need a system that drives this behavior automatically. You just need to set the rules beforehand to ensure the users are put in the right groups.”
Division of Systems is Key to a Secure IoT Ecosystem
The division of permissions shouldn’t just be between roles. It should also be between systems within the IoT device itself. Engineers must design some systems and subsystems to be independent and separate from all other systems. This will ensure that if a hacker compromises your device, they will not be able to take control of key systems.
After all, there is no reason for an entertainment system in a car to be linked to the steering, brakes and accelerator of a car. As the WIRED video below shows, though, this was the case with the Jeep Cherokee. As a result, hackers were able to mess with one reporter’s drive on the highway with hilarious outcomes—but the joke isn’t funny anymore if people actually get hurt.
“The way some of these systems are designed, if you have access to this you have access to multiple design elements in the car,” said Frank Antonysamy, head of engineering and manufacturing solutions at Cognizant. “The way we are dealing with this is to isolate as much as possible and then get the data.”
“When you look at it from a system design [perspective], in an automobile for example, there is still a fair amount of isolation written into the design,” said Antonysamy. “Because I have access to my control panel doesn’t mean I have access to the accelerator. That kind of design-based isolation is critical at least until we get a zero-vulnerability scenario.”
Eric van Gemeren, vice president of R&D at Flowserve, explained that the automobile industry and other IoT device creators can learn a lot from the process industry on the separation of systems within a design.
“In the process industry, it’s different from having a car that’s IoT-enabled and someone can hack into it,” said van Gemeren. “In the process industry, there are well-established IEC [International Electrotechnical Commission] and ISO [International Organization for Standardization] standards for safety and compliance. The control communication network is always separate and independent from the diagnostics and asset management network. It’s very clear that when you design that solution, there are certain features and functions that will never be available through wireless, in a discrete controlled domain, with an entirely different protocols and with robust security on top of it.”
“A lot of the stuff we are talking about in the IoT space is all about gathering outbound asset information,” added van Gemeren. “You can’t send back control information or directions that can hijack the device.”
In other words, van Gemeren explained that if a safety system like fire suspension sprinklers were installed in a process plant, they will need to be on an isolated system.
Do Your Devices Need to Talk to Other Devices?
Black explained the scenarios in which you need to use device-to-device
When people think about the IoT, many of them think of connected devices communicating with each other over the Internet.
Though there are situations when the data should be sent to the cloud, there are also situations where it is faster and more efficient for devices to talk to each other directly.
“You could go up to the cloud and negotiate up there and bring it back down but that is not using bandwidth efficiently and what happens if you lose network connectivity? Will your devices fail? Do you want them to be dependent on the network?” asked Black.
When connected device need to talk directly, you will need a way to authenticate the devices mutually as well as a method of authorizing the devices to an appropriate level of interactions.
“It doesn’t make sense for one car to have the authorization to turn on the windshield wipers for another car,” joked Black.
The Importance of Provisioning and Approval of an IoT Device
This brings us to another key step in setting up a secure IoT system: ensuring your processes can set up provisioning and approval for device-to-device communication, data ownership, de-provisioning and more.
“Any process that runs off of administration approval will fail on an IoT scale,” remarked Black. This is similar to the creation of roles the human needs to be out of the loop. Black added, “You can’t design a process based on admin approval—it might work for a hundred devices but it won’t work on a large-scale system.”
Unfortunately, you can’t just let all devices interconnect without a provisioning and approval process either. Take the Superfish scandal, for example. The program was intended to provide advertisers with a way to show ads based on a user’s Internet searches.
This sounds innocuous enough until you realize that, at the time, all Lenovo laptops had the same self-signed certification key for all the laptops that shipped out with the program. This allowed for man-in-the-middle hacking attacks that could intercept the Internet communications of any Lenovo laptop with the Superfish program still installed.
“Ensuring trust when you’re bootstrapping a device is challenging even big laptop manufacturers can make mistakes,” said Black. “We need to think through some of those processes to see how do we get secrets onto a device. You need a well-defined mechanism for establishing trust on your device.”
One method Black suggested to get your devices onto your IoT system with secure provisioning and approval is to use your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. If your ERP system were connected to the IoT system, then the provisioning and approval process will expect to see the device. Not only would this system be secure, it can also be made scalable as there will be no need to have a human in the loop.
The Importance of De-Provisioning When You Re-Sell a Connected Device
Black explained the importance of factory resets and de-provisioning when selling used devices.
There is a lot of confidential information that can be stored on a connected device. Therefore, if users aren’t careful, they could be giving a hacker everything they need to get into the system when re-selling these devices.
The average user would know enough to delete their personal and business data from the device, but there still might be information on the re-sold device that can open doors to hackers.
For instance, the device might store digital keys that were used to encrypt the data you were sending and receiving from the Internet. If you were to sell that equipment without changing those keys, then whomever you sold that equipment to could now be able to decrypt all of the data you sent and received while operating the device. Assuming the hacker intercepted that data in full knowledge that you were to sell the equipment, they now have gathered a lot of information on your personal or business operations.
As a result, engineers should design easy to use de-provisioning procedures for the users of their devices.
Whose Data Is It Anyway? Where the Contract’s Made Up and Protection Should Matter.
Black asked the question: Whose data is it anyway?
One point of contention for the development of IoT security is the question of who owns the data.
Is it the device manufacturer, systems operator, device operator or the maintenance operator?
Will the answer be dependent on the IoT device application?
These questions need answers if robust security measures are to be put into place. Otherwise, the right information might end up in the wrong hands.
“We’ve seen a range of responses about data ownership and a lot revolves around privacy,” said Colm Pendergast, director of IoT technology at Analog Devices. “To a large extent, it will come down to negotiations between various partners in an ecosystem.”
“[Who owns the data] is a question that is always on the table,” said Chris May, account executive at ARIDEA SOLUTIONS. “It depends on the type of data being acquired. If it’s general weather data, then people are not very concerned. The weather is the weather… When you get to environmental data, it’s a completely different story. They are very protective of that data. [What] If the wrong person gets that data and they don’t understand how to interpret it? [What] if they can’t understand it’s a sensor being recalibrated and they think a water shed was contaminated? It would be massive lawsuits.”
It appears that though 54 percent of surveyed consumers might be comfortable sharing their data with companies, the reverse is not always true.
Alternatively, Black used an example of a medical device company. If the company is sold, then it makes sense for whomever buys the company to also own the data. After all, it will, in theory, be using said data to service the same clients. It isn’t in the client’s interest for the data to start at point zero.
However, does the answer of selling data ownership change with the scenario? What if, instead of a company being sold, it’s a house? Who owns all the data of the smart home—the previous tenants or the incoming tenants? It might be useful for the new tenants to know the power usage history of the house so they can budget their expenses, but do you want strangers to have data like that?
“When you think about how many different entities are involved with an IoT implementation, there are a lot of them,” said Black. “Some of them probably have rights to some of that data and some it’s probably better if they don’t have it.”
Before security walls are put up for an IoT device, these questions must be answered. Otherwise, an owner of the data might be cut off from their property. This can lead to some serious legal ramifications. On the other hand, not understanding where the line in the sand is for data can also open up security risks.
“If there was one single challenge that people are concerned about and has slowed IoT deployments is the question of security and integrating security solutions all over that technology stack. It is one of the bigger challenges,” said Pendergast.
However, one solutions to the IoT data question may not lie with the engineers, programmers or designers. It might be in the hands of public relations educating the public about IoT security and what data is and isn’t being collected.
“We deal with the medical device market and we constantly face the issue that we can’t send patient data—and we are a cloud-based platform, so that is a challenge,” said Puneet Pandit, CEO of Glassbeam. “We are not taking the patient data; we are taking the operation data. I think that is a constant question. There is a lot of education that has to be done in the industry to clarify what IoT data means at the end of the day. People have created security barriers for all the right reasons, but in the context of IoT you are taking machine and operational data and that isn’t something that is included on data privacy.”
Reducing IoT Attack Surfaces: Do You Need Access to the Open Web?
Shodan is only able to show the IoT devices that are on the open web. The number, as well as types, of devices that it can find is certainly scary.
“[Security is] still the top-two or -three concern of customers when you read surveys and speak to them,” said Rhodes. “What you’ve basically done is you’ve opened up a surface of attack either as a gateway or the things themselves.”
Does your device need to be on the open web? Do multiple surfaces of attack need to exist? The answer is no—not if engineers design the device to be the one to initiate communications.
“Different IoT solutions have the capability to perform device-initiated communication,” said Black. “That means that from a connection standpoint, if your device initiates communications, then that device is exclusively paired with one server on the cloud. That device is only going to communicate with that server.”
In other words, the device won’t be generally available on the Internet.
“It’s something to think about. Can I communicate with this device from every [access point] on the earth or is it tied to a single server? Because you are really reducing your attack surface with that kind of capability,” Black explained. “You reduce your attack surface so you are not worried about everything in the world. You are only connected to a very limited set of servers.”
If your device can connect to any endpoint on the Internet, then any hacker at any location could in theory send a command to that device. However, if the device is connected only to one server via a device-initiated communication, then only that server can send commands. The theory is that your server will be within internal IT infrastructures and securities.
However, there is a downside to device-initiated connectivity. You will have to rely on the device to connect to the system in order to initiate an update or collect data. In other words, you can lose connections to the device as soon as a customer changes firewall securities or the network is interrupted.
As a result, if engineers chooses to use device-initiated connections for an IoT system, then they will need to inform the customer. The customer will need to understand if the firewall and network connection isn’t interfering with the connection.
“We’ve seen a lot of software partners changing their architecture to support intermittent connectivity,” said Gerald Kleyn, director of engineering at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). “In some cases, if the weather gets bad and [satellite communication] goes down, then when it comes back up it starts releasing things that have been stored on the edge back up to the cloud.”
What to Do When You Find a Vulnerability on Your Connected Device
The longer your device is in the real world, the more likely it is that a vulnerability will be found. As a result, engineers will need to design software update compatibility into their devices.
“You need a software distribution mechanism that will work for all of your devices that’s scalable, secure, flexible and efficient,” said Black. “It needs to be flexible because all your devices are different, so they need different processes and procedures.”
“You need to be able to say, if the install isn’t going right, that you need to hold back and notify your system. You need to be able to say, ‘do this for North America first, or Europe or everyone but that customer that doesn’t want updates,’” added Black. “Without a plan, you will be sad when the next Heartbleed comes out. You are going to have to patch. So what is the mechanism you are going to utilize?”
This all must seem very complicated, but much of this IoT security issues will be answered when you choose the IoT platform to run, manage design the system. Black says that when choosing your IoT platform, keep these three main security challenges in mind:
- Managing the complex interactions between devices and user
- Patching security updates to your devices in an easy and secure fashion
- Reducing the risk by mitigating cyber-attacks form finding your device
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The latest developments in IoT security will protect the companies that use them from disastrous hacks
Rob Enderle writing in CIO Magazine May 20 about a new security certification for IOT products lauded the new offering and cited other measures that responsible IoT businesses must take to secure the future of their companies. His opinion piece couldn’t come at a better time.
Those of us watching the IOT “back door” swing open to hackers have been wondering how and when a product certification like this would become industry standard. Underwriter Laboratory’s Cybersecurity Assurance Program (CAP) just might work. But it’s only a start.
The three-level certification process, according to Enderle, will work fine as long as it’s subject to a “rigorous audit process.” However, he also agrees that using a remote network hub with security stopgaps in place (which is what most are doing now) won’t do a thing to protect wireless devices.
Where we are now, where we need to go
During the NXP/FTF Technology Forum 2016, a group of panelists was asked if the Internet of Things was secure yet. What do you think they answered? Yes, they said, no.
Here’s the rub—and the same thing that Enderle writes about: The connected devices in cars, homes, phones need to have specialty security hardware to stop many attacks. Another missing link, according to Global Business Development Manager Damon Kachur at Symantec, is the need to institute “a massive education process compelling security providers to educate consumers on how to operate their devices securely.”
Using cryptography, requiring several rounds of authentication per day, and manufacturers hiring hackers to break into their IoT devices before they put them on the assembly line—these were also solutions that Forum panelists came up with to secure the IoT.
Horror stories averted?
The stories with the highest profiles are those that see connected cars taken over and crashed; cell phones hijacked and set on fire; and that Target breach, when hackers stole credit cards from Target headquarters using the building’s HVAC systems to get in. What else do we need to do, besides work on certification processes and make sure that before we build the next IoT device, we’ve protected it from hackers?
It’s clear that businesses engaged in the IoT revolution need to make security “job one”. There are heartening signs that this indeed is the case. A recent Accenture paper on IOT security claimed that “businesses surveyed by the World Economic Forum identified cyber-attack vulnerabilities as their most important IoT concern.” And an article last month in Forbes reported that venture capitalists are now “following the money” to underwrite cybersecurity start-ups: “Boston-based Lux Research says investment in “cyberphysical” security startups rose 78% to $228 million in 2015, and will increase to $400 million this year. The report cites rapid adoption of IoT tech, with the potential threats it brings in the area of internet connectivity in cars, homes and factories.”
Businesses that are eager to make money on the IOT without being willing to spend the money on securing it will be increasingly prone to customer data breaches and other high-profile disasters that will close their doors—and slow the adoption of IoT devices—and spending—for years to come. Smart companies need to make an investment in securing their latest IoT game changing use-case or product-- or their customers and partners won’t want to make an investment in them.
The Internet of Things is changing the world, heralded as one of the most pivotal technology trends of the modern era. We are getting ready to enter a time where everything, quite literally, is connected to the Internet.
For the industrial sector, this is a new area of exploration. Factories have smart infrastructures that use sensors to relay data about machine performance. Cities have smart grids that monitor everything from traffic to the energy used by streetlights. Hospitals can monitor the health of high-risk, at-home patients.
In other words, we are entering a hacker's dream world.
Recent attacks, like the Christmas 2015 attack on the Ukraine power grid, have shown that the Internet of Things possesses severe vulnerabilities. These weak points can be everything from back doors that allow a hacker access to a system to lack of proper use by untrained workers. If your business uses IoT devices, there’s a good chance they are not secure.
Why are so many systems left vulnerable? Weaknesses often come from the same set of five drivers:
Whether your company is struggling because your devices were deployed too quickly or operational costs constraints got in the way, your team must take measures to fix security risks. Here are four security flaws:
1. Lack of Encryption
Any device that is connected to the Internet to relay data needs encryption. When communication between devices and facility machines are now encrypted, it provides a doorway for hackers to send malicious updates, steal data, and even take control of the system.
In 2014, an Israeli security firm took control of cars using a specific connected telematics device that failed to use proper encryption.
2. Failing to Install Updates
Once you have a machine-to-machine communication system working properly, it can be easy to forget to install the necessary updates to keep the network secure.
Yet, hackers are constantly updating their strategies and tactics. Failing to install updates and patches leaves your system vulnerable.
Even if you’re worried about breaking integrations between systems, you should at the least install every security update released by the vendor. These updates are specifically designed to address vulnerabilities discovered in your devices. After all, if your vendor releases a security update, it’s because they found a problem.
You also should know that updates and patches are not always the final solution to security vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, many manufacturers are not able or willing to provide the necessary support to continue updating their devices.
To avoid this risk, shop carefully for systems that provide updates and are backed by a trusted company.
3. Poorly Built Networks
The modern industrial network is designed to get tasks done. If the design focuses too much on completing that task, it will leave weak points in security. Things that are obvious when building IT networks are sometimes less obvious when creating industrial DNP3 and other network architecture.
The solution to this risk is fairly simple. Those tasked with building industrial networks need to ensure they are partnering with IT professionals to build networks that are safer from attacks. Security features, like deep packet inspection and network segmentation, should be in place from the beginning.
4. Sensors Outside of the Company's Control
Most of the sensors and other connected pieces that make up a network are controlled by the company. But for some companies, that is not the case. For example, power companies have sensors in their customer's homes.
Sensors outside of the company's immediate control are hard to secure, which gives hackers access. Currently, cloud-based security using public key services to authenticate devices may be the best solution to this problem.
Don't Take The Risk
Industrial security breaches can cause devastating consequences. Therefore, the above risks need to be addressed.
As more industrial facilities rely on the Internet of Things, it's important for company teams to be aware of the potential vulnerabilities. Take security into full consideration.
Last year, the number of smartphones in the world hit a new record. Out of the 4.55 billion cell phone users worldwide, 1.75 billion of those were using smartphones. Users are rapidly switching to smartphones as these devices become more affordable, and as 3G and 4G networks are introduced into key markets, allowing faster than ever data transfer rates. For businesses, this increasing smartphone penetration has significant implications. As more businesses adopt BYOD (Bring your own Device), IT security professionals and CIO leaders will need to address the issues of security that are introduced as business data is taken on the road, and exposed to external networks.
How Does BYOD Impact IT Security?
Data security consultants, and anyone involved in information technology or management, will need to be clear on the risks that are introduced with BYOD.
A company that allows BYOD is able to receive great benefits from doing so. Systems that allow for users to bring their own devices mean that staff are able to use devices that are familiar to them, which can reduce training time and increase efficiency. At the same time, businesses can save significant amounts of money on IT procurement, because users are bringing their own cell phones, tablets, and even laptops, from home.
There are even benefits to recruiting - new hires will be more comfortable with their own device and the option to bring it in, instead of having to juggle phones and computers.
Even with these key advantages, there are some problem to overcome. The biggest challenge with BYOD is security. A BYOD device would be almost worthless if it didn’t have sufficient access to a corporate network, so that a staff member can easily obtain the information and run the applications that they need to perform their jobs. This means opening up access to systems which would have previously been protected by closed networks accessed by in-house devices, with security enforced through strict and robust security policies.
Another challenge exists when employees leave a company. Because they take their devices with them, there needs to be a mechanism in place that prevents access from devices that are no longer associated with an authorized staff member. Compared to a model without BYOD, this adds another layer of security, and a number of process layers within the organizational structure of a business. Without addressing this type of situation, businesses would be putting themselves at significant risk.
Security Is Even More Important than Ever with IoT
The Internet of Things has been called the future of business, computing, and entertainment. Indeed, IoT covers all of these areas, whether you look at a smart TV, an internet capable MRI machine, or even the cloud services that deliver email, streaming video, or music, to devices that will work from anyplace where there is an internet connection.
IoT exists in complex industries, too. Consider a production line that utilizes networked sensors along the line, which then transmit data in real time between ordering systems, packing robots, and even dispatch centers, to coordinate logistics. Considering the data that is collected using IoT sensors, and then the possibilities there are to interface with this data by using BYOD devices, it becomes clear that a system utilizing IoT technologies and BYOD access policies, needs to be secured to the highest industry standards.
Security breaches could mean that an unauthorized party is able to gain access to production data or even sensitive manufacturing secrets, or that a previous employee is able to take data and learnings to a competitor, using their own device that was once legitimately authorized through BYOD policies.
Similar risks exist in any industry. If you are an IT data security consultant within a contact center business, you could be tasked with protecting CRM systems, billing information, payment gateways, and other critical systems. Sales reps, telephone agents, and remote staff could all be using BYOD devices to connect to a decentralized cloud solution. Ensuring that access control and other security measures are present, will be a core aspect of the solutions that you design and implement. The reality is that a single violation can expose your entire network, making it critical to hire the right people and solve for these problems internally and for your clients.
Who are The Big Players in IT Security Today?
You only need to look at the world’s largest information security consultancies to see that data security is a big business.
Deloitte, currently the biggest player in IT security, made over $2 billion in revenue from security consulting in 2014. Other leading companies are seeing similar growth, with all of the top five, including IBM and KPMG, seeing revenue growth in security consulting. All of the top five exceeded 5% growth between 2013 and 2014.
This means that not only is there a clear growing need for security consulting, but also that there will be an increased demand for IT security consultants who are experienced in the latest technologies, including cloud and IoT technologies. The demand has been partially spurred on by high profile data security breaches, especially those at government level.
Businesses and Professionals Should Prepare for a Growing Market
Not only do businesses need to assess and respond to their needs regarding BYOD, IT security, and overall risk management, but they will need to begin to seek the most qualified consultants to lead their security initiatives.
Likewise, qualified candidates who are entering the job market need to seek out the most promising opportunities. Such as those that exist with businesses where they will have the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise in new and emerging IT technologies.
Moving forward, the businesses and professionals who recognize the importance and opportunity within data security consultancy, will be the ones who benefit the most in the next five years, when both IoT and IT Security are expected to experience drastic market growth.
How are you hiring to fill the need? Let's talk and see how your BYOD security concerns can be solved with a single hire - IOT Security Officer.
By 2016, the worldwide data security market is expected to approach almost $90 billion in total value. This means that security is big business, and it should be. Data security has become increasingly critical as businesses utilize increasingly complex technology. Likewise, businesses that are directly involved in technology, such as Internet of Things and connected devices startups, cloud service providers, and even internet service providers, all have a vested interest in maintaining the security of their data.
Three Core Influencers on the Security Market
There are three core areas of influence that are driving the key players in data security consulting. Market influencers, according to Gartner Research, include BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), big data, and the security threats themselves.
BYOD is changing the way that SMBs and enterprise clients think about security. In the past, security solutions could be rolled out and controlled across a limited number of devices that were usually owned and maintained by employers. Today, it is more common for executives and staff at all levels to bring their own devices, which can then connect to company applications and networks. This creates the challenge of implementing robust security policies and technologies that can cover a range of devices and access methods.
Increased connectivity has led to increasing levels of "big data" in business. Considering all of the channels where data is collected, whether it be through software, customer interactions, or even data that comes from IoT connected devices, it is becoming critical that big data is not only collected, identified, and categorized, but that it is kept secure. Security in the future will be essential for protecting IP, trade sensitive information, and maintaining privacy.
Finally, the increasing number of security threats that are present, are reshaping the market, and will continue to do so in the future. In addition to the attacks and exploits that have been common in the past, data security consulting professionals now have new technologies where compromises must be patched and anticipated. IoT devices, SaaS solutions, and an increasingly widespread cloud adoption will be major factors that shape the needs of future data security.
Data Security Consulting: What is Hot?
Recent graduates, professionals looking for new opportunities, and even CIOs within existing organizations can anticipate the opportunities and needs, by identifying current roles and niches in the data security consulting market.
A data security role may be completely specialized, or in some cases, generalized and more leadership based, depending on the size of an organization.
Information security can be broken down into two main areas. These areas are hardware, and software. A data security consultant may be expected to have a wider understanding of their industry, but in reality they will only specialize in some key areas. This means that employers need to be specific about who they’re looking for and the technologies that they use. It also means that jobseekers need to be upfront about their expertise, or they may risk finding themselves in a position that is beyond their current skillset, which could lead to career impacting underperformance.
As a consultant, the role is to advise, develop, and implement change. This change is usually to address a problem that already exists. In the case of data security, this could mean that a security threat has already been identified, or it could be to mitigate possible threats with new technologies.
Consultants need superior application and network penetration skills. This means that they should be able to break down, and analyze the way that software works within any environment. This includes input and output channels. Networks need to be understood in the same way. The purpose of this knowledge, is to identify where risks exist, or where existing security breaches are occurring.
Software algorithms are known to provide false positives, so a consultant needs to be able to identify these, and should have skill in determining viable threats. This will help the consultant to allocate resources where they are most necessary, which can benefit their employer, financially.
Consultants should build an understanding of the technologies used by their employer. Whenever working on a contract, a consultant will deal with systems that they are unfamiliar with. Understanding the underlying technologies will be critical to implementing successful security solutions. This may require knowledge of cloud computing and infrastructure, IoT protocols and industry practices, or even specifics of networking or programming languages.
Successful consultants will be experts in risk management. This should not just include software and hardware, but also their employer’s strategy when it comes to risk management. Some companies are willing to accept higher levels of risk, while some have more stringent expectations. Understanding the culture of any particular company will be critical.
As Data Becomes More Important, Security Consulting Becomes a Necessity
It does not matter whether a business processes EPS payments, collects consumer information for a large retail operation, or even deals exclusively in cloud technology and the Internet of Things. The reality is that, as long as they are collecting and storing data, they will need dedicated security professionals.
Protecting that data for commercial and privacy reasons, will best be achieved with the right candidates, who have the skills and experience to deal with security threats in the modern business landscape.
I found a great resource for planning for and making decisions about information security at the Gartner Research Security and Risk Management page.
While we aren’t exactly “following the yellow brick road” these days, you may be feeling a bit like Dorothy from the “Wizard of Oz” when it comes to these topics. No my friend, you aren’t in Kansas anymore! As seem above from Topsy, these three subjects are extremely popular these days and for the last 30 days seem to follow a similar pattern (coincidence?).
The internet of things is not just a buzzword and is no longer a dream, with sensors abound. The world is on its way to become totally connected, although it will take time to work out a few kinks here and there (with a great foundation, you create a great product; this foundation is what will take the most time). Your appliances will talk to you in your “smart house” and your “self-driving car” will take you to your super tech office where you will work with ease thanks to all the wonders of technology. But let’s step back to reality and think, how is all this going to come about, what will we do with all the data collected and how will we protect it?
First thing first is all the sensors have to be put in place, and many questions have to be addressed. Does a door lock by one vendor communicate with a light switch by another vendor, and do you want the thermostat to be part of the conversation and will anyone else be able to see my info or get into my home? http://www.computerworld.com/article/2488872/emerging-technology/explained--the-abcs-of-the-internet-of-things.html
How will all the needed sensors be installed and will there be any “human” interaction? It will take years to put in place all the needed sensors but there are some that are already engaging in the IOT here in the US. Hotels (as an example but not the only one investing in IOT) are using sensors connected to products that they are available for sale in each room, which is great but I recently had an experience with how “people” are the vital part of “IOT” – I went to check out of a popular hotel in Vegas, when I was asked if I drank one of the coffees in the room, I replied, “no, why” and was told that the sensor showed that I had either drank or moved the coffee, the hotel clerk verified that I had “moved” and not “drank” the coffee but without her, I would have been billed and had to refute the charge. Refuting charges are not exactly good for business and customers service having to handle “I didn’t purchase this” disputes 24/7 wouldn’t exactly make anyone’s day, so thank goodness for human interactions right there on the spot.
“The Internet of Things” is not just a US effort - Asia, in my opinion, is far ahead of the US, as far as the internet of things is concerned. If you are waiting in a Korean subway station, commuters can browse and scan the QR codes of products which will later be delivered to their homes. (Source: Tesco) - Transport for London’s central control centers use the aggregated sensor data to deploy maintenance teams, track equipment problems, and monitor goings-on in the massive, sprawling transportation system. Telent’s Steve Pears said in a promotional video for the project that "We wanted to help rail systems like the London Underground modernize the systems that monitor it’s critical assets—everything from escalators to lifts to HVAC control systems to CCTV and communication networks." The new smart system creates a computerized and centralized replacement for a public transportation system that used notebooks and pens in many cases. http://www.fastcolabs.com/3030367/the-london-underground-has-its-own-internet-of-things
But isn't the Internet of Things too expensive to implement? Many IoT devices rely on multiple sensors to monitor the environment around them. The cost of these sensors declined 50% in the past decade, according to Goldman Sachs. We expect prices to continue dropping at a steady rate, leading to an even more cost-effective sensor. http://www.businessinsider.com/four-elements-driving-iot-2014-10
The Internet of Things is not just about gathering of data but also about the analysis and use of data. So all this data generated by the internet of thing, when used correctly, will help us in our everyday life as consumer and help companies keep us safer by predicting and thus avoiding issues that could harm or delay, not to mention the costs that could be reduced from patterns in data for transportation, healthcare, banking, the possibilities are endless.
Let’s talk about security and data breaches – Now you may be thinking I’m in analytics or data science why should I be concerned with security? Let’s take a look at several breaches that have made the headlines lately.
Target recently suffered a massive security breach thanks to attacker infiltrating a third party. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-03-13/target-missed-alarms-in-epic-hack-of-credit-card-data and so did Home depot http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/11/06/home-depot-hackers-stolen-data/18613167/ PC world said “Data breach trends for 2015: Credit cards, healthcare records will be vulnerable http://www.pcworld.com/article/2853450/data-breach-trends-for-2015-credit-cards-healthcare-records-will-be-vulnerable.html
Sony was hit by hackers on Nov. 24, resulting in a company wide computer shutdown and the leak of corporate information, including the multimillion-dollar pre-bonus salaries of executives and the Social Security numbers of rank-and-file employees. A group calling itself the Guardians of Peace has taken credit for the attacks. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/04/business/sony-pictures-and-fbi-investigating-attack-by-hackers.html?_r=0
So how do we protect ourselves in a world of BIG DATA and the IOT?
Why should I – as a data scientist or analyst be worried about security, that’s not really part of my job is it? Well if you are a consultant or own your own business it is! Say, you download secure data from your clients and then YOU get hacked, guess who is liable if sensitive information is leaked or gets into the wrong hands? What if you develop a platform where the client’s customers can log in and check their accounts, credit card info and purchase histories are stored on this system, if stolen, it can set you up for a lawsuit. If you are a corporation, you are protected in some extents but what if you operate as a sole proprietor – you could lose your home, company and reputation. Still think security when dealing with big data isn’t important?
Organizations need to get better at protecting themselves and discovering that they’ve been breached plus we, the consultants, need to do a better job of protecting our own data and that means you can’t use password as a password! Let’s not make it easy for the hackers and let’s be sure that when we collect sensitive data and yes, even the data collected from cool technology toys connected to the internet, that we are security minded, meaning check your statements, logs and security messages - verify everything! When building your database, use all the security features available (masking, obfuscation, encryption) so that if someone does gain access, what they steal is NOT usable!
Be safe and enjoy what tech has to offer with peace of mind and at all cost, protect your DATA.
I’ll leave you with a few things to think about:
“Asset management critical to IT security”
"A significant number of the breaches are often caused by vendors but it's only been recently that retailers have started to focus on that," said Holcomb. "It's a fairly new concept for retailers to look outside their walls." (Source: http://www.fierceretail.com/)
“Data Scientist: Owning Up to the Title”
Enter the Data Scientist; a new kind of scientist charged with understanding these new complex systems being generated at scale and translating that understanding into usable tools. Virtually every domain, from particle physics to medicine, now looks at modeling complex data to make our discoveries and produce new value in that field. From traditional sciences to business enterprise, we are realizing that moving from the "oil" to the "car", will require real science to understand these phenomena and solve today's biggest challenges. (Source: http://www.datasciencecentral.com/profiles/blogs/data-scientist-owning-up-to-the-title)
Forget about data (for a bit) what’s your strategic vision to address your market?
Where are the opportunities given global trends and drivers? Where can you carve out new directions based on data assets? What is your secret sauce? What do you personally do on an everyday basis to support that vision? What are your activities? What decisions do you make as a part of those activities? Finally what data do you use to support these decisions?
Originally posted on Data Science Central
Guest blog post by vozag
Emergence of IoT presents security challenges more challenging than any industrial systems have seen.
Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is a reputed international organization which focuses on improving the security of the software. It sponsors the hugely popular Top ten project which publishes the top ten security risks for web applications all over the world.
The “OWASP Internet of Things (IoT) Top 10” project defines the top ten security surface areas presented by IoT systems. The project aims to provide practical security recommendations for builders, breakers, and users of IoT systems.
Last year HP which started this project used it as a baseline to evaluate top ten IoT devices which are were widely used and released a report. The study concluded that on an average each device studied had 25 vulnerabilities listed as a part of project.
The top 10 vulnerabilities impact of each vulnerability and the link in the order listed in project are given below:
Insecure web interfaces can result in data loss or corruption, lack of accountability, or denial of access and can lead to complete device takeover.
Insufficient authentication/authorization can result in data loss or corruption, lack of accountability, or denial of access and can lead to complete compromise of the device and/or user accounts.
Insecure network services can result in data loss or corruption, denial of service or facilitation of attacks on other devices.
Lack of transport encryption can result in data loss and depending on the data exposed, could lead to complete compromise of the device or user accounts.
Collection of personal data along with a lack of protection of that data can lead to compromise of a user's personal data.
An insecure cloud interface could lead to compromise of user data and control over the device.
An insecure mobile interface could lead to compromise of user data and control over the device.
Insufficient security configurability could lead to compromise of the device whether intentional or accidental and/or data loss.
Insecure software/firmware could lead to compromise of user data, control over the device and attacks against other devices.
Insufficient physical security could lead to compromise of the device itself and any data stored on that device.
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