The internet of broken things? 10 key facts about IoT – part 2
Ian Kilpatrick, the enteprise vice president of cyber security at Nuvias Group, continues his article detailing the 10 key facts about IoT that organisations need to take into account to avoid creating an internet of broken things.
6. The effects of an attack
The aftermath of a cyberattack can be devastating for any company, leading to huge financial losses, compounded by regulatory fines for data breaches, and plummeting market share or job losses. At best, a company could suffer irreparable reputational damage and loss of customer loyalty.
On top of that, IoT devices have the potential to create organisational and infrastructure risks, and even pose a threat to human life, if they are attacked. We have already seen the impact of nation-state attack tools being used as nation state weapons, then getting out and being used in commercial criminal activity. While the core focus is on defending critical infrastructure, and that is still far behind the curve, weak business infrastructure is a much softer target.
7. Profit over security
It’s crazy to think that devices with the potential to enable so much damage to homes, businesses and even entire cities often lack basic security design, implementation and testing. In the main this is because device manufacturers are pushing through their products to get them to market as quickly as possible, to cash in on the current buzz around IoT.
Though, F-Secure in its Pinning Down the IoT report says other factors include the small size of the chips being used for cost-saving reasons, and that devices are set to the manufacturer’s default password settings, which are set to four zeros or 1234, which are well known to criminals.
Lawrence Munro, vice president SpiderLabs at Trustwave agrees IoT manufacturers are sidestepping security fundamentals as they rush to bring products to market: “We are seeing lack of familiarity with secure coding concepts resulting in vulnerabilities, some of them a decade old, incorporated into final designs,” he notes.
“If consumers aren’t demanding security, manufacturers will never prioritise it,” says the F-Secure report. “But given the extraordinary dependency society is likely to develop on billions of IoT devices, governments may have to step in to demand security requirements.”
8. Can you see the problem?
Another huge problem is that once a network in attacked, it’s much easier for subsequent attacks to occur.
Yet, recent data shows just half of IT decision makers feel confident they have full visibility and control of all devices with network access. The same percentage believe they have full visibility of the access level of all third parties, who frequently have access to networks, and 54% say they have full visibility and control of all employees.
This is a worrying lack of confidence in network visibility and should be a concern for organisations. Yet, the same figures show basic security measures like network segmentation are only being planned by 24% of businesses in 2018. Without network segmentation, malware entering a network will often be left to spread.
Elsewhere, less than half of organisations have formal patching policies and procedures in place, and only about a third patch their IoT devices within 24 hours after a fix becomes available.
But because updating IoT devices by nature is more challenging, many remain vulnerable even after patches are issued, so organisations need to properly document and test each IoT device on their network.
9. Turning a blind eye
Both consumers and manufacturers seem to be burying their heads in the sand when it comes to IoT security.
Despite security concerns often cited as the number one barrier to greater IoT adoption, Trustwave research shows 61% of firms who have deployed some level of IoT technology have had to deal with a security incident related to IoT, and 55% believe an attack will occur sometime during the next two years. Only 28% of organisations surveyed consider that their IoT security strategy is ‘very important’ when compared to other cybersecurity priorities.
More worrying is that more than a third believe that IoT security is only ‘somewhat’ or ‘not’ important!
Some more troublesome stats – fewer than half of organisations consistently assess the IoT security risk posed by third-party partners, another 34% do so only periodically, and 19% don’t perform third-party IoT risk assessment at all.
10. Efforts to standardise
These security concerns can obviously paint the adoption of IoT in a negative light. But is there anything being done to mitigate these risks?
In the UK, the government’s five-year National Cyber Security Programme (NCSP) is looking to work with the IT industry to build security into IoT devices through its ‘Secure by Default’ initiative.
The group published a review earlier this month that addresses key risks related to consumer IoT and proposes a draft Code of Practice for IoT manufacturers and developers.
Recommendations include: ensuring that IoT devices do not contain default passwords; defining and implementing vulnerability disclosure policy; ensuring software for devices is regularly updated; and a proposal for a voluntary labelling scheme.
While there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel, it may not be enough. Regulators won’t force device manufacturers to introduce the necessary security regulations and practices before thousands of businesses fall victim to attacks. Turning a blind eye to the IoT security risks could leave your organisation permanently paralysed.
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